This Gospel from John, Chapter 3, is at the heart of a conversation taking place in the night time between Jesus and the well-known Pharisee, Nicodemus. Nicodemus appears to Jesus in the night rather than during the day because he most likely does not want to be seen by other Pharisees conversing with the Lord, and be accused of being one of his disciples. He needs to find out more about Christ before he, as a Pharisee, can be seen in the daylight with this guy who is beginning to shake up the hearts of people who hear him.
The night time seeking out of Jesus by Nicodemus is both good and not so good. It’s good because it’s a first step toward the possibility of becoming his disciple. It’s fair to assume that long ago we took that night time step into Christian discipleship, and have moved into the daylight for others to see. Where there are no attempts to hide the truth in our lives that Jesus is Lord, and that we are on his payroll 24 hours a day. Where there is no cooperation with the modern powers of political correctness that attempt to shut down our faith and religion in certain places and at certain times after Sunday has come and gone.
The not so good of Nicodemus visiting Jesus at night time rather than in the daylight involves lack of courage and belief in Christ. Where Jesus is seen only as a curiosity, a sideshow, and a nice guy, and not as Savior and Redeemer. Nicodemus can be cut some slack on this if he takes this night encounter and carries it forward into the daylight for all his family and friends to see. That would be a natural progression of belief. It would lead to belief in the Son of God, spreading such belief to others, and performing righteous works that reflect his belief.
If Nicodemus does not take that step into the daylight of Christ, but remains simply a curious onlooker regarding this man from Nazareth, then he will miss the most crucial step of his life. He will misstep on his belief in Jesus as Savior, as many have done today.
Trinity Sunday is not about trying to explain the formula of God’s essence and being. Any priest or deacon who tries to explain what the Trinity is in their homilies today, and do so in theological terms, I feel awful for those who have to listen and try to follow what’s being said.
The celebration of the Blessed Trinity is much more about experiencing God rather than explaining God. Experiencing the presence of God in our lives begins and ends with belief. Belief that God is Father, who is slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity. Belief that God is Son, who is the pure sacrificial lamb who suffered and died for our sins so that we may have life. And belief that God is Spirit, who fills us with knowledge and love while sustaining every moment of existence. Belief in the step that brings us into the daylight of encountering the Lord.
Belief, we know, can be a funny sort of animal. We can have much of it one day, and less of it another day. Belief in God is effected by our life experiences. Someone going through a divorce may have a difficult time believing that God is really with them. Someone dealing with a life-threatening illness can have a much harder time believing that Christ is really carrying their cross with them. Someone who wins the Powerball might believe that God is present to them in a special way, until they find out how many friends they really have. Someone who experiences healing, certainly will believe that God is near.
Belief can be inconsistent, depending on the circumstances. But belief will always remain the step that leads us to the daylight encounter with Christ, the step that Nicodemus may or may have not taken. We pray he did.
May we take a few moments in this celebration of the Blessed Trinity and reflect on how God so loved the world. The belief that he gave his only Son for our benefit, so that those who believe in him, believing that his life was a ransom for ours, might not perish, but might know the joys of heaven. This belief is never removed from our daily lives and events, nor from the highs and lows of living each day.
And may God grant us the courage to take the step into the daylight of belief each day. By doing so, we will experience the Blessed Trinity and the closeness that follows.