“The only thing that really can engage us and captivate us and get our creative juices moving and flowing is mystery.” – Father Mark
The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is central to the Christian faith and life. It is a belief that boggles the human mind, but not one to push aside or ignore. Instead, Father Mark urges us to simplify the mystery and think about it differently to make it more accessible in our faith lives.
Hi everyone, and welcome to Weekly Homilies with Father Mark Suslenko, Pastor of SS. Isidore and Maria Parish in Glastonbury, Connecticut. We are part of the Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford. I’m Carol Vassar, parish director of communications, and this is Episode 22 of Season 6 for the The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity: June 4, 2023. Our Gospel reading from John, Chapter 3, verses 16-18
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
The Gospel of the Lord.
“The Mystery of the Trinity” by Father Mark S. Suslenko, Pastor, SS. Isidore and Maria Parish, Glastonbury, Connecticut
Innate in human beings is this need to know and understand. It’s a desire that flows from within: to know and understand not only what is happening to ourselves but to know and understand the world around us, how it’s put together. It is this natural curiosity, this desire to know, that has led us to where we are today; that has seen incredible advances in the medical field, in sciences that has taught us so much about how we’re put together, of how the world operates, and even the technology that is so much a part of our lives these days.
And so it is a valuable tool that we have to navigate our way through the world. And inevitably, as we seek to know and understand what is around us and what’s happening to us, we’re going to bump up against those things that we do not understand, those things that we cannot know. This element of mystery, which is also a part of our lives. And so there is this underlying thought, especially with science, that the goal really is to eliminate the mystery. That mystery is really something to be solved. It’s a problem. And that the more we can know and understand and the less mystery we have, the better off we are as human beings and the more control we have as human beings. And so, when we bump up against the unknowable, the tendency is to put it aside as irrelevant at the moment, dismiss it as insignificant, or just simply ignore it altogether.
But is that really our approach to life? Is that really what makes us the healthiest, most focused we can be?
G.K. Chesterton has a wonderful quote about mystery. He says, “As long as we have mystery, we have health. When we destroy mystery, we create morbidity.” so getting rid of the unknown, ignoring the unknown, or not having a relationship with mystery, actually, in his definition, is unhealthy. It actually can lead to dysfunction, disorientation, and negativity. And so there is this thought that mystery has a healthy place in our life.
Think about it for a moment. If we knew all things, what would stretch us? What would engage us? What would captivate us? What would inspire us? If we ever got ourselves to the point where we truly did know all things and understand all things, then what happens to the human spirit? The only thing that really can engage us and captivate us and get our creative juices moving and flowing is mystery. And so we need to keep this as a part of the vision for life and who we are.
We can consider something as simple in one sense, simple as human love. We all know that we need human love, but we also know that we have to and desire to give it away as well. And there’s a lot of things we understand about love: we understand its effect and its power, but there’s a lot of things that we don’t understand about love. We can’t take love, put it in a box, analyze it and dissect it, and present it to someone as love. As much as we know about it, as much as we know that it’s needed and necessary, there’s still something very mysterious about that reality of love that defies our comprehension, and it remains part of a mystery.
Take the feast we celebrate today: the glorious mystery of the Holy Trinity. Here we have a body of teaching that says that God is one but three persons. And we must admit, as we try to put human language around how that all works and how those persons fit together in one being, we don’t have the ability to truly understand that intellectually, nor should we. But does that mean that this Trinitarian God is inaccessible to us? Incomprehensible? Or, because it’s a mystery, do we simply step away from it, push it aside, or ignore it like we do with other things that we can’t understand fully? Well, if we can simplify it a bit and think about it a bit differently, perhaps it isn’t as inaccessible as we may think.
I’ve often referenced three powerful words in Scripture before, and they’re found in the First Letter of John, and I think it can take the mystery of the Holy Trinity and bring it down to something that makes sense to us, and if these are the words: God is love. Period. God is love. So you can take all of the verbiage and all of the teaching of the Blessed Trinity, and really we’re talking about God himself, and so, therefore, God is love.
So we know the importance of human love. So if we can imagine God as this being of love incarnate. God is love itself: the author of Love, the magnificent power of Love, eternal Love. That you have this being of great power and magnificence who’s been able to create this world, this universe, to put all of those pieces together and then create us as well. And generations upon generations of folks who have been on this planet that are also his children and many more yet to come, that this powerful presence of love wants to communicate to you and to you and to me how much he loves us, how much he is with us, and who he really is as God.
Now, this God who has created each one of us gave each one of us a gift that God always respects, and it’s the gift of free will, the gift of free will. So in order for us to love God, we can’t be coerced. He can’t force us. He chooses not to do that. It has to be something we freely do. We have to want to love God; just as we want to love a person, we have to do that with freedom. And so how does this magnificent, great God that can shatter things communicate the gentleness of his presence to us in a way that we can freely accept it?
Enter the brilliant idea of the Most Holy Trinity.
God, who existed for all time and all space, wanted to communicate his love to us. And so he took the word that existed from all time, the word that created all things, and he made that word flesh in Jesus Christ. And sent that word among us, and that enfleshed word communicated compassion and love and forgiveness. That enfleshed word suffered, felt the pain and agony of suffering and death, understood rejection, knew the power of forgiveness, knew the frailty of the human soul and the dignity of the human person.
And God said, “That’s me. As magnificent and powerful as I can be. I’m also gentle as a lamb.” And when you knew that we could see him no more as the word need come flesh, he left us the beautiful gift of the Eucharist, but also the breath of his spirit, given not through any magnificent gesture other than through the breath that was communicated from his mouth; A breath of life that flows through all things and is all things.
And so we have the creative, the vibrant, the ever-giving, ever-empowering, all-creating, regenerating presence of God in the spirit. It. And God says to us, “I am with you.” And when we find God in these very gentle ways, in these very humble ways, in these very ordinary ways, it stirs within us this desire to encounter the mystery of this presence in a real and concrete way. So that we can, upon finding God in the human soul, in the very stuff of the earth and in the breath that we breathe, and in the soaring and desires of the human spirit, we can then freely look upon him and love him. Not because we’ve been coerced or forced but because we found him freely and want to give back to him freely what he has bestowed upon us.
Father Mark Suslenko is the pastor of SS. Isidore and Maria Parish in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Learn more about our parish community at www.isidoreandmaria.org. And follow us on social media: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Our music comes free of charge from Blue Dot Sessions in Fall River, Massachusetts. I’m Carol Vassar. Thanks for joining us.