Cardinal Charles Bo – Feast of Holy Trinity: The Real Power is Love
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
May the everlasting love of the Father, the redemptive love of Jesus and the creative love of the Holy Spirit be with us all. Today (30 May 2021) we celebrate the great feast of Holy Trinity, a feast of relationship of love. We celebrate the example of the trinity which lives in circular, nurturing relationship of love. Today we celebrate all our relationships: in the family, in our context. As human beings we exist to relate. This feast affirms that relationship is the core of being divine and being human.
Today is also the country wide prayer for Myanmar by the Philippines Church. A special prayer will be said in that country in every church. The Philippines is the third biggest Catholic country in the world and the biggest in Asia. We are grateful to their great gesture of relating to us through prayer. May the Holy Trinity bless them all abundantly.
Today’s feast is a great theological challenge. For long time theologians argued how one God can be three and three God can be one. We shall not be trapped in the theological net of arguments. The Holy Trinity message is simple: All of us exist only for relating to one another as the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit exist for one another in deep relationship. The Holy Trinity is also an example of nurturing relationship, not manipulative relationship. The Holy Trinity is also showing a circular model of power not hierarchical model where one or two have monstrous power to subjugate others, persecute others, torture others and kill others. The Holy Spirit gives the example of sharing, nurturing and healing.
This is what we are going to see today in our thoughts about the Holy Trinity. We are grateful that Christianity understood God as a family. He is not a monstrous, vengeance seeking all powerful entity. Our God is both immanent and transcendent. He is Emmanuel, the God who lives with us and Our Father who is in heaven. He is the incarnate God, of flesh and blood in Jesus. We see our God. Many religions preach God cannot be understood, cannot be described, cannot be a human.
Let us celebrate this God: of Love; of nurturing Love, of redemptive love, of healing Love.
For the last four months, this nation has undergone huge suffering. Even now the people of Mind at and Loikaw are huddled together in the jungle after violence forced them to flee. With starvation and wounds thousands are displaced.
What is the message of the Holy Trinity to our people’s wounds and tears?
The Holy Trinity teaches a great concept: The real power is Love. Not Domination. The three persons of the Trinity have different works but their relationship is totally showed by loving and sharing. It is a circular relationship. Power is not involved. The Holy Trinity is moved by Love. It is out of love the world and the first parents were created. It is out of love the Israelites were released from Egypt. The best definition of Trinity’s love is expressed in John 3: 16
God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, not to condemn but to redeem all the world.
Yes. God the Father is Love; his Son is Love; the Holy Spirit is the power when the angel announced the message to Mary. It is the power of Love. Not the Love of Power which is creating hell in many parts of the world.
As Christians we have a long tradition of accepting the faith of the Holy Trinity. The early Church developed creedal statements that expressed what the Church believed. The first was the Apostles’ Creed. The Apostles’ Creed simply affirms in three statements a belief in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit:
1. I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
2. And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord;
3. I believe in the Holy Spirit.
The Bible is a book that influenced three Abrahamic religions. But Christians take the holistic message of Triune God:
· In the Old Testament, God is Creator of both the world, and of the nation of Israel through whom he will bless the world. Of course, God is present as Spirit, and the Messiah is both prophesied and foreshadowed in various theophanies (appearances of God, such as the angel who wrestles with Jacob). But primary on the stage of the unfolding drama of the Old Testament is the God of Israel, Yahweh, El-Shaddai, Elohim, Adonai, and all the other names by which God is called and worshipped.
· In the New Testament Gospel accounts, the emphasis is upon Jesus- the Emmanuel— his birth, his baptism, his message, his life, his death, and his resurrection. But God the Father approves his Son, and the Holy Spirit descends upon — anoints — Jesus for ministry.
· In the New Testament Book of Acts and the epistles, the Holy Spirit is at the forefront, equipping, enabling, guiding, empowering the early church.
· In the Book of Revelation, God the Father, Son, and Spirit are all present.
The trinity was in the old testament and is found well-articulated in the New Testament. God is a family. Not a king, Not a military leader, not an autocrat. God is relationship.
We are called upon to understand the readings of Today and make our life meaningful in the trinitarian way of living. Every day we affirm the role of the trinity in our life by the sign of the cross. We touch three parts of our body with the sign of the Cross, affirming the role of trinity in our lives. The three parts are: three H: Head, Heart and Hand. Today’s readings are so appropriate in understanding the Trinity through these three H: Head, Heart and Hand.
