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Bishop's Homily for Trinity Sunday

Are we always aware that we are made in the image and likeness of God...

By Bishop Larry Silva
May 26, 2018

[Holy Trinity Church, Honolulu (Confirmation)] 

Does a fish know that it lives in water?  It probably becomes aware of the fact that it does when it suddenly is taken out of the water and it has to gasp for breath.  Are we aware that we live in an atmosphere of air?  We probably do not think about it much unless the air is filled with vog or something goes wrong with our respiratory system.  It is almost a natural thing for a fish not to be aware of living in water or for ourselves not being aware of living in air until something goes wrong. 

Are we always aware that we are made in the image and likeness of God, who is the perfect community, one God in three distinct persons?  Are we who are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit always aware that that we are immersed, soaked, in God himself?  Sometimes, unfortunately, it takes something that is foreign to us to make us realize the incredible wonder that it is in God himself that we live, and move, and have our being.  When we are affected by sin or choose the divisions that it causes, then we find ourselves short of the breath of life or gasping for breath and desperately trying to find what is lacking. 

We are a very diverse people – male and female, young and old, liberal and conservative, of various ethnic groups and various cultures.  We live in a world where there are many countries that speak different languages and have different customs.  Often we are affected by racial or ethnic prejudices, by divisions, wars and hatred between one group and another.  In our heart of hearts we know that this toxic situation is not the way things should be and that when we exploit and emphasize these divisions we all are drained of life.  Whether we are speaking of peace among the diverse members of a single family or peace among very diverse nations and cultures in the world, perhaps the first step in living in a peaceful world is to reflect more deeply and more often on who we really are.  If every human being is made in the image and likeness of God, and that is really our natural state, then we are more likely to imitate these three distinct persons whose love is so profound that they are one single God.  Our diversity then would not be a cause of division but would add to the beauty of our unity. 

Even within ourselves we can be like fish who are too curious about the land and who allow ourselves to withdraw too far from our life-giving environment.  So we begin to think that each one of us is a god in his or her own right.  I make the decisions about what truth is, about when life begins or ends.  I decide the boundaries of justice and how I want to express myself sexually.  I claim as my right to make all final decisions.  When each of us becomes a god in our own right, then there competition and getting ahead at the expense of others is perfectly acceptable.  Wasn’t this the original sin of Adam and Eve?  They decided on their own that in order to be “like gods” they needed to make their own decision about eating the fruit God had forbidden them to eat, and this caused nothing but exile from paradise, pain and death.  If they had not bought into the lie of the tempter, they would have realized that they did not need to eat any fruit or do any other thing to be like God, because God has made them like himself in the first place, in his own image and likeness.  And so the consequence of their willful curiosity was the toxicity of death.  When we realize, however, that we have no need to be gods ourselves because we are already one in the true and living God, we are much more in harmony with others, so that we truly live out the image in which we were made, the God who is three persons but one single God. 

It is essential that we constantly contemplate the mystery of the Holy Trinity, because understanding it will help us to truly renounce Satan and all his empty promises, which may seem so attractive and alluring, but are always toxic for us and those around us.  So we not only celebrate this annual feast of the Most Holy Trinity, but we begin and end every Mass in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, this perfect community of unity in diversity, so that we may live more fully in the life-giving atmosphere for which we were created.  And once we have experienced this wholesome, unifying love ourselves, we can do none other than want to follow the Lord’s command to immerse the whole world in its true identity, its life-giving unity in diversity, and to baptize everyone in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.