The greatest library in the ancient world was in Alexandria, Egypt, and in the year 391 AD, it burned to the ground. Tradition says that only one book survived. It was a very ordinary book, dull and uninteresting, so it was sold for a few pennies to a poor man who barely knew how to read. Now that book, dull and uninteresting as it seemed, was probably the most valuable book in the world, for inside the back cover were scrawled a few sentences that contained the Secret of the Touchstone - a tiny pebble that could turn anything it touched to pure gold. The inscription declared that this precious pebble was lying somewhere on the shore of the Black Sea, among millions of other pebbles that were exactly like it except in one particular: Whereas all the other pebbles were cold to the touch, this one was warm - as if it were alive.
When the poor man who bought the book read the inscription, he rejoiced at his good luck. He sold everything he had, borrowed what he could, and set out for the Black Sea, where he pitched his tent and began his search for the Touchstone that would make him rich. This is how he went about his quest. He’d pick up a pebble and feel it. If it was cold, he wouldn’t drop it back on the beach, lest he risk picking up the same stone dozens of times again, Instead, after he felt the stone to be cold, he’d throw it into the sea.
Hour after hour, day after day, he continued his orderly routine: lift a pebble, feel it to be cold, throw it into the sea; then lift the next pebble, and so on...endlessly. The days grew into months and then into a year, two years, three years. Still he persisted. Still no Touchstone. Then one evening, he picked up a pebble and it was warm - very warm to the touch! But through sheer force of habit, he raised it above his head, and threw it into the sea, where it was lost forever!
My brothers and sisters, imagine how he must have felt when he “woke up”? To have had the Touchstone in his hand, and then to have tossed it away without thinking! Mindless! Foolish! Yes! And maybe some of us are doing the same thing.
There is in each of us a deep and hungry longing for the One who alone can fill our inner emptiness - transforming the ordinariness of our everyday lives with the precious gift of his enduring love. Restlessly, day after day, we continue our search for that one we call - the Lord of our Lives - the living God, who alone can fill us full. Where indeed is God to be found? Like the Touchstone in our story - more often than not - the Lord of our lives is to be found in the ordinary places of our lives. And how are we to recognize him? Like the Touchstone - he is warm to the touch and has the power to transform whatever he touches into a precious and priceless gift.
It should be easy, but because our search continues day after day, and because the One who alone can fill our hearts is often disguised in the ordinary things, we often come to face to face with him and do not see him; often touch his warmth but are not warmed by it. Not because we don’t wish to see and be touched, but because - in our weariness and routine of life - we are inattentive and hence continue to wander - often looking in the wrong places for the Holy One.
That is why we need to celebrate this Feast that calls us to stop and reflect on a God who continues to enter our lives as creator, redeemer and giver of life. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity, so central to the Christian faith, attempts to give us a “handle” if you will on the profound reality of God himself. It attempts to give us an insight into the spiritual touchstone of our hearts in whom we live and move and have our being.
This time of year, we have our national celebrations that honor our mothers and fathers because we know how important the reality of human relationshipsis in our lives. So too, in our life of faith. Relationships are at the very heart of the inner life of our God. The Doctrine of the Trinity in the Christian faith remains a lifeless mystery when it is no longer rooted in the loving relationship of persons - Father and Son, whose love is so dynamic and real that it brings forth the life-giving and renewing Spirit.
My brothers and sisters - mirrored in every genuine relationship, reflected in every friendship, imaged in every genuine bond of love in our lives - is the face of a God who calls to us - not from some distant heaven, but who dwells with us in the utterly ordinary yet powerfully important relationships that make our lives worth living. In a father’s love for his children, in a wife’s love for her husband, in the devotion and care we have for parents - in these and countless other relationships that make up the fabric of our lives - the Trinity comes alive for us and for that, let us give God thanks and praise.