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Homily for Trinity Sunday, Year B, 2024

A while ago, I remember playing in Alma Park with one of my brothers and his children. There was construction on the trainline running through the park, and the workers had set up a warning system to show when trains were coming. So we were waiting for a train to go by to hear the warning explosions go off. As we were waiting for the train to go by, my niece asked why it was taking so long. I gave some kind of explanation, but her response was to try to coax the train out by singing to it. On the spot, she made up a kind of lullaby which she sung to the trees, the railway and anything else that might pass on her message to the train. It was both hilarious and beautiful at the same time.

What was equally beautiful was the expression on my brother, her dad’s face. He was so obviously completely in love with his daughter. Her weird genius from nowhere created a moment of magic that changed the park, changed the arrival of the train, changed the whole meaning of what was taking place, and he was lost. Or in reality perhaps home in the love for his daughter.

This whole experience reminded me of a type of art that I got interested in. Some of you might know the painter, Caspar David Friedrich. You might know some of his work, like A wanderer above a sea of fog or A monk by the sea. (I have put these on a handout). He is one of the great Romantic painters. He often paints images of people with their back to the viewer, people in front of a grand landscape or some kind of numinous scene. The painted observer becomes a doorway for the viewer into the spectacle, a kind of silent teacher showing how to take in nature, illustrating a certain type of posture to mystery.

Along similar lines, I became interested in a Cuban painter called Tomas Sanchez. He paints hyper-real landscapes as depictions of mental states that he reaches during meditation. Some of Tomas Sanchez’s paintings are quite like those of Friedrich. They often have a small figure either coming upon a wondrous scene or one in meditation. Quite like A monk by the sea.

However, I think my favourite paintings are those in which he has two figures. (Again, I have put an example on the handout.) Usually, one figure is in meditation in front of an awesome landscape, beholding it. And the second figure is beholding the first figure. Sanchez seems to be spelling out what is implicit in Friedrich’s paintings: that somehow one person’s meditation becomes a gateway to another person experiencing the same.

Somehow my experience of love, of enchantment is not limited to me. To an observer, I become part of the mystery that captivates me, and I become part of it in a way that acts as an invitation to another to enter the same communion.

Perhaps that is a way first to think about our first reading, Moses talking about God. Second, perhaps this is a way to think about the Eucharist. Third, because it might be a way to think about the Eucharist, perhaps it is a way to think about the Trinity, the great mystery we focus on today.

Listen to Moses again. <Read first reading>

He is talking about touching the heart of life. The mystery of our existence, of truth, of beauty and of goodness. And the way he talks became a gateway for his people, his memory, his words a type of sacrament for the people of God.

And this is what we do in Mass: we are drawn into the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are being invited to gaze on God gazing on God.

When we stare at the Cross, we are seeing Jesus’s heart beating out of love for the Father, Jesus’s heart beating with the power of the Holy Spirit, and that Holy Spirit of love pouring out of him to baptise the whole of creation. His awesome love responding to the awesome love of the Father, this awesome love that cannot be contained, the fire of the Holy Spirit. It cannot help but to invite us into the mystery. It cannot help but open our hearts. It cannot help but make us into brothers and sisters of Christ, sons and daughters of the Father, temples of the Holy Spirit, burning torches lighting the path for others into this fearsome and wondrous reality.

This is the truth that all those other moments, like the art, but more like my brother and his daughter, this is the truth that all those other moments gesture towards and participate in. This is the life of the universe but only because it is first the life of God.

Thank God we get to share this joy, this life, this love. Thank God we live in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

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