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Terrance KleinMay 31, 2023
Photo from Logan Weaver, courtesy of Unsplash.

A Homily for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Readings: Exodus 34:4b-6, 8-9 2 Corinthians 13:7-13 John 3:16-18

What is the voice of a parent worth? If your parents have fallen silent, what would you give for one more chance to converse with either of them?

After the first death of a parent, many of us discover a greater intimacy with the one who survives. At first, we converse more often to see how he or she is doing, but often those talks remain frequent even after the initial period of loss. Perhaps, in losing one parent, we realize how valuable the remaining relationship is to us.

The best of spouses is still not a parent. A parent is someone so much like you, yet not you. Spouses are supposed to differ from us. Therein lies the joy of discovery and fruitfulness.

We choose our spouses; we do not choose our parents. Either way, all human loves are less than perfect, and sometimes we feel compelled to separate ourselves from spouses or parents. But if we have been blessed in these fundamental relationships, why is the voice of a parent, a chat with them, so valuable to us? Why do we long for one more conversation, even after death or dementia has made that impossible?

Perhaps because your parents are so close to being who you are. Think about it. Does anyone know you more thoroughly than your parents? Except in the case of adoption, your parents possess your DNA, with its vast trove of predilections. Your parents were probably present for most of your early formative experiences, and you share with them a vast web of relationships, your extended family and your community of origin. In short and so-to-speak, your parents made you physically and spiritually; they have always been there; and they love you.

Your parents share your life, but they are not you. Therein lies the joy of talking with them in good times and the unique comfort they offer in moments that are troubled. We naturally want to go to them because we come from them.

A parent is a human trace of the divine mystery we call the Most Holy Trinity. Perhaps this is the closest image that earth can offer of God, who is a union of love. Indeed, if that union were any stronger, it would become a monad and there would be no “other” to love.

Let’s review what we know of the Trinity. The Father and the Son are one in being, as we say in the Creed, and alike in divinity except in their origin. The Son comes forth from the Father, not in time, as in human relationships, but in eternity. He is forever coming forth from the Father.

The Father and the Son dwell in dateless and deathless dialogue. Each gazes upon the other; each addresses the other.

Your parents share your life, but they are not you. Therein lies the joy of talking with them in good times and the unique comfort they offer in moments that are troubled.

This is why the relationship of parent and child mirrors the Trinity, but the distance between earthly and heavenly parentage is also telling. Indeed, it is a clue for comprehending the person whom we call the Holy Spirit. Unlike in human relationships, the Father and the Son do not love each other in order to find completion in the other. They have no such need. Both persons being God, neither suffers from want. No, the Holy Spirit emerges from their overflowing fullness.

A creature comes forth from the completion we call the Creator. As creatures, we must seek our fullness, our destiny, in others. That is why, in the normal way of things, “a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body” (Gen 2:24). The hunger inside of us for completion leads us into love and its fruitfulness. Children are born from our desire for more life and love.

Parents are our first relationship, but they must yield primacy to others who follow. Unlike the triune God, they cannot be all that their children will ever need.

Small wonder, though, that we would love to hear again the voices of parents whom we have lost to death! But lacking the self-sufficient fullness of God, those voices have themselves returned to the bosom of the Trinity, from which they first emerged. The prayer of Moses has been fulfilled: “Receive us as your own” (Ex 34:9). How selfish we would be to deny them their fulfillment in God! No, if we would seek them now, we must do so in prayer.

The Father ever addresses the Son in a love that breathes forth the Spirit. Our parents have found their place in that dance, that round of love. Their work is done. For us they were the first hint—and are still the best evidence—that such a ceaseless circle of love exists.

More: Scripture

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