holy cross sermon for trinity sunday, year a, june 15, 2014

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Genesis 1.26-27:  “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

What does it mean that man is made in the image and likeness of God?  1)  Freedom.  More importantly:  2) love.

1 John 4.7-8: “Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.”

Each human person is created to be a being who is free, and who is able to LOVE freely.  Because God is love.  And if you do not have love – love of God, and love of your fellow man, then you turn away from who you are – you undermine your very personhood, your very createdness.

You probably have heard of the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo.  This is the Christian teaching about God’s creative act:  that all that IS was brought into being “out of nothing” – ex nihilo in Latin.  We are created “out of nothing”.  And this means that when we undermine our personhood, our CREATEDNESS, by failing to love God and our fellow men, we are in fact turning toward that which we are apart from our being made in the image and likeness of God:  we turn toward the NOTHING out of which we were created.

“He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.”  And he who does not love does not even know HIMSELF.  Because man is made in the image and likeness of God, and you cannot know yourself truly without knowing yourself as LIKE GOD, who is love.

So what is divine love?  Listen to what Saint John says (Jn. 3.35):  “the Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand.”  Most fundamentally, most primordially, the love of God is eternal relation of love that obtains between God the Father and God the Son.  And this eternal and perfect mutuality IS God the Holy Spirit.  It is a relation that obtains eternally, “before all worlds” – because it is WHO GOD IS, and God is from everlasting to everlasting.  “Before ever the mountains were brought forth, or the land and the earth were born, from age to age you are God” (Psalm 90.2).

From age to age, God’s being-God means that from age to age, before all worlds – eternally – “the Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand.”

The tremendous gift of God to mankind is though we turned away from this triune communion of love from the beginning, and though we continually turn away from God, and therefore from our own createdness and personhood – yet God loved us, and gave his only Son to die for us, and by dying to EMPOWER us to return to God, and thereby to return to ourselves, to become those whom we were created to be:  creatures bearing the image and likeness of God, who is love – PERSONS with an affinity for God, who loves the Son.

By faith in Jesus Christ, and through the water of Baptism, we again become capable of bearing – of BEING – the image and likeness of God, who is love.

So Saint Paul says in today’s reading from 2 Corinthians:  “Finally, brethren, farewell. Mend your ways, heed my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Cor. 13.11).  When Christians “mend their ways” – when they REPENT – and live together in the bond of peace – IN COMMUNION – then, Paul says, the God of LOVE and of PEACE will be with them.  This passage is more than Paul’s word to the Corinthians:  it is God’s word to his people, to the Church, to those whom he has called away from their slide toward the NIHIL – the NOTHING – into the eternal and mutual delight of his very DIVINITY.

“Mend your ways, heed my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.”

To inhabit the perfect communion of the God of love and peace – in order, in other words, to be SAVED, to be deified, to be HAPPY – our task is to mend our ways, to repent, to agree with one another, and to live in peace.  Mending one’s ways means bringing oneself into conformity with Christ’s commandments.  “If you love me,” he said, “you will keep my commandments.”  And when Paul says “agree with one another and live in peace” he means to agree with the saints, with the rest of mankind with whom we have kinship in the Body of Christ.  This therefore is an appeal to universality, to CATHOLICITY.  Paul is urging us to conform our pattern of thinking and believing to the whole Body of Christ – the Communion of Saints, living and dead: “to attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4.13) as he says elsewhere.  He is telling us, in short, to repent and to live in the communion of the Catholic Church, to obey all that Jesus commands; and he is assuring us that if we do this, the God of love and peace will be with us.

And this is nothing less than what the Lord himself says in today’s Gospel:  “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” he says.  Why?  Because “the Father LOVES the Son and has given all things into his hand.”  And then Jesus says: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” in the name of the triune God, and “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Advertisements

About Fr Will

Fr Will Brown is rector of Holy Cross Dallas
This entry was posted in Sermons. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s