Homily for Trinity Sunday 2007

Next weekend we celebrate Confirmation and First Eucharist with our children. Please keep them in your prayers. I don't remember much of my First Communion except the promised and much awaited cake!

When we are children we do not understand a lot of what our parents as adults talked about. We sometimes guessed when what they discussed was important by the heated tones or arguments. But the subject matter was beyond our comprehension and hence irrelevant to us as children. Much of adult life passed over our heads as children.

As we grow up much of our energy is put into achieving our independence from parents of proving our worth to ourselves and our peers. So we are not always alert to what is going on in our parents lives. As teenagers we can be oblivious to the struggles that love, raising children, and work entails for them. We can easily forget that they are persons with stories and feelings of their own. Then as children grow and leave home, there can be pain, pain of separation on both sides.

However, when we grow older those matters which our parents discussed can assume great and personal importance. But then our parents are not always around when we would like to speak with them about their experience.

So you, like me, may find yourself asking questions like: How would my father have faced this situation or problem? What would my mother think of this? What was it like for them when they saw children leave home? Was that a painful experience. What was love like for them? Did they ever have a broken heart? What was it like for them to become old and dependant on others? Much of that kind of personal experience is hidden from children. Yet we can still learn wisdom from the glimpses of their lives that we saw and remember.

In our Gospel passage today Jesus is preparing his friends, his disciples, for their separation from him. He tells them they will be sorrowful but that the Spirit will come. He is not just saying to the disciples that they will get through this separation all right. That there will be a happy ending to their sorrow. Rather, a new world is being born out of the old with all the pain and separation that entails. Later in the chapter he uses the example of a mother in childbirth. The pain of childbirth is not like an illness that will pass. The pain of childbirth is about bringing new life into the world. His leaving them, his death, is the pain of the birth of a new world, a new kingdom. We must share in that pain if we are to enter that new world. We share it joyfully because it is undertaken with love just as a mother enters into labour with great hope that a child will soon be born.

St Paul in our second reading speaks of that pain when he says, "we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us" (Romans 5:10).

The doctrine of the Trinity is a shorthand way of naming the mystery we cannot grasp. Like children, who do not know the ways of their parents, we do not know the ways of God. So Jesus assures us that the Spirit will lead us to that truth which is too much for us now. The love within God, which is the Trinity itself, is too much for us now.

Although we may not be able to comprehend God we live within God's embrace. When our understanding reaches its limits we enter the mystery only through prayer. This is summed up in the doxology we say at the end of every Eucharistic prayer:

"Through him with him in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honour is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever. Amen."

Our children may not comprehend all that is happening around them at their Confirmation and First Eucharist, but the Spirit will be with them leading them into all truth as they grow.

Fr Graham