Bishop Glen John Provost
Bishop of Lake Charles
Homily for the Feast of the Holy Trinity
Sunday, June 3, 2007
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
"I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now." John 16:12
The language scholars tell us that poetry had its beginnings in the effort of man to remember. In the ages before written books and mass media, when most could not read or write, the spoken word had to be committed to memory and passed down from one generation to the next. Thus, the great stories, like the Iliad and the Odyssey, the great ode to King David, the Song of Solomon, were fashioned in a style that made them easy to remember, to be recounted and sung for generations.
Then, we come to Jesus. Jesus never wrote a thing that we know of. He preached. He taught. He even sang songs, as we are told, at the Last Supper. Would not the disciples hang on every word? Particularly after His Resurrection and Ascension, would not the disciples make every effort to recall what He said? Thus, the Sacred Scriptures took shape. But who was to ensure this process? They recalled Jesus¹ words on that topic as well.
"I have much more to tell you," Jesus had told them, "but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth" (John 16:12). There was much more that Jesus could have said but did not. There was much more that He wanted to say but could not. And to what do we attribute this reticence? Why this silence? The disciples could "not bear it now" (John 16:12). The truth is too large for even poetry. There are some things that just cannot be grasped until we are ready. The disciples were babes who first must be fed with milk. First Peter writes, "Be as eager for milk as newborn babies‹pure milk of the spirit to make you grow unto salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good" (I Peter 2:2-3).
The Holy Spirit is the great communicator. He guides "you to all truth" (John 16:13). "He will speak what he hears" (John 16:13). He "will declare to you the things that are coming" (John 16:13). He will "speak", "declare", and "glorify." His presence is assured, and His message is true, because He comes from God and He is God. In other words, what He declares will be as good as God¹s own word because He is God. "Everything that the Father has is mine" (John 16:15).
The Church rejoices in this gift of the Spirit, just as it rejoices in the gift of the Father and the Son. The Trinity has revealed itself. While the message is too large for the world to contain it, the Church reveals it and has the pledge of Jesus Himself that the Spirit remains with it until the end of time to ensure its integrity.
"Perhaps there are things that are too great to happen, and too big to pass through the narrow doors of birth," writes G. K. Chesterton. "For this world is too small for the soul of man," he continues, "and, since the end of Eden, the very sky is not large enough for lovers" ("If Don Juan of Austria Had Married Mary Queen of Scots", G. K. Chesterton). The world is not large enough for the love of God. We, however, are large enough to receive it because we were made for God¹s love.
Have you ever had this experience? Someone you love, a parent, a child, a friend, is leaving on a journey and will be absent for a long time. As they drive away and disappear from view, you say to yourself, "Oh, I wish I had told them how much I loved them. I wish I could have put into words the love I felt." Such a deficiency does not exist with Christ. His message is love, and love is too large to grasp at one sitting, because it is God¹s love, a love from the Trinity. And "the very sky is not large enough for lovers." But the Holy Spirit comes to the Church, to the Body of Christ, and like a babe being fed spiritual milk reveals the love little by little.
"For this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine," says the Lord, "and declare it to you" (John 16:15).