Homily preached at Winmalee by Br Andrewvon Sunday 15th June 2014:
Trinity Sunday. Year A.
Many Persons in Ones God
Today is Trinity Sunday and, in the words of Jesus in today’s gospel we find the Trinity inferred for the first time after Pentecost. (Matt.28:19) Considering that we are Monotheists believing God is One then who are these three?
We know of the Father since He is our Creator, we know that Jesus is the one referred to as the “Son” and as for the Holy Spirit, he or she has been here since the world was created:-The Ruach Elohim, Breath of God; who first brooded over the waters (Gen. 1:2), the Ruach Hakkodesh the Holy Breath of God (Ps.51:11) to whom David prayed “do not take your Holy Spirit from me” Yet how is it that these three are One?
In Exodus 34: 5 the One refers to its self as “Yahweh” so we do know that the One has a name. In ancient times to know someone’s name was to know the source of their secret strengths or life, to reveal your name to another was a huge step towards being in relationship with that person. The first time Moses met with Yahweh was at the burning bush,(Ex.3:14) at the beginning of his ministry where we learnt from the Scriptures that “Yahweh is translated I Am that I Am” – Yahweh, Y’hw’h without its now unknown vowels leaving the Hebrew consonant’s which when spoken together Yoh- hey, vah, hey—almost sounds like we are breathing. The Name is the very breath we take to sustain life. I Am forever fully present I AM the One who makes all others things be.
This Yoh-hey,vah,hey is the Ruach Hakkodesh because the Jews have always believed that they are the same. Yet the Ruach hakkodesh is also uniquely itself with its own areas of operation.
“From the time of creation constant reference is made in Holy Writ to Messiah and the Messianic hope of Israel. ‘The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters”; the spirit of God means Messiah.”
(Midrash Genesis Rabbah 2; Leviticus Rabbah 14)
In Judaism, the Midrash (Hebrew: מדרש; plural midrashim) is the body of homiletic stories told by Jewish rabbinic sages to explain passages in the Tanakh. Midrash is a method of interpreting biblical stories that goes beyond simple distillation of religious, legal, or moral teachings. It fills in gaps left in the biblical narrative regarding events and personalities that are only hinted at.purose of midrash was to resolve problems in the interpretation of difficult passages of the text of the Hebrew Bible, using Rabbinic principles of hermeneutics and philology to align them with the religious and ethical values of religious teachers.
As time passes Yahweh reveals only enough about the One who Is as we can understand and have the wisdom and courage to believe.
The Jews of old knew Yahweh as a Father (Ex.4:22), a Shepherd (Psalm 22/23:1), a Husband, (Is.54:5-8), Potter (Jer.18:6), and Vineyard owner, (Ps.80:8-13) they did not as yet know him as a brother; nor would they believe, in a hurry that their Father, through mystic means would beget a human son.
Yahweh in choosing to enter into a relationship with us became vulnerable because the One, with His Spirit entered into Covenant with us to keep us safe and in His anthropomorphic form as his own son knew he would be required to enter creation to suffer and to die to save it from sin and death.
And so it is that another comes to us from Yahweh, One who has always existed, whom we yet do not know: He comes into our world as one of us, a defenceless child, he is the Messiah prophesied in the previous Covenant.
”For to us a child is born. To us a son is given; and the government will be on his shoulders. His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.(Is. 9:6 WEB )
His conception is miraculous, his birth unremarkable, he grows up in Nazareth in a province known as Galilee of the Gentiles.
While Jesus the Christ was with us he taught us more about Yahweh than was ever yet revealed because He is Yahweh, standing in the flesh beside the people of his time and yet seated in heaven taking care of the world. (John 3:13)
Before Jesus ascended into heaven he said to his Apostles ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And look, I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.' (Matt 28: 17b-20 NJB)
Jesus also promised that his Father would send another Comforter, the Spirit of Truth and this is the one we have already met, this Spirit, is the Ruach-Hakkodesh of old, given to the 72 Elders to Prophets and Kings, sometimes not permanently, as in the case of King Saul, who went mad when the spirit left him.
The Holy Spirit is not just given selectively to the chosen but on the day of Pentecost roughly 33 AD was sent, into the world as a Person, in his or her own right – just as the prophet Joel prophesied “ In the last days -- the Lord declares -- I shall pour out my Spirit on all humanity. Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young people shall see visions, your old people dream dreams.” (Acts 2:16,17:cf Joel 3 NJB)
We live because we breathe the Spirit of Yahweh
When the Holy Spirit comes upon us it melds with our own Spirit to testify that we are now sons and daughters of Yahweh, inheritors of all good things, brothers and sisters of Christ, one with Yahweh.
Now, with two out of three of the members of the One having been manifest in the world, and Jesus the Word made flesh having ascended back to heaven as a human being the Church gradually began asking how does the puzzle actually work. How are these three One? Since Jesus was once human how is he divine? Is he a different Person/part of God than he was when he was the Word?
We are spatial, linear beings and so Yahweh’s wonderful gift of his only selves causes us to get out our metaphorical screwdrivers to try to take God apart, rather than to simply say aha, how wonderful.
From Jewish Midrash we learned that Yahweh and his Spirit are the same,from the earlier Covenant we know that Yahweh was called Father by the Israelites therefore from Jesus, who says that he and the Father are One we know that Jesus and Yahweh are the same.
Therefore we know that God is Yahweh,Yeshuah, and Ruach Hakkodesh, (Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit) that each are fully Yahweh ( God) and at the same time uniquely themselves. Sometimes we relate to a Father or to Jesus or to the Spirit. Sometimes to all three as One
Let us close with the part of the prayer Jesus prayed for all believers
20 My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,
2 1 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—
23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:20-23 NIV)
There are as many Persons of God as there are his Children, all one with God all uniquely ourselves.