Just the other day, popped in to a local charity shop looking for a bargain or two. I bought some trousers, a jumper and was looking at a book which was as thick as the Bible. It caught my eye because it was titled “Bible of Ancestry.” I pick it up and flicked through the pages only to be asked by a lady, “if I was going to buy it”. “No, it's not something I have time to read.” Oh, good she said, - and she took it out of my hands and took it to the till and bought it.
There are numerous sites on the internet which help you find your ancestry trail. In fact a whole business worth millions of pounds have grown up because of the popular demand of people interested in their family ancestry.
Some like the challenge, whilst others want to sincerely trace their lineage and know the places from which they came. Most are curious to discover if any of their past relatives were famous or made some significant contribution to society or perhaps, were known for special talents or skills.
Information about where we come from and from whom we come can help us to understand ourselves. For example, if a person comes from a long line of musicians, it would not be surprising if that person had an interest in music.
If someone was born into a family where the past three generations had relatives who worked for the NHS as a nurse or doctor, it would not be unexpected to find that individual considering a career in the NHS.
This Sunday, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, we celebrate a feast that tells us about our “Divine Ancestor.” It tells us that the God who created us is a Trinity of Persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In other words, the One God is a community of persons. God is a “Divine Relationship.”
This Divine Relationship is recalled each time a person is baptized “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” This Divine Relationship is how we began this Mass by making the sign of the Cross.
Saint Paul reminds us of that relationship in our Second Reading where he says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”
We were brought to life by that Divine Relationship which we understand as “God” and we are invited to participate and become one in this Divine Relationship. That is why the Son of God came among us. As Jesus tells us, “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.” And what is eternal life, but an everlasting relationship with God.
That everlasting relationship begins in this life through being part of God’s Church present on earth. By participating in worship and prayer, we come to know God the Father who has claimed you and I as his own children. Jesus redeemed us by dying on the Cross- which not only makes us at right with the Father for our failings, but it also shows how much God truly loves you and I, by dying on the Cross- offering His life so that you and I can be free from eternal death. The Holy Spirit whom we celebrated last weekend never ceases to open our minds to the truth and continues to inspire all of us a worshipping community to live in communion with God and with one another.
Unfortunately, it is the case that many in today's world have forgotten God the One to whom they are truly related and have abandoned the faith that was passed on to them by their families. But we must not lose hope! We must plant seeds for the Harvest. Seeds of love, forgiveness and of faith. We have a duty to encourage one another to be strong against the turning tide that does not know the reality that God exists.
This afternoon I was with a parishioner and great friend, Andrew Downs, and as many of you know he is extremely ill, so ill that he is in his last days of life in this world. Whilst talking to him and administering the Sacraments, I shared with him the same words I shared with my own mam before she died, “There is no need to fear because you have been a good and faithful Servant. You will close your eyes to this world and open them up to the reality of God. You will behold the Beatific vision of God, present with all the Angels and what a Joy that will be to behold.”
It is easy to forget that we are pilgrims passing through this world. Death comes and robs us of a loved one and a friend. But because of The Trinity – death does not have the final say. God has overcome death for you and I. Just think for a moment, one day, sooner or later, we will behold the beautiful reality of Heaven and all of Gods children, with the many Angelic choirs. This is a fact, a reality, not a myth, nor just a last moment hope. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are in a never-ending dance of Eternal love and they want to share that with each one of us.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, during his last moments on his death bed had a numinous moment- a reality- a glimpse of what truly exists beyond our lives. The young monk who was by his bed taking down and writing last words of Thomas. With a smile on his face and a peace that could not be put to pen, his eyes lit up and he said, it is all but straw. Thomas had a glimpse of Heaven and even though he is one of the most important Doctors of the Church his whole life's work of theology only scratched the surface of our Loving and Benevolent God.
We celebrate and bring to mind The Blessed Trinity because Mother Church wants to remind us of our invitation to take part in this beautiful dance of love. Saint Augustine once said, “When you die, don’t forget to take your dancing shoes- otherwise the Angels won't know what to do with you.”
This Sunday, the Church celebrates the Divine Relationship of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit that is part of our ancestry. If we truly appreciate our connection to the Trinity, we will better understand God, better understand ourselves as children of God, and be able, by God’s sanctifying grace to live our lives in the best way.
Fr. Simon Broughton.