The Blessed Mother and the Blessed Trinity

Here is my homily from this Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity:

Each year, the Sunday after Pentecost is designated as Trinity Sunday. Although we gather to worship the Triune God every week and even every day, yet this Sunday we are invited to contemplate the mystery of the Trinity in a more focused manner. It is the central mystery of our faith and also the greatest mystery of our faith. There is much that we can say about the Blessed Trinity; yet there is infinitely more that we cannot say – or even, in this life, understand. But it is important to point out that the Trinity is not only a mystery of our faith, but that it is a mystery which can only be known by faith. Through reason alone we can arrive at the certain knowledge of the existence of God, but unaided reason can never figure out that God is both one and three – one God in three Persons. We believe in and profess the Holy Trinity because he has given us the faith to do so.

Rather than preach about the theological details and technicalities of the three Divine Persons or some such message this year, I’d like to focus on a particular topic that I think will help us to appreciate the Blessed Trinity’s activity in and relationship to our own lives better; I’d like to consider our Blessed Mother’s relationship with the Holy Trinity. She alone among human beings has perfectly known, loved, and served God during her time on earth; and as our model in the spiritual life, she can teach us how to do so better, as we strive towards that Christian perfection to which all are called. Remember always the words of our Lord in the Gospel: “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” This is our common call, and the Blessed Virgin Mary shows us the way. We must therefore consider what her life reveals to us about living in communion with the Triune God.

Before all else, we recognize in the gospels that the Blessed Mother is the beloved daughter of God the Father. He created her out of love – as he did for each one of us. He saved her from sin – as he does and will do for each one of us. He chose her for a special mission during her life on earth – as he does for each of us (even if our missions are far lowlier!). I could go on with comparisons between her life and ours, but the most important thing we can consider is that Mary always knew that she was the beloved daughter of the Father. She lived and breathed God’s love; she was secure in his love. God’s love was what motivated her choices and was the goal of her choices. We ask her to intercede for us and help us to have this same realization, for we find it all too easy to doubt God’s love and even reject it. Each one of us, by virtue of our baptism, is a beloved son or daughter of God.

In her relationship with God the Son Mary has a very unique role: that of being his mother. She was the chosen vessel to bring the Son into the world as man. She carried him in her womb and nurtured him at her breast. She helped shape his humanity and prepare him for his mission. But how could we relate to any of this? It might not be so obvious at first. But ask yourself: Have you nurtured your relationship with Christ, feeding and shaping his presence in you through sound spiritual practices and other helps to your faith? Have you nurtured and shaped Christ in others by setting a good example for them or helping them to find him? Have you accompanied Christ as he treads a path through your life – just as Our Lady was always at his side, even when he hung upon the cross? Our “motherhood” of Christ, so to speak, is analogous, but it is a strong analogy. We ask our Blessed Mother to help us live out that relationship with God the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, as well.

Then there is her relationship with God the Holy Spirit. Several saints spoke of the Blessed Mother as the “spouse” of the Holy Spirit, and I think we can readily understand that image since it was by the Holy Spirit that she conceived Christ in her womb. Her union with God was so real and so intense that it not only bore fruit in the birth of Christ but meant that she was continually united with him at every moment of her life. But perhaps we would find it quite difficult to think of ourselves in a “spousal” relationship with God. There is also the fact that the Holy Spirit operates in sometimes very different ways in the life of each individual person – the Scriptures speak of the Holy Spirit as being like wind that blows where it wills. Yet, in spite of our possible doubts, understanding our own spousal relationship with God comes right down to what I preached about last week: namely, whether the Holy Spirit lives in us as a temple or not. If we have not cast him out of our souls through mortal sin – or if we have done so, but then repented of our mortal sin through sacramental Confession – then he dwells within us in a most intimate way and helps us to be conformed more and more to his likeness.

We thus have a third and final prayer to make to our Blessed Mother. We not only ask her to help us be more aware of God the Father’s love and call, and to help us be good “mothers” of God the Son by nurturing and causing his presence to increase in our lives and the lives of others. We also ask her to help us steer clear of sin, and to repent of it promptly when we fall, so that God the Holy Spirit might ever dwell in our hearts and we might ever grow in union with him. She is our model in the spiritual life, and by contemplating and imitating her relationship with the three Divine Persons we can come to appreciate and live out better our own relationship with the Triune God. She gave God glory in everything, and thus we conclude now as well: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.

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