Every year in the early summer, the Church celebrates Trinity Sunday. It’s one of those interesting solemnities that has a limited amount of possible topics for popular preaching.
Inevitably, some homilists go too far into the intricacies of Trinitarian theology, while others are overly cavalier and preach multiple unintentional false teachings about the Godhead.
In such a scenario, what’s the middle ground? Where can a homilist turn to find help in guiding twenty-first century believers into a better understanding of the mystery and power of God who dwells in a forever community of persons?
There are many possible avenues, but the one favored in our times is the very simple and accessible notion of the family. As Pope Saint John Paul II taught, “God in his innermost essence is not solitude, but family.” And there it is! This is the interpretative key that has assisted multitudes of Christians to encounter and more deeply appreciate the reality of the Trinitarian God.
But why speak of such summer fun? This is the Sunday after Christmas, and surely we can avoid such high-leveled theological inquiries. Or can we?
It seems that this particular Sunday, named “Holy Family Sunday,” is a beautiful complement to Trinity Sunday. On this beautiful feast day, we can see the human side of a God who dwells eternally as family. As in heaven, so on earth. As the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit live in perfect unity, so in a similar way Jesus, Mary, and Joseph lived a holy life.
In a uniquely human way, this radically peculiar family, reflected on earth the all-powerful and ever-living union of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Like the Divine Family, the three members of this single earthly family – the God-Man, the perfected Virgin-Mother, and the Most Chaste Spouse – all lived together seeking to form a communion of love and selfless service. And so, the Holy Family serves as an icon of the Triune God.
In being such a window into the inner life of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Family stands as a model for every family on earth.
Saint Paul tells us that every family receives its name from the heavens. And every Christian family is given a weight of glory as it receives the vocation to live the Trinitarian life on earth. This is not an easy task and every positive example and every form of assistance is needed. To such a need, the Holy Family is paramount.
Drawing from the lives of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the Christian family is marked by the love that is shared between its members: parents to children, children to parents, siblings among themselves, and the nuclear family to the extended family. The Christian family labors to be zealous in its faith, ardent in its charity, and firm in its hope. The family dedicated to the Lord Jesus desires to be a place of prayer, mercy, hospitality, and kindness.
Never closing in on itself, the Christian family seeks to share the love it possesses within itself. As such, it has a heart for the poor, the marginalized, and the forgotten. It desires to be an oasis for the weary and the downtrodden.
As the Christian family is inspired by the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, as they display the life of the Triune God, so the Christian family itself also begins to display the interior life of the Trinity. And so, in these ways, we can see the basis of the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that tells us: “The Christian family is a communion of persons, a sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit.”
This is a message worth repeating. It’s one that is needed not only on Trinity Sunday but on Holy Family Sunday as well since, as human beings and as families in the midst of the world, we have to see both sides of the beautiful mystery of God, who dwells forever as family.
And so, on this Holy Family Sunday, we stop and dedicate some of our holiday slumber to consider Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. We thank them for their modeling of the Trinitarian life, as every Christian family attempts to do the same.