Feast of the Holy Trinity Year B
Experiencing true love and true joy through the Holy Trinity.
My dear friend, what is love like? Can you teach love? Can you find a word that describes love? In truth, to know love, I must to experience it. I can experience love as a lover or as the one who is loved. And most of all, if I am the one who is both the lover and the loved, I am in the depth of love itself. This week, the Church celebrate the Feast of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity is a mystery and a central tenet of our faith. St John said, “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8) The Holy Trinity is in essence the deepest expression of God who is love Himself. God the Father is the lover; God the Son is the loved. And as the Father pours out all His love to the Son; the Son in turn pours all His loves to the Father, this eternal exchange of love between the Father and the Son is the Holy Spirit. My brothers and sisters, this is the essence of God – an eternal loving relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
For those of us who are parents, we love our children. We make great sacrifices for them; give them the best we can offer, sometimes even to the detriment of our own well-being. When our child is sick or is suffering, if we could, we would rather take on that suffering upon ourselves. And if our child makes bad company, has gone astray or even treats us badly, it does not diminish our parental love. Instead, we extend to the child our unconditional understanding and forgiveness. This type of love does not make sense, yet this is the way a parent loves a child. The truth is, for the love of a child, a parent would give the child a piece of himself or herself. This is also the way God loves me. St John continued, “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 Jn 4:10)
In the Bible, there is another example of such love in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:11-32). In the parable, the wayward son asked the father for his inheritance while the father was still alive. In Jewish and many other cultures, this would be equivalent to wishing death upon the father. The father must have been heartbroken at the request, but acceded to the son’s request anyway. The son then took the money and spent it all on a life of debauchery. With the money gone, the son was renegaded to a live of destitute and with no honour. He came to his senses and returned to the father. On seeing his son returned, the father extended to the son his unconditional understanding and forgiveness. The father restored the son his status of sonship and organised a celebration. In his own words, the father rejoiced because the son “was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.” (Lk 15:32) In fact, some Scripture scholars called this the parable of the Prodigal Father on account of the forgiveness the father so lavishly showered upon the son.
If a human parent can love like this, what about God? In the First Reading, just as the Prodigal Father did, Moses explained to people how God took personal interest in the well-being of the people. Demonstrating great love and awesome power at the same time, God performed great miracles, taking the Israelite nation out from their enslavement in Egypt, turning the sea into dry land, feeding the people with manna from heaven and gave them His Commandments. God delivered the Israelites from the bondage of slavery in Egypt and made them a free people.
When we speak of Bible stories like those of Israelites above, we often said we are God’s people and He lavishly showers his love upon us. But God’s love is not like how a benevolent king would love his people; but rather, it is like the Prodigal Father showering his unconditional love upon the son. As St Paul explains in the Second Reading, we are “children of God” (verse 14). Through the Holy Spirit, we become God’s adopted children, addressing God intimately “Abba! Father!” (verse 15) For we are not adopted as some kind of second-class children. Rather, we are His true heirs, sharing the Father’s inheritance with none other than Christ Himself (verse 17). That we are adopted sons and daughters of God and joint-heirs with Christ is a teaching many of us have heard before. But the question is: while we know it in our head, do you feel it in our heart?
It is for this reason it helps for us to reflect on the Holy Trinity. For the love of a child, a parent would give the child a piece of himself or herself. God does the same by dying on the cross for us. On the cross, the Son cries out to the Father; the Father mourns the suffering of the Son; and the love between them hovered between heaven and earth as the Holy Spirit. God has given Himself to us in the Holy Trinity. In so doing, He shares with us his very essence, that He is love.
Through this Feast of the Holy Trinity, the Church wants us to experience an intimacy with God. Like the Prodigal Son who came to his senses, we are invited to reflect on our lives – all our unhappiness, failures, sadness and debaucheries – and say to God, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you;” (Lk 15:21). Accepting God’s unconditional love and forgiveness, let us learn to experience God intimately in our heart. Let us experience the true joy of being adopted sons or daughters. I am the loved one; I am the lover; and I am the love itself in the image of God Himself. For as St John said, “Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 Jn 4:8) To know God is to experience love. To experience God’s love is to experience true joy. Then let me spread this joy by bringing others into God family. Let me “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Gospel, verse 20). Make no mistake, when I am baptised, I become God’s adopted sons and daughters, sharing in His inner being – His love.
“A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ex 36:26) Amen.