In the first part of this series, I offered a “Naughty List” of preaching don’ts for Trinity Sunday. Below is the “Nice List” or “Thou Shalts” (or at least "shouldsts") for Trinity Sunday, along with some additional commentary.
The Nice List
- Thou shouldst preach Scripture; don’t ignore it.
The Great Commission (Matthew 28:16–20), the Baptism of the Lord, the Transfiguration, Genesis 1, John 1, John 17, Hebrews, 1 Corinthians 12, and Romans 8 are all especially rich scriptural texts for Trinitarian reflection.
- Thou shouldst preach salvation.
The Catechism teaches: “The ultimate end of the whole divine economy is the entry of God’s creatures into the perfect unity of the Blessed Trinity. But even now we are called to be a dwelling for the Most Holy Trinity” (CCC, §260). Our hope for salvation is to enter into perfect unity with the Trinity. The meaning of our life now is to become a dwelling for the Trinity. How can the Trinity possibly be extraneous to Christian life?
- Thou shouldst preach the liturgy and the liturgical year.
In any liturgy, we pray to the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. Christian prayer—especially liturgical prayer—is irreducibly Trinitarian. The very way we offer prayer shows how God works for us as three Persons. When we glorify God, then, we give glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, or to the Father with the Son together with the Holy Spirit. The very way we give glory to God shows the unity of God.
As for the liturgical year, it may feel like Trinity Sunday just happens to come after Easter and we might as well celebrate this solemnity now. But the sequence of the mysteries of Christ leads to the celebration of the Most Holy Trinity. Through Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter, we mark time by waiting for the Savior: his birth, Baptism, Passion, Death, Resurrection, Ascension, sending of the Holy Spirit, and then the Most Holy Trinity. By the path the Savior has blazed, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, the whole Church is now drawn up into the contemplation of the Most Holy Trinity.
- Thou shouldst preach Baptism.
In Baptism, Christians are immersed into God’s life: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Trinity is not foreign to us; the Trinity shapes who we are.
- Thou shouldst preach the Name.
In the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16–20), Jesus commands his disciples to baptize all nations in the name, not names, of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This one name is the name of God. In this name there are three Persons. As Christians, we live and move and have our being in the name of God.
- Thou shouldst preach the Sign of the Cross.
Is there anything more common to Catholic life than the Sign of the Cross? It is a prime action for further reflection to show how everything we do in the faith is done with the imprint of the Trinity.
- Thou shouldst preach that God is Love.
This is the only true statement about love; all others are only true in accordance with this one claim. It is not true that ‘Love is God’ and certainly not that ‘Love is love.’ God is Love, so to preach on who God is and what God does is to preach about love, in love.
- Thou shouldst preach the Trinity outside of Trinity Sunday.
One of the problems with Trinity Sunday is that it feels like some alien concept has drifted into our parishes on this one day––“The Trinity”––while the rest of the year we focus on “God.” Preaching should be Trinitarian year-round.
Without the Trinity, there are no Christians. May those entrusted with the ministry of preaching remind us that to be Christian is to become a sharer in God’s life and to be ordered to the perfection of that life in the Most Holy Trinity, and may the rest of us practice and teach the Christian faith in our homes, schools, and parishes to the glory of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
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Featured image: Icon of the Holy Trinity by Andrei Rublev (d. 1430); public domain.