· Head: We touch our head and say: In the Name of the Father.
· Heart: We touch our heart and say: And of the Son
· Hands: We touch shoulders where our hands start and say: And of the Holy Spirit.
The first reading today talks of the Father: The head is the place of Knowledge, faith. In the first reading: Moses in the book of Deuteronomy calls forth all the Jews to know the Lord “You must Know” says Moses to his people that God is present “in the Heavens above on earth below” Knowledge of God and faith in him is what we seek when we touch our head.
What is the message of these words to Myanmar people : God is present amidst all the troubles we face? He is the ultimate deliverer. There is no government that is more powerful than God. Prophet Isiah affirms :
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace ( Is : 9:6).
Yes. We seek the rule of God, the prophet says the Government is on his shoulders. What happens God’s rule is established? Isiah consoles us with a great verse :
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever (Is 6:7).
That kind of Godly government we are praying for. When that comes, the prophet says, peace will be no end and justice and righteousness will rule for ever and ever. Yes. We need to pray for such a government. Let God hear our prayer. The prayers of the Philippines Brothers and Sisters.
The second reading refers to the second act in our sign of the Cross : touching our heart. The heart is the seat of love, symbol of love. The second person of the Trinity is Jesus. His only commandment : Love one another as I loved you. In the second reading today, St Paul proclaims with joy : we are not worshipping a fearful, vengeful God. We are praying because we are adopted by the spirit and cry out with joy “ Abba, Father” Truly we are sons and daughters of mighty God. How consoling to hear that when cruelty plays it violent game in the streets. Those who are killed, those who are tortured, those who are in prison, those who fled to jungles as refugees are not ‘abandoned, but adopted as sons and daughters of the living God, whom they can cry out “ Abba, Father” for liberation from all suffering.
The third reading refers to the third act of the sign of the Cross : touching our shoulders and hands. These are organs of DOING. Faith is in Head; Love is in Heart. Christian Faith and Love is always expressed in action. Hands are symbols of doing.
In the Gospels today, Jesus exhorts his disciples : Go, proclaim, baptize in the Name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Living is loving. Loving is showing in actions. For the last two years, our living and loving one another is deeply disturbed. Covid has made millions poor and starving. The present crisis has created huge suffering to innocent people.
The Trinity challenges us : These are dark moments. In the dark moments of history, the Trinity intervened directly with the humanity. God of Israel called Moses to release his people from the suffocating slavery in Egypt. God is the Liberator of the victims of oppression. God works through us. As the Pope urged us : In times when evil seems to be winning, we need to maintain faith and unity and respond to the victims of evil.
When sin engulfed the world, the Trinity intervened and send the Son. The Holy Spirit was announced to the virgin. Yes, when evil threatens us, the Trinitarian response is not silence, not withdrawal to our safety alone. Jesus tells his disciples : Go. Yes, we need to go where violence has broken human families in this country, where violence has spilled blood, where violence has made thousands displaced into merciless jungles. The mandate of the Trinity was articulated in the old testament and the New testament :
I’ll tell you what it really means to worship the Lord.
Remove the chains of prisoners who are chained unjustly.
Free those who are abused! Share your food with everyone who is hungry;
share your home with the poor and homeless.
Give clothes to those in need; don’t turn away your suffering people.
Then your light will shine like the dawning sun, and you will quickly be healed (Is: 58:6-8).
Yes, the Trinity inspires us all in this country to “worship the Lord” through removing the chains of thousands who are arrested and held unjustly, free those who are tortured, share food with the millions who lost their livelihood and fled the conflict, sharing your home with those who are fleeing from evil, clothing the naked and never forgetting the suffering people.
Yes. This will bring healing to the nation. Our light of trinitarian love will shine like the dawning sun. Countries in the world struggle against autocratic, hierarchical power but for the emergence of the Trinitarian circular power where love reigns supreme, the weak and vulnerable are given primacy of place. Only through such Trinitarian love and power format, this long-suffering nation can heal itself and find peace as the prophet Isiah proclaimed.
Let us pray for such healing, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
1st Reading Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40:
The Lord God in Heavens above and on earth below and there is no other.
Responsorial Psalm Psalms 33:4-5, 6, 9, 18-19, 20, 22
2nd Reading Romans 8:14-17:
The Spirit of adoption makes us cry “Abba, Father”
Alleluia Revelation 1:8
Gospel Matthew 28:16-20:
All power on earth and heaven are give to me.