“It is not the COVID that is destroying humanity. It is the anti-Trinitarian tendency that has infected the family, country and the world.”
Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon, Myanmar, expressed this in his June 7, 2020 message provided to ZENIT English for the Feast of the Holy Trinity, which contains a profound analysis of the Trinity in a contemporary context.
The President of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) prayed that amid the difficulties facing humanity especially at this time, that we let the power of the Trinity touch us all.
Speaking on the Trinity, Cardinal Bo prayed the “blessings of the Trinity, the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit fill every corner of your house and bring joy, peace and good health to all.”
Recognizing that this blessing unites us with the past, present and future, he observed that we celebrate with joy, God the Father the Creator, the Son, the savior and liberator and the Holy Spirit, the counsellor and consoler.”
“Let this feast of Trinity,” he hopes, come as a healing power of a planet wounded by COVID and racial injustice.”
Today, he says, we gather to celebrate this trinitarian experience: God is – God for us the creator : the Father; God with Us: ( Emmanuel) the Son; God Within Us : ( Temple of the Holy Spirit) the Holy Spirit.”
The Archbishop of Yangon reminded we are created by God the Father, We were saved by Christ the Son and we are led into holiness through the Holy Spirit.
“In short,” he says, “Trinity is God’s love in action.”
“Trinitarian experience is not an exotic one. It is embedded in each one of us. Life is a multi layered experience. But it does not destroy our uniqueness as a person with a clear identity. We, as individuals, are made of three distinct attributes : body, soul and mind.”
These three, he noted, produce the unity of the person who I am.
To a world battling the coronavirus pandemic, he encourages faithful to not lose hope.
On this feast day, he encourages all faithful to turn away from the theological and philosophical abstracts and turn towards how the exemplary life of Trinity can guide us in our lives.
“As we look around seeing so many families lie wounded, our country remains wounded and the world is at war with itself. It is not the COVID that is destroying humanity,” he suggests, saying: “It is the anti Trinitarian tendency that has infected the family, country and the world.”
Myanmar is emerging from decades of military rule after Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won the 2015 elections and has taken office.
The Muslim minority in Myanmar of the Rohingyas is considered by the UN to be one of the most persecuted. According to data from the Arakan Project, a humanitarian organization defending Rohingyas rights, since 2010, some 100,000 members of the minority have fled Burma (Myanmar) by sea. Violence between radical Buddhists and Rohingyas has left, since 2012, more than 200 dead and 140,000 displaced.
Here is Cardinal Bo’s message:
Sermon Preached By Cardinal Charles Maung Bo., SDB
St Mary’s Cathedral, Yangon, Myanmar.
7th June 2020
Happy Feast of the Holy Trinity.
This marvelous feast comes this year at the juncture of humanity’s prayer for peace and healing. May the Power of Trinity touch each one of you.
May the Blessings of the Trinity, the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit fill every corner of your house and bring joy, peace and good health to all. This blessing unites us with the past, present and future. We celebrate with joy, God the Father the Creator, the Son, the savior and liberator and the Holy Spirit, the counsellor and consoler. Let this feast of Trinity come as a healing power of a planet wounded by COVID and racial injustice. God be praised.
The experience and concept of Trinity is an enriching faith experience, yet it could be challenging. Not only for ordinary people, but even to theological giants like St Augustine.
Many of us are familiar with the old story of St. Augustine walking along the beach one day, taking a break from writing his treatise on the Trinity, whose Solemnity we celebrate today.
The great scholar just couldn’t get his mind around this great mystery. The story goes that he saw a little boy digging a hole in the sand, and then running to the ocean, filling up his hands with the seawater, running back to the hole and emptying the water into the hole.
Augustine watched as the child went back and forth several times. Finally he said to the boy, “What are you doing?” The boy said, “Trying to fill that hole with the ocean.” And Augustine said, “You’ll never fit the ocean in that hole.”
And the boy said, “Neither will you be able to fit the Trinity into your mind.”
Yes. Trinity is neither a concept, nor a theological jugglery. Trinity is a relationship, Trinity is a deep and moving experience. Trinity is God’s Love in action. Trinity is about living in community, for community, as expressed in the Trinitarian concept of God as a Community. Trinity is union of three persons with humanity. Tri means three and “nity” refers to Unity. Three Persons in United in one Godhead.
Today we gather to celebrate this trinitarian experience.
- God is – God for us the creator : the Father,
- God with Us : ( Emmanuel) the Son,
- God Within Us : ( temple of the holy Spirit) the Holy Spirit.
We are created by God the Father, We were saved by Christ the Son and we are led into holiness through the Holy Spirit. In short, Trinity is God’s love in action.
Trinitarian experience is not an exotic one. It is embedded in each one of us. Life is a multi layered experience. But it does not destroy our uniqueness as a person with a clear identity. We, as individuals, are made of three distinct attributes : body, soul and mind. These three produce the unity of the person who I am.
