Reading: (Responsorial Psalm)
Daniel 3: 52-56
Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers,… And blessed is your holy and glorious name,… Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory,… Blessed are you on the throne of your kingdom, … Blessed are you who look into the depths … Glory and praise forever!
This is from the section of Daniel’s recording of the prayer of the three young men who were thrown in the furnace. All clergy pray this prayer every Sunday morning. It is one of the greatest, and most mysterious miracles listed in the Bible, as far as I am concerned.
The reason I think that is because the king who wanted to execute these three young Jewish men did not see just them in the furnace, but “one like a son of God” walking around with them. Personally, I believe this was one of the first recordings in Scripture of the second person of the Blessed Trinity appearing on earth. We know him as Jesus, but in the day of Daniel, he was not known.
But the king saw him with Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael, also known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. While the king did become a believer in God because of this miracle, the more important point is the faithfulness of these servants of God, and the faithfulness of God himself. Which leads me to this feast day.
This is Trinity Sunday. It is the most important mystery of God’s self-revelation after the Incarnation. We would not have known of the mystery of the Trinity without the Incarnation. And it is a deeper mystery than the Incarnation.
Let me tell you a little secret: if anyone ever tells you they can define the mystery of the Trinity to you completely… RUN! ????
There are all kinds of ways that people have tried to describe the Trinity, but it is beyond our finite mind’s full understanding. I am not saying we cannot come up with some good approximations, and there are some out there that do help tremendously in our understanding. But any explanation will always leave us with too small a view of who God is as he revealed himself in the Trinity.
That being said, please allow me to offer one example of an attempt at a definition: one of the shortest sentences in the Bible is simply “God is love.” He is defined as love. And love requires relationship. The eternal relationship of love that exists in God is a start at a good explanation of the Trinity. But it is still only a start.
That is why I am so grateful that the church gives us this Song of the Three Young Men as the Responsorial Psalm for this important day.
It focuses our attention on the need to proclaim how great God is. Understanding the setting for this song is just as important. The three young men stood up to the king, even to the point of facing death. This threat from the king did not stop them from doing what they needed to do to remain faithful to the holiness of God.
It was this declaration of faith in God, the faith of their fathers, faith in the glorious nature of his name that led them to defy the king and stand firm even to the point of facing death. They were miraculously rewarded with the salvation of the Son of God – with his very presence in the middle of the furnace – centuries before the Birth of Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God.
In our day, do we have the same level of devotion and love for God as these three brave men? His love for us, based in the Trinity, cannot fail. There have been almost… countless martyrs for the faith throughout the history of Christianity and Judaism. There were those martyred in the time of Daniel, while the three in the furnace were saved.
Why it is that some must face martyrdom, and some seem to have a very simple and easy Christian life – I said seem to have – is part of the mystery of our faith as well. We are led, or drawn, by this relationship of faith and love.
Even though the church has had these two millennia to try to understand the mystery of the Trinity, it still remains a mystery of love and relationship. But it is a relationship that is supposed to draw us into itself, draw us into God! Historically, the best way for that to happen is for us to learn to praise the majesty of God.
Praising the majesty of God is something that our society has forgotten the meaning of. During this last week there were a few who stopped to pray in the middle of all of this violence. Nuns kneeling on the sidewalk as protesters went by. Sheriff’s kneeling with protesters in recognition of the failure of our society to live in the grace of God. Other examples I am sure can be found that would be edifying to our faith.
But there is a lack of willingness on the part of the Body of Christ, as a whole, to speak out in the only way that can overcome the anarchy that is trying to raise its head in our world again. The only way, the only words to speak, must be words praising the majesty of God. It is not just a matter of songs from the civil rights movement such as “we shall overcome…”
No, it must become the song of the three young men who see that the world around us has lost its way and does not understand those lines from the Responsorial Psalm for today that cried out in praise of God, not just asking for God’s intervention in a tragedy, but that cried out to praise the majesty of the only one who has an answer for the depraved humanity that still exists because of Original Sin, and the influence of Satan.
I close by using as a prayer the very words of the three young men that I started with:
Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers,… And blessed is your holy and glorious name,… Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory,… Blessed are you on the throne of your kingdom, … Blessed are you who look into the depths … Glory and praise forever! Amen.