All week we’ve been celebrating the Octave of Pentecost, and today Trinity Sunday caps the entire Easter season. The Blessed Trinity, deepest of all mysteries, innermost essence of God, encompasses all God has revealed of Himself. The catechism #234 states that “the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life, the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them all.” We glimpse into the core of all being, which is relational: God is one, but within this fundamental unity, God is three, a community of persons. He is one, but never alone, an eternal exchange of love between Persons. We would not know this except that our Lord revealed God’s essential nature in his final command to baptize all peoples in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
No Peace, no Justice
Opposed to Unity of persons is the diabolical, a Greek word that means “to split apart.” The diabolical seeks to divide, to separate relationships between people and destroy communities, and it is certainly gaining strength in America right now. We defend ourselves from the demonic simply by making the Sign of the Holy Trinity, the sign of unity. In the rite of exorcism, for example, the priest continually makes the Sign of the Cross both over himself and over the penitent. We must make this Sign well—prayerfully, thoughtfully and serenely. Yesterday I was caught in a distinctly unserene demonstration while cycling across the Golden Gate Bridge. My friends and I were just out for some exercise but found ourselves overwhelmed by a disturbed crowd, not many not wearing masks, shouting slogans. One of these slogans was “No justice no peace.” There is no certainly social peace without justice, but Alveda King, the niece of Martin Luther King, recently pointed out that the reverse is also true: “Without peace,” she said, “there is no justice.” In other words, if you are not peaceful yourself, you will not have the rational balance necessary to understand other people. The channel 5 helicopter above the bridge yesterday was filming nothing more than a shouting match. First and foremost, we must find inner peace and thoughtfulness. That was what the Reverend Martin Luther King did: in the face of violence and unrest, he maintained his calm, a peace only God can give to restless human hearts. His inner peace gave Dr. King a clear and consistent message: violence always begets more violence. Christ calmly spoke truth to the Roman governor when asked; he did not shout at the violent men who shouted him down. What is missing in the discussions over George Floyd’s murder is faith in a higher power. Without God, we cannot hope for justice or peace because the human heart is fundamentally broken.
The Family, image of the Holy Trinity
Let’s get back to Trinity Sunday. St. Augustine says that the Holy Trinity is most perfectly manifest in the Christian family. Last Thursday a friend invited me to dinner. His nine-year-old daughter greeted me at the door with these solemn words: “I got a sunburn.” Mom, Dad, and the kids had spent the day at the beach, digging pools in the sand for jellyfish, and had lost track of time. Her brother was quite excited about his sister’s sunburn. “You want to see it?” he said eagerly. “Come along children,” their mother said, and we went into the living room. “Father, come see my shells!” the girl cried: two perfect sand dollars, a smooth pebble, four little nauticas, and her favorite, a nutmeg cockle shell with perfectly proportioned ridges. “How good God is to us!” her father exclaimed, “to give us such beauty!” His little daughter smiled and his son laughed. “Come along children,” their mother murmured, “it’s time for dinner.”
The crowds are shouting that “social justice is more important than social distancing.” But surely the most fundamental social justice is the human family. Children, black and white, have the right to play at the beach under the loving gaze of their parents. Only strong families and healthy neighborhoods teach children how to love and be loved, to trust and be trusted. It is because 75% of black children in our cities have no functional family life that they are gunned down and suffocated on our streets. We can protest all we want if it makes us feel better. But it won’t solve the fundamental problem of fatherless, family-less, and God-less America. I want to thank Clarisse Siu of our parish, who has organized a different kind of gathering today in the streets of San Francisco today: a family rosary. We will pray peacefully to the God of heaven that peace and justice come into the hearts of black and white, of Latino and Asian, and into the hearts of all people in our land. I invite you to pray with us at 2:30 this afternoon outside our Cathedral on Gough Street.