Even in ordinary life, some of us are fathers or mothers to our children, at the same time we are sons and daughters to our parents and we are friends to someone. The experience may be different at every level; but each one of us is unique and shares the attributes of being a father or mother, son or daughter or friend. Even our existence is multidimensional : we belong to various ethnic groups, Kachin, Karen etc., but we are also Christians and we are also citizens of this nation.
What lessons do we derive from the experience of Trinity in our families?
The experience of Trinity is intense in the family. In many ways every family is Trinitarian : sharing, loving, belonging and caring. The father of the family in many ways reflects the sharing nature of God the Father, creating a joyful family, the mother reflects the love of the trinity by her selfless service to her family and the children reflect the caring nature of the trinity by their care and concern for all.
The concept of Trinitarian God has been healing human history. Monotheistic God experience was polluted by man’s violent nature. It presents a God who is violent, vengeful, intolerant of diversity, tribalistic and a heartless legalistic bulldozer . This concept of God is root of many historical conflicts.
But the first pages of the Bible opens up with the presence of God the creator and the Holy Spirit hovering over the creation. Jesus is expressed as God’s promise of a messiah in The Old testament :
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. (Is 7:14).
The New Testament affirmed this beautiful concept of Triune God in Jesus’ baptism event when the three persons of Trinity made their presence pronounced amidst the graphic splendor.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water. Suddenly the heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and resting on Him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. ( Mathew 3:17).
Our faith in Trinity releases our minds from vengeful parochialism. Trinity shows the immense richness of Unity in Diversity.
Catholic church understands this unity in diversity well. The very word Catholic refers to a mentality : That is the universal fraternity of men and women of all races and greed. We are different by race, color, language and nationalities. But our faith unites us. But Catholics understand with Paul the Trinitarian unity in diversity reached through Jesus :
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. ( Gal 3: 28).
This oneness in Christ is our Sunday gathering. Our Communion service on every Sunday is a reflection of the community concept of Trinitarian Unity as exalted by Paul.
Trinity is not an abstract concept. Trinity is a relationship with a living, loving and liberating God. The Feast of Trinity comes at a time, when trials and tribulations confront a wounded world. The family, the country and the world can learn from the Trinity how to live in a nurturing life empowered by a sense of sharing community.
The Trinitarian understanding of God is very empowering and liberating : He is a God who lives in community. There is no power. It is love shared among three persons of the Trinity. If God can live in harmonious community, humanity can solve its problem through a sense of community and common good.
The Bible defines the three persons succinctly :
- God the Father showed unconditional love He was not hesitant to sacrifice his own Son : “ God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, not to condemn but to redeem.” (John 3: 16)
- God the Son showed Sacrificial Love – Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)
- God the Holy Spirit who empowers our growth through his gifts : (I Cor 12: 8-10)
- Trinity is love, trinity is sacrifice, trinity is our energy for development.
- Trinity is the unity in harmony, unity in sharing, unity in mutual enrichment.
- Trinity is the inspiration and Road map for our life in family, in our country and in our world.
On this great feast day, we turn away from the theological and philosophical abstracts and turn towards how the exemplary life of Trinity can guide us in our lives.
As we look around many families lie wounded, our country remains wounded and the world is at war with itself. It is not the COVID that is destroying humanity. It is the anti Trinitarian tendency that has infected the family, country and the world.
- Let us take the family. What is the message of the Trinity?
The trinity of the family is the father, mother and children.
What are the Trinitarian traits of a family :
- The unconditional love of the father for his family, his wife and children
- The self sacrificial love of the mother to nurture the family
- The ethical development of the children based on faith
What are the obstacles to Trinitarian spirit of Unity in the family life?
- Lack of a sense of family : Lack of love of the father, arrogant and violent control by the father, lack of forgiveness, abusive relationships with the wife and children, refusal to share in harmony, domestic violence against the wife and children.
- Lack of sacrificial love from the mother, egoistic conflicts with the husband and children, lack of give and take, relationship based on business, refusal to lead the family in faith.
- Lack of gratitude from children: Children increasingly using their parents and abandoning them, lack of respect to the parents. Wasting God given talents and times.
Families need to be healed by Trinitarian gifts of love, sacrifice and hard work.
- Secondly the Trinity has great lessons for our country Myanmar.
What is the message of Trinity to our country? What is the message to the Three major stakeholders in this country : The military, the government and the people of this nation?
This country has been bleeding for six decades with war, conflict and displacement. The Trinity has blessed this country with so many gifts. The three major actors : The Military, the government and the people of Myanmar need to strengthen the Trinitarian traits of Unity and sharing. This country needs to reflect the Trinitarian attributes of equitable and harmonious living and Unity. We are created for Unity, and call our nation, the Union of Myanmar.
The Trinitarian Presence in Myanmar
- The Father’s love expressed through creation of this nation as a jewel on the earth with so many gifts: God the Father has partial love for the people of Myanmar. He has given so many treasures above the ground and below the ground, so that all of us can live in prosperity and unity. Really this nation is the Garden of Eden and God’s command to this nation is “ Go and Together prosper in unity”.
