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Bishop's Homily for Trinity Sunday

June 7, 2020

[St. John the Apostle & Evangelist Church, Mililani (Blessing of Altar and Reliquaries)]

This week I received an email telling me that I would be derelict in my duties if I did not publicly denounce the evils of President Trump.  Hours later I received a letter telling me I would be derelict in my duties if I did not publicly denounce the evils of the Democratic Party.  I received an email telling me I would have a special place in hell for deciding to close the churches during this pandemic.  I also received an email from a friend who is the Vicar General in Micronesia, where there were no COVID-19 cases, telling me that the bishop there was receiving criticism for not closing the churches.  We have certainly seen our share of racial tension recently and sometimes violent protests in reaction to it, and we know we have a long way to go to treat every person with human dignity.  The recent news cycles have taken the focus off the normal divisions among us, such as domestic violence, the widening gap between the rich and the poor, and the centuries-long conflicts between x nation and y nation – and you could fill in the blanks with multiple choices.  It seems that civility is no longer a value, and that everyone holds their own views as the only way any intelligent person could possibly see things.  Obviously this leads to even more discord and suffering.

I would like to submit that at the root of all of this discord is the erosion of our belief in the Holy Trinity.  E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One) is the motto of our country, which we have not been living very well lately, but our country did not invent the concept.  It is an eternal concept, because it is the very nature of the eternal God, who is a Trinity of Persons yet one single God.  Though each person is distinct, there is no strife or competition among them, but only a community of pure love.  This is the love in which every human being was created, and the image and likeness of the Triune God is stamped into our hearts.  We Christians are reminded of it in a special way when we are immersed, soaked, and baptized into the very name of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  We are our best selves when we remember that this community of life and love is stamped into the soul of every human being on earth.  We suffer the wounds of division when we fail to realize that E Pluribus Unum is not just the motto of the United States but the very nature of the God who created us in his infinite love.

We often think of the Trinity as some esoteric religious construct that really has little to do with our daily lives in the world.  But in fact it has everything to do with our daily lives!  Although the Triune God is eternal, it was only Jesus who clearly revealed to us the nature of the Blessed Trinity.  Today Jesus reminds us, as he refers to himself as one of the persons of this God who loves us, that “whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”  If we open our eyes we can see that the terrible divisions among us that are sometimes even celebrated are our condemnation, because they do not build up the world in love but instead destroy it.  They may bring momentary self-aggrandizement, but in the end they bring hatred and misery and a mean spirit.

This is why it is so important for us – and for all the world! – that we gather around this altar every Sunday and even more often, if we can.  It is here that we raise our voices in praise to the Father for all his creative and marvelous deeds.  It is here that we call down the Holy Spirit to transform the simple and mundane elements of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ; and to transform this simple, sometimes sinful people that gathers here into the Body of Christ sent out to be present in the world.  It is here that we encounter the Son of God who is the gift of God’s love for the world.  He is not just a gift who was given once upon a time, long ago and far away, but a gift given to us today so that we can be in intimate physical communion with him.  It is here at this altar that we remember what is so easy for us to forget when we are not here:  that no one of us is god, even though we may think we are at times, but that all are imbued with the divine nature of distinct persons living in a perfect community of love.  We should never underestimate the marvel that takes place on this simple altar.  Here we remember the greatest sacrifice in the world, when God offered his only Son to be tortured and killed, then raised up again and sent us his Holy Spirit so that we might not be afraid to sacrifice ourselves to bring the world back into the harmony that is a reflection of the very God we worship.  The more we stand in awe of the wonder of Three Persons who are but one God, the more we will live in accord with this divine nature that has been stamped into our souls, and the more our world will be filled with harmony and love.  E Pluribus Unum is not just a motto, but the very nature of the God who alone can bring us salvation from our sins and divisions:  the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.