16th June 2019
Tony van Vuuren
I am not given to telling stories in my sermons, but I was reminded that I was due to preach on the Holy Trinity when I read David Biggs’ Last Laugh column in the Argus last week.
Three farmers were sitting in the local agricultural co-op chatting about this and that, and the talk turned to religion and the merits of various faiths. The oldest was very quiet so he was asked, “so what do you think Oom Hennie?’
“Well there are three roads leading to the grain elevator,” he said, “and when you arrive there, they are not going to ask you which road you came by. They’ll only be interested in the quality of your grain.”
Moving through the three special feasts culminating in the Holy Trinity this weekend we might review what the impact of this period has been on the quality of our faith? On the Ascension we celebrated Jesus’ return to his Father’s side.
Pentecost fulfilled Jesus’ promise that he would not leave us on our own to struggle in a contrary world of rejection and indifference. Today we celebrate the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, our belief that God is One and yet Three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, One in Three and Three in One.
This is something so wonderful and sublime that the human mind cannot pretend to comprehend the full meaning of the mystery, which nonetheless is the cause of our hope as followers of Jesus Christ. Even St Augustine once stated that it is impossible to fill the human mind with the immensity of the mystery of the Holy Trinity.
Paul’s letter to the Roman Christians begins with a double reassurance. Paul wants to make sure that, as we undergo the daily trials that test our faith, we can be confident that we don’t have to go through them on our own. Jesus is the lens through which Paul interprets the Trinity.
Paul writes; “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” That’s where it begins for us, doesn’t it? It is not about what we did to please God; but that God has first been pleased with us. This love of God; it is not “our love of God” but rather, “God’s love of us.” Paul tells us that through sufferings, endurance, the forming of character and hope, God’s love is poured into our hearts through the indwelling Holy Spirit.
God, in Jesus, has “justified” us. The term “justification” is the Bible’s assurance that we have been put in a right relationship with God. The first effect of justification is the Christian experience of peace. This is a peace that anxieties cannot upset, a hope that knows no disappointment, and a confidence of salvation of which any Christian can truly boast.
So how do we get this “righteousness,” or “justification”? Well, we can never earn it according to Paul. Instead, as he has often said, we are set right with God through faith. But it does not end there, in complacency. Instead, the faith we have received urges us to respond to our neighbour as Jesus did.
God, our Creator, has in Jesus shone the divine face of love and forgiveness on us. He has revealed His unsurpassing, unlimiting and unearned love for us. He has also gifted us with the Spirit, the life force within us, that moves us to accept Jesus into our lives by faith and to respond to the Spirit’s urging to be as Christ was in the world.
All the gifts that we receive from God, be it His grace, faith, hope, peace, justification, they are bestowed upon us through the Blessed Trinity. It is by the grace of God through the power of the Holy Spirit in the Name of Jesus that God manifests His love in us, with us and through us. God’s love for us gives us courage in all the difficulties of life.
We are each being invited to engage more than the mind as we ponder the mystery of our living under the watchful care of the Holy Trinity. St Benedict expressed it beautifully when he said that we are invited to open “the ears of our heart,” in order to comprehend, to the degree that we can, the greatness of our God.
While living this life, we will never understand fully the God who saves us, but that is no reason to give up in our search for God, and our ardent pursuit of God’s will for our life, as well as our proclamation of the Gospel by the life we live.
The Gospel reassures us that God is Love, and whoever lives in love lives in God and God in the one who loves. Let us put God in the centre of our existence and go to Him frequently in prayer, in praise, as well as adoration, supplication, and thanksgiving for giving nourishment and encouragement for our daily existence.
We form a family with God. As the Trinity dwells in unity, we are called to do likewise. May we never cease to thank our God for the gifts we have received and may we remain today and always united to the Holy Trinity, our One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.