The Feast of the Holy Trinity + John 3:1-15 + June 11, 2017

Order of Holy Communion - Pg. 15
Hymn # 298 Baptized into Thy Name, Most Holy
Hymn # 238 All Glory Be to God Alone
Hymn # 244 Glory Be to God the Father

Introit

BLESS- ED - || be the Holy Trinity and the Undi- | vid- | ed | U-ni- ∙ | ty: *
            Let us give glory to Him for He has shown mercy un- | to | us. (Liturgical Text based on Tobit 13:1-2)
|| O | Lord, | our | Lord, | - *
            How excellent is Your name in all | the | earth,
|| You have set Your glory a- | bove | the | heav- | ens! *
            Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants, You have or- | dained | strength.
|| What is man that You are | mind- | ful | of | him, *
            And the son of man that You vi- | sit | him?
|| For You have made him a little lower | than | the | an- | gels, *
            And You have crowned him with glory and | hon- | or. (Psalm 8:1-2a, 4–5)
|| Bless├Ęd be the Holy Trinity and the Undi- | vid- | ed | U-ni- ∙ | ty: *
            Let us give glory to Him for He has shown mercy un- | to | us. (Liturgical Text based on Tobit 13:1-2)

Collect for the Feast of the Holy Trinity

Almighty and Everlasting God, Who hast given unto us, Thy servants, grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the Eternal Trinity and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity, we beseech Thee that Thou wouldst keep us steadfast in this faith and evermore defend us from all adversities; Who livest and reignest, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Readings

Ezekiel 18:30-32
Romans 11:33-36
John 3:1-15

Sermon

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

 1)         The Catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in three persons and three persons in one God, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the substance. The whole three persons are coeternal together and coequal, so that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.” This the universal Christian faith by which all men are saved. God is One. Yet God is three persons that share the same substance. The Trinity is WHO God is. God the Holy Trinity is also defined in WHAT He does for humanity. But this is not merely an academic exercise for the advanced intellect. Far from it. There is a reason why this is called the mystery of the Holy Trinity. Human reason is unable to comprehend God in and of Himself. If we could comprehend the Godhead entirely then He wouldn’t be God. Human reason will only revolt against such a confession precisely because it doesn’t make sense and can’t be mathematically verified. Human reason can only scratch its head at such a clear confession of something that is ultimately unclear to our natural eyes. This is the Christian faith. So how did we get to this confession?


2)         The Psalmist declares in Psalm 19:1-2, “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge.” The Wisdom of Solomon confesses the same in Wisdom 13:5, “For by the greatness and beauty of the creatures proportionably the maker of them is seen.” Paul preaches to the Athenians that God is not unknowable from the creation, for he says in Acts 14:17, “He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” All this is to say that by observing the creation, it is possible to know something about God. Looking at the course of the sun, moon, and the stars stirs the heart to think how there must be a creator who put these bodies into place. Studying the intricacies of biology, chemistry, and zoology arouse the mind to wonder how all these were designed by someone far greater than oneself. Looking at creation we can reason that there is a God who is far greater than we are, because someone had to put the creation together. Not only must there be a God, but He must be all powerful and almighty if He is to create and sustain all life in the world around us, over us, and under us. St. Paul says in Romans 1:19-20, “What may be known of God is manifest in them [that is, the heathen], for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” Looking at creation we can see many things about God, His attributes, and His nature. And that’s something. But this something about God that we learn from His creation is not enough to do us any real good. St. Paul goes on in Romans 1 to say that although the heathen can learn something about God, in their darkened spiritual state, they turn that knowledge of God into an idol, worshipping wood and stone, tree and shrub.


3)         People can also know something about God through the Law that is written on the hearts from the creation. St. Paul teaches in Romans 2:14-15, “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them.” Everyone is “hard wired” from conception to know that there is a right and a wrong, and the ability to tell the difference. This is why we see the law at work even in uncivilized places. Everyone intrinsically understands that they ought not murder their neighbor, steal away another’s spouse, house, or goods. This Law written on the hearts of all men is what gives all men a conscience. From our conscience we learn something about the God who must’ve put it there. From conscience we learn that God has a will for us. His will is that we act justly and righteously toward our neighbor. His will is that when we break His law, we feel sorrow and pangs of angst over what we’ve done or left undone. Solomon writes in Proverbs 28:1, “The wicked flee when no one pursues,” meaning that the evil conscience won’t let a person off the hook so easily. This knowledge of God is good because it teaches all people that there is punishment for wickedness so wickedness ought to be avoided. But like the knowledge creation gives about God, the knowledge that conscience gives us about God doesn’t really get us anywhere either.
 
