Fr. Bill Carroll – Trinity Sunday, June 4, 2023

Listen to my appeal.  Agree with one another.  Live in peace.  And the God of love and peace will be with you. 

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Today’s Epistle contains one of the oldest Trinitarian formulas in the New Testament.  The persons are not named in the usual order.  Nor is the formula as refined as the Nicene Creed.  But it does list all three persons.  And they are shown working together for our salvation.  Writing to the Corinthians, Paul invokes the grace of Jesus, the love of God, and the communion of the Spirit.  To experience any of these is to be caught up in all three at once.  Indeed, it is to share in the divine relationships within the Godhead.  

Most recent teaching on the Trinity stresses the biblical conviction that “God is love.”  Catherine Mowry LaCugna, for example, says that “The very nature of God is to seek out the deepest possible communion and friendship with every last creature.”  God is not an isolated, solitary individual.  Instead, God is a living communion of love.  And God invites us—and “every last creature”—to share God’s love and friendship.  Or, to quote the words of our opening hymn:

Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light;
nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might.
Thy justice like mountains, high soaring above
thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love.

According to many Christian mystics, love is an ecstatic reality.  God is not self-centered, but other-directed.  God’s love wants to spread itself around.  Love is active, not passive.  It shows itself in deeds, not just in words.  From the bottomless wellspring of God’s goodness, God’s own love flows out into the world.  As the Letter of James puts it, God is “the Father of lights, the giver of every good and perfect gift.”  God is generous and merciful and kind.  God gives us more than we could possibly receive, more than we could possibly deserve. God is our Creator, who gives us our very selves.

And, before there ever is a world, within the life of God, God is giving himself away.  The Father—the first person, the source and origin of the Trinity—is giving himself completely to the Son.  He is giving the Son all that makes God, God—except that the Son is not the Father.  And together, the Father and the Son breathe forth a third person, distinct and equally-divine, who is the Spirit of love, who binds the entire Godhead together in peace.  

But God’s self-giving flows beyond the divine life to fill his creation with love.  And so, the goodness of God flows into the world through Jesus and the Spirit.  God sends us Jesus to save us.  And he gives us the Spirit to help us live like Jesus.  

The Church is a sign of God’s own love for the world and everyone in it.  We are Christ’s Body.  He rises victorious from the dead.  He fills us with his life-giving Spirit.  And then he commands us to “go” and change the world.  In today’s Gospel, Jesus is sending us out on a mission.  He is sending us out with his own authority to share his love in the world.  He is sending us out to preach, to baptize, and to teach.  He is sending us out to heal the sick, to serve our neighbors, and boldly share the Gospel.  He is sending us out to demonstrate God’s new and better way of love.

That is why Paul exhorts the Church to “greet one another with a holy kiss.”  Our fellowship is a sign of God’s peace.  And, whenever we greet one another with a sign of peace, we are committing ourselves to follow Jesus and to help God change the world.  For, in this way, God is uniting every race and nation (every background, every experience, every walk of life) in one Body.  God is calling us to lay our fears and suspicions aside—to live together as a united People in a divided world. 

 And that’s why the peace always follows the confession and absolution.  The peace embodies our intention to forgive each other as we have been forgiven—to listen to Jesus and follow him where he leads.  Passing the peace is a sign of our unity.  We go to God’s Altar together.

Ultimately, the Trinity is not about a mathematical error.  It is a practical doctrine about God’s love, which makes the many into one.  As Rowan Williams once put it

The Trinity is never an object (or a trio of objects!) at a safe distance.  Knowing the Trinity is being involved in [God’s] circling movement:  drawn by the Son towards the Father, drawn into the Father’s breathing out of the Spirit so that the [life of Jesus] may be again made real in the world.  

Simply put, God is a series of loving relationships, in which we have been “gracefully entangled.”

On Trinity Sunday, we remember the roots of our prayer and discipleship in the life and love of God.  And so, beloved, what Paul once said to the Corinthians, I also say to you:  “Listen to my appeal.  Agree with one another.  Live in peace.  And the God of love and peace will be with you.”  For God uses the life of Jesus, shining within us, to show the world himself.  He is perfect love, boundless goodness, and our eternal life.  


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Contact Father Bill by Phone or by Email

Contact Mother Vivian by Email

Contact Father Bill by Phone or by Email

Contact Mother Vivian by Email