Archbishop Peter A Comensoli
Homily: Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
In every family, there are very personal ways in which we refer to one another. We all have special nicknames or tender references for our nearest and dearest that are not for wider consumption. And rightly so, for these are the intimate and very personal matters that speak to the bonds of love and affection a family holds preciously to itself, and which gives each member that special place of belonging. Whenever these precious and personal things go missing, we all know how that can undermine our sense of peace, safety and love.
When Moses came before the presence of God on Mount Sinai, God revealed something of his true self to Moses: “The LORD, the LORD, a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness.” This was a turning point in the history of salvation. No longer was God an almighty but utterly unattainable Entity of immense power; now God had come close to his creation, and had formed a covenant with them.
Yet, notice how God is called: the LORD. This is not a name, but a marker for the name God had privately given to Moses. The proper name of God – God’s personal family name – was never written out by the Israelites, for it was indeed the name by which God would be called within the family of God’s People. ‘The LORD’ was the way that God would be referred to by his family members outside of their family environment.
Yet, this did not fully identify God, even among his own. That personal naming, that imitate knowing, would not come until God’s Son came among us, as one of us. God had a personal, family name: Jesus. And Jesus let us know also of the other personal names of God: ‘Abba-Father’; “Advocate-Spirit’. By nature, God is Father, Son, Spirit: a trinity of persons in one God. But personally and within the family God is called Abba, Jesus, Advocate.
It is of the uniqueness of Christianity that God is known in such imitate and familial ways. As God’s sons and daughters, as God’s brothers and sisters, as God’s friends and apostles, we Christians have been grafted (adopted) into the family that allows us the intimacy and preciousness to call God by his family names, and he calls each of us by our special names. So, while Moses learnt of the way in which God would be present to his People, we can now experience that presence, which is tender, compassionate, kind-hearted, faithful.
How our world needs to experience this presence of God right now! Chaos reigns in the USA as deep national wounds are re-opened, while we here in Australia are reminded of the wounds our national family suffers from. Our history – like all human history – is marked by light and shadow, by pride and shame. These past several days have again exposed how our First Peoples have lived through stages of dislocation, rejection, injustice and separation from land, identity and family. They are our family – we are family. But this is not how we are living, is it? Those personal and intimate names that grant identity and purpose are not being spoken in family-like ways for our indigenous brothers and sisters.
Reconciliation and recognition are not nice sentiments; they are necessary conditions to finding a just and healed way forward. We all belong to a national family – first person, settler, migrant – and we need together to find how to live in ways that honour every family member. Perhaps we need to speak into our national family the words that God has spoken into his faith family: words of tenderness, of compassion, of kindness, of faithfulness – words and deeds that are slow to anger, and rich in mercy. May we be committed in our family to enabling every person to breathe in the life-giving air needed to walk the pathway ahead of reconciliation, recognition, and right relations. It’s the pathway for us all to the family name of God.