- We are a great nation of various tribes and creeds. 135 tribes and a colorful nation of rich cultures. . Myanmar is God’s flower park of scintillating diversity of people and nationalities. Unity in Diversity, Dignity in Diversity. We are a graceful people. Jesus prays for our nations “That they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us.’ (John 17:21)
- A nation of gifted youngsters, a nation so young that 60 percent of its people are below the age of 40 and energetic. A nation blessed with great human resource, a nation of great promise. The parable of the talents ( Mt 25) indicates that more than our Jade and gold and all the natural resources, Myanmar’s greatest asset is our people. Equal opportunities to all will bring Unity in this nation. Ours is a nation of promise of prosperity. That Trinitarian hope unites us all.
But God who blessed us so much seemed to have forgotten to bless us with peace. There are major obstacles to the Trinitarian Road Map of Unity, Peace and Prosperity.
Ours is a wounded nation. Slowly it is healing itself. Wars, displacement and unsafe migration and dangerous diseases have wounded us as a people and nation. On this great feast of Trinity, we offer our Golden land to the protection of God’s great love, Christ’s salvific love and the nurturing protection of the Holy Spirit. We pray that the following obstacles to Trinitarian blessing to this nation be melted by the intervention of Trinity
- Divisions and lack of sharing. God the Father’s great blessings of the natural resources are a great source of conflict. Internal wars, deaths and displacement has anguished our motherland. Lack of equitable sharing and looting of resources in total violation of the unity and sharing principle of Trinity has only brought tears and shatteredness to sons and daughters of this great nation.
- Selfishness and avarice of those who had power in the past : This nation was once the richest nation in South East Asia. God’s blessings of nature and human resource was envy of all nations. Sadly in the past this nation fell into the hands of men of avarice. To this men of small mind is the sad credit of turning one of the richest countries in Asia into one of the poorest. Poverty is an offence against God’s blessings on this nation. We pray our present rulers bring peace and prosperity.
- Religions silence over narratives of hatred : This golden land has been wounded by venomous narratives of hatred propagated by malicious men in the name of religion. Unity and diversity is a Trinitarian trait of great show of sharing and love and concern. These traits were nullified by a handful of men who unleashed religious and ethnic hate speech provoking international outrage.
May the Trinity which blessed our nation with treasures bless us with the treasure of unity and peace.
- What is the message Trinity to the Global World?
We are not an Island. We live in a world which struggles hard to bring the Trinitarian sense of sharing and unity. This world is a wounded planet. It urgently needs three measures to heal and save this planet.
Trinitarian traits that are urgently needed for the the world.
- Justice : Based on the Biblical discourses on Justice Pope Francis has constantly urged that the humanity which is fragmented by poverty and ecological disasters need to forge a unity through economic and ecological justice, especially for the poor countries. The recent events in US points out racial Justice is an urgent need. COVID proved that a virus can bring to knees the mighty empire when unity is absent among the countries.
- An Economy at the service of humanity : Universal prosperity is a possible destiny for the human race. This can be achieved through a recasting of economy that is at the service of all human race, not an economy that enslaves the poor and the vulnerable.
- A return to the Spiritual Traditions : The tyranny of relativism, as indicated by Pope Benedict has wrought havoc to human civilization. This has resulted in commodification of the sacred dignity of human beings. Human dignity is the heart of Trinitarian concept of humanity. When humanity was diluted, God sent his only son to save it. Drinking from the spiritual resources will make the world a community of universal brotherhood.
The major obstacles to a Trinitarian World
- A world anguished by ceaseless wars and displacement : Nearly 65 million people on this earth are refugees or displaced in this God created world. Wars and War machines have nullified the great salvific work of the Trinity.
- A world that created a huge percentage of disinherited Majority: The world today is owned by ten corporations and less than 400 individuals making the majority of people to intergenerational poverty and suffering.
- Division of humanity in the name of religions and Race: Religions are a double edged sword. They are for enhancing humanity to higher plain of mutual love and seeing God in each other. Humanity is broken into pieces still based on racial and other discrimination.
To most of the western countries, especially America, the feast of Trinity is comes at a painful times. Can these rich and powerful countries regain their cultures through the Trinitarian traits of equality, sharing and non discrimination? The killing of the African American man Floyd has once again exposed inhumanity of racism. President Bush observes that “America’s greatest challenge has long been to unite people of very different backgrounds into a single nation of justice and opportunity.” The answer is “living up to American ideals—to the fundamental truth that all human beings are created equal and endowed by God with certain rights.”
Yes, the world stands in need of Trinitarian solutions. If God can live in community and harmony, human beings can also do likewise. Happy feast. In the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit – Amen.[Text of Message was given by Cardinal Bo to ZENIT’s Deborah Lubov ]