Trinity Sunday – June 7, 2020

Today’s celebration of Trinity Sunday finds us as people of faith situated in the midst of two very powerful phenomena: the coronavirus pandemic and what I will call the pandemic of racism, both of which have infiltrated our lives in subtle yet insidious ways – both of which have the power to overwhelm, to destroy and to change lives forever – and both of which are overcome in the same way.

While hardly yet in our rear view mirrors, we are beginning to move forward from the pain and suffering associated with the COVID-19 virus.  As of this weekend, every one of the eleven counties of the Diocese of Scranton have begun to slowly and carefully begin the process of returning to some degree of normalcy.  All of our churches have either re-opened or have plans for doing so in the upcoming days.  And more than anything else, we are finally beginning to put behind us the most difficult consequence of this pandemic: living in isolation from our loved ones, friends and neighbors.

I think we’d all agree that the isolation we’ve endured has been the most difficult aspect of the past few months.  We’re not created to live apart from one another.  For all that frightened us about the coronavirus – for all of the economic struggles that so many have had to face because of its impact on our country and our world – it broke our hearts to experience elderly parents waving at us from behind a storm door or through a window of a nursing home.  We felt badly for our children who missed the opportunity to play with their friends.  And we all longed for the day when we could once again gather in our churches to pray and to engage in fellowship one with another.  …  Yet, for as painful as the isolation proved to be, we endured it – for the sake of one another.  We did so out of love.

And we love so selflessly the lives that God has given to us because those relationships are essential to who we are as a people.   …  And why is that so?  …  The answer is found in what we celebrate today as we gather in prayer.

The scriptures proclaim and we have long asserted that we human beings are created in the image and likeness of God.  And today’s feast of the Most Holy Trinity describes the God in whose image we are made:  one God in whom there are three persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – intimately bound together in love.  …  God is a communion of persons.  …  God is relationship.   …  God’s inner self is to be “with,” to be in connection as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  …  And our lives are meant to mirror God’s life in our relationships one to another, rooted in love.

That brings us to the second pandemic that has once again made its presence known in our land: racism.  No different that the coronavirus, it can remain hidden for long periods of time.  Though unseen, it causes fear and anxiety.  Even in the best of us, it often grows quietly until it suddenly explodes with deadly consequences.   And racism too generates a sense of isolation – not born of concern and love for the other – but from hatred, bigotry and discrimination.

The good news is that today’s feast of the Holy Trinity provides us with a way forward in overcoming this pandemic as well.  Just as I reflected a moment ago, we are called to mirror the loving relationship of persons that is the God whom we worship.  The consequence of our response:  love of one’s neighbor is essential to authentic Christianity.  Translated into our lives today, that not only means that we isolate to protect those we love from contracting a deadly virus.  It also means that black lives do matter.  It means that black lives, like every life, are made in the image of our Creator.  As such, every life must be treated with respect and dignity as the gift of God that it is if we are to live as true disciples of Jesus.

We Christians are proud to assert our commitment to life, aren’t we?  Sadly, however, we often lose our focus upon this noble cause – because of the destructive elements that have infiltrated the peaceful efforts of so many who seek justice and equality – or by a host of other distractions that many of us engage subtly or unknowingly until we turn inward and examine ourselves.  As a result, sadly, we can begin to pick and choose who is worthy of respect and who is not, at least in our own minds.

But remember, brothers and sisters, nowhere in our faith tradition is it ever suggested that we are meant to determine who is worthy of redemption and who is not.  That is a task left to God alone.  As such, we who have proclaimed so boldly the absolute value of human life from conception until natural death, need to remember that every life in between is just as deserving of respect and reverence.

May we be humble enough in the face of division to admit our need for conversion as we seek to confront the evil of racism.  May we resolve at this moment in our history to open our lives to God’s gifts of peace, reconciliation and unity.  And may this feast of the Trinity prompt us to finally begin to live with authenticity the one command of Jesus: “Love one another as I have loved you.”  …  Why?  …  Because love conquers a multitude of things.  …  Love has kept us safe in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.  …  And it is the surest and only thing that can overcome the pandemic of racism, hatred and sin.