I was away for most of yesterday, and spent my entire evening at a farewell party for good friends. Due to some confusion and conflicting schedules, we don’t have a homily for today’s readings, so today I am sharing Pope Francis’s Angelus address today on the Holy Trinity. Rather than providing a doctrinal summary of the Trinitarian dogmas, he explains to us in practical terms the implications of faith in our Triune God and how the Holy Trinity teaches us that God “reveals himself through love,” and that it is through our acts of love that we bring God’s love to others. He explains that love means “Not only to wish them well and to be good to them, but first and foremost, at the root, to welcome others, to be open to others, to make room for others, to make space to others. This is what it means to love, at the root.”
Here is the portion of the address that reflects on the Holy Trinity:
Today is the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, and in the Gospel of the celebration Jesus presents the other two divine Persons, the Father and the Holy Spirit. He says of the Spirit: “He will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come”. And then, regarding the Father, he says: “All that the Father has is mine” (Jn 16:14-15). We notice that the Holy Spirit speaks, but not of himself: he announces Jesus and reveals the Father. And we also notice that the Father, who possesses everything because he is the origin of all things, gives to the Son everything he possesses: he keeps nothing for himself and he gives himself fully to the Son. Or rather, the Holy Spirit speaks not of himself; he speaks about Jesus, he speaks about others. And the Father does not give himself, he gives the Son. It is open generosity, one open to the other.
And now let us look at ourselves, at what we talk about and what we possess. When we speak, we always want to say something good about ourselves, and often, we only speak about ourselves and what we do. How often! “I have done this and that…”, “I had this problem…”. We always speak like this. How different this is from the Holy Spirit, who speaks by announcing others, and the Father the Son! And, how jealous we are of what we possess. How hard it is for us to share what we possess with others, even those who lack the basic necessities! It is easy to talk about it, but difficult to practice it.
This is why celebrating the Most Holy Trinity is not so much a theological exercise, but a revolution in our way of life. God, in whom each Person lives for the other in a continual relationship, in continual rapport, not for himself, provokes us to live with others and for others. Open. Today we can ask ourselves if our life reflects the God we believe in: do I, who profess faith in God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, truly believe that I need others in order to live, I need to give myself to others, I need to serve others? Do I affirm this in words or do I affirm it with my life?
The One and Triune God, dear brothers and sisters, must be manifested in this way – with deeds rather than words. God, who is the author of life, is transmitted not so much through books as through witness of life. He who, as the evangelist John writes, “is love” (1 Jn 4:16), reveals himself through love. Think about the good, generous, gentle people we have met; recalling their way of thinking and acting, we can have a small reflection of God-Love. And what does it mean to love? Not only to wish them well and to be good to them, but first and foremost, at the root, to welcome others, to be open to others, to make room for others, to make space to others. This is what it means to love, at the root.
To understand this better, let us think of the names of the divine Persons, which we pronounce every time we make the Sign of the Cross: each name contains the presence of the other. The Father, for example, would not be such without the Son; likewise, the Son cannot be considered alone, but always as the Son of the Father. And the Holy Spirit, in turn, is the Spirit of the Father and the Son. In short, the Trinity teaches us that one can never be without the other. We are not islands, we are in the world to live in God’s image: open, in need of others and in need of helping others. And so, let us ask ourselves this last question: in everyday life, am I too a reflection of the Trinity? Is the sign of the cross I make every day – the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit – that Sign of the Cross we make every day, a gesture for its own sake, or does it inspire my way of speaking, of encountering, of responding, of judging, of forgiving?
May Our Lady, daughter of the Father, mother of the Son and spouse of the Spirit, help us to welcome and bear witness in life to the mystery of God-Love.
Also of significance during the address was Francis’s words to those from the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. Two days ago, the Vatican announced that the apostolic pilgrimage to the two African nations, originally scheduled for July, would be postponed. This prompted more speculation about the possibility that a papal resignation is imminent. His comments this morning, in which he said that he hoped the trip would be rescheduled soon, appeared to push back against these theories. He said,
“Dear friends, with great regret, due to problems with my leg, I have had to postpone my visit to your countries, planned for the first days of July. I truly feel great sorrow for having had to postpone this trip, which means so much to me. I apologize for this. Let us pray together that, with the help of God and medical attention, I will be able to be with you as soon as possible. Let us be hopeful!”
Pope Francis also spoke about Ukraine, saying, “The thought of the people of Ukraine, afflicted by war, remains vivid in my heart. Let the passage of time not temper our grief and concern for that suffering population. Please, let us not grow accustomed to this tragic situation! Let us always keep it in our hearts. Let us pray and strive for peace.”
This feeling of becoming accustomed to ongoing situations of evil has been weighing on me lately, particularly in the way many of us have become numb to mass shootings in the United States. This was something I spoke about with Cardinal Blase Cupich and Jeannie Gaffigan in the latest episode of Field Hospital. I noted how the 1999 school shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado had completely shocked me, but how 23 years later, after so many mass killings, the scandal has lost its shock. Systemic evils and structural sins like abortion and racism have a way of desensitizing us. This is no excuse to stop praying and striving for justice, however.
I’d like to add one last parting reflection. At last night’s farewell party, one of our hosts spoke about how they suffered a miscarriage last year, and mentioned how our mutual friend (the wife of the couple who is moving away) gave her a card, in which she wrote the following quote from Servant of God Madeleine Delbrêl (d. 1964):
“All we know is that anything surrendered to God is never lost.”
In his address this morning, Pope Francis said, “And, how jealous we are of what we possess. How hard it is for us to share what we possess with others, even those who lack the basic necessities! It is easy to talk about it, but difficult to practice it.” How hard it is, likewise, to offer to God what we have lost. My wife and I also suffered a miscarriage last year, and many of our friends and loved ones have also lost children in recent years. This upcoming Tuesday would also have been my sister’s 44th birthday. Sometimes it becomes too easy to dwell on what we have and what we don’t have.
It can be hard to accept that very little of what we have on this earth is permanent. But the paradox of the Christian faith is that we believe that everything we have belongs to God, and that God has given us everything we need. Let us pray for the grace to accept this.