by Father Jamin Scott David
Trinity Sunday is a preacher’s worst nightmare. Many of them dive into a pithy attempt to explain the mystery of the Holy and Undivided Trinity in five minutes are less. They are rarely successful and often are heretical. For example, I heard one preacher say that the Trinity is like water – sometimes its liquid, other times its ice, still other times its vapor. Describing God in such functional terms is a heresy called modalism. Or another preacher said that the Trinity is like three-in-one shampoo. This too is problematic since you can break down the different elements that perform each function – that’s tritheism. The Trinity is so much more – a rich mystery that does not lend itself to bumper-sticker summaries. What kind of God would he be if you could explain him in five minutes? Instead, maybe the challenge in today’s celebration is to ask ourselves what does the Trinity have to do with us today, and how can we be drawn deeper into this often complicated mystery?
I remember when I was in the seminary doing my summer assignment that the pastor went on a three week vacation and I was left to entertain the missionary priest. He was a pretty nice guy and seemed to enjoy the country pretty well. We wined and dined him with parishioners and tried to treat him as best as possible. After we went back to the rectory, I asked the priest what he thought about our Church compared to his local Church. He said, “I love your Church. The problem is that you have too much. When you have too much, it’s easy to forget that you are dependent upon God. Where I’m from, we don’t have much. Everyday we’re reminded to depend on God. That means we must pray fervently every day since we know we utterly depend on God.” That’s what today’s feast is all about. Comfort breeds complacency. We try to fit everything into our brains, and our material abundance makes us think we have all our important needs already met. We’re programmed to look for answers in our own minds; we’re trained to rationally define our reality and not seek something different. We’re trained to be leaders, not followers. But Jesus says that we don’t need to do any of that. We’re freed from the pressure to act as if we have it all figured out. And imagine the implications. Imagine listening to God instead of informing him how we’d like things to work out. Imagine that we come to see a deeper meaning to life than material goods and the accumulation of stuff. The Good News this Trinity Sunday is that God can’t be figured out any more than we can put the ocean in a hole. The mystery of the Trinity is simple – we need him more than he needs us. But the only way we’ll realize that is if we make our lives less complicated. I’m out on vacation this weekend, but I look forward to seeing you soon and celebrating in these final months that we have together. ~Fr. Jamin