4)         All this is called “The Natural Knowledge of God,” what we are able to know about God without God direct intervention. This natural knowledge of God is not enough to save a person because through our natural knowledge we could never confess God as One God in Three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The natural knowledge of God only tells us that there is a God and that He is creator, eternal, almighty, that that He will judge His creatures. So many today want God on their own terms, so they are content with their natural knowledge of God. This God is someone they can get on board with because He only demands two things from people; first, admittance that He is there (somewhere), and second, that He wants people to be on their best behavior. The something we learn of God from our natural knowledge isn’t enough. It won’t suffice. It can’t get us to confess WHO God truly is and WHAT God truly does. Only God Himself can get us to that point. If you want to know God, you must listen as God Himself tells you about Himself. God must reveal Himself to sinners because sinners cannot find God themselves. Sinners aren’t even looking for God.


5)         So He reveals Himself to sinful humanity simply, in human flesh, as the second person of the Holy Trinity ass simply, in human flesh, as the second person of the Holy Trinity assumes our human flesh to bear our sin and be our savior. The Gospel lesson appointed for today teaches us WHO God is and WHAT He does. We learn this as children. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” God sends His Only-Begotten Son. If He sends His Son, then He is the Father. He does not send His Son to judge, not yet anyway. He sends His Son to bring life to those who deserve death. He sends His Son to lighten the eyes of those who sit in darkness. There is a Father who does the sending. There is the Son who is sent, who goes willingly, and who is “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”(John 1:29). In the sending of the Son we see the heart of the Father, He so loved the world that He gave His dear Son for our salvation. He does not send anyone else as His emissary and ambassador. He sends His Only-Begotten Son. In this we see the depth of the riches and wisdom of God and His great compassion for all sinners.

6)         And we see also the Holy Spirit. For Jesus is teaching Nicodemus about how one enters the kingdom of God. Nicodemus assumes you are born into it through your parents. “I was born an Israelite,” like some today say, “I was born a Christian.” But no one is born a true Israelite just as no one is born a Christian. To enter the kingdom you must be born from above, that is, through the Holy Spirit. Jesus says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (John 3:5-6).” The place in Scripture where water and the Spirit come together is Holy Baptism. One cannot see the kingdom of God unless He is born from above by the blessed Sacrament of Baptism. In baptism Christ washes you with His Holy Spirit to cleanse you from your sin. He scrubs you with water and His forgiving Word to cleanse you and regenerate you, to bring you back to life as a true Israelite, one who lives by faith in the promises of God in Christ Jesus. Even in Baptism God reveals Himself to us as the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity. For Jesus gives His disciples, at their ordination, this mandate, “Go therefore and teach all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).” The name into which you are baptized is the Triune Name. You are marked with the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


7)         When St. Peter confesses Christ as the Son of God in Matthew 16, Christ responds with joy, saying, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven (Matthew 16:17).” He says the same thing as we come to faith in the Blessed Holy Trinity because we cannot by our own human reason or strength understand or believe this great truth. God reveals Himself to you as One God in Three Persons so that He may not only teach you WHO He is, but WHAT He does for you. For the Holy Trinity can best be understood according to what He does. God the Father, out of love and compassion, sends His Only-Begotten Son into the flesh, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Christ, the Only-Begotten Son, redeems us from sin, death, and the power of the devil, and reconciles us to God the heavenly Father. In doing so, He gives us the Holy Spirit as a comforter and a guarantee of His great salvation. The entire Trinity is wrapped up in your salvation because He is One God. You will not learn this in the stars or the sun or by oberserving nature. Nor will you continue to learn it by looking at your own morality and conscience. You will learn, and remain in the catholic faith, only by hearing God reveal Himself to you in His Word, spoken and written, in His Holy Baptism, and in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.



The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen.



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