HOLY TRINITY [B]: Dt 4:32-34, 39-40; Rom 8:14-17; Mt 28:16-20
The feast of the Holy Trinity invites us to live in the awareness of the presence of the Triune God within us. “There is one God, who has three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each Person is God, yet there is still only one God” (CCC #234, #253-256). Father, Son and Spirit are not parts of God, but One God. Easier said than understood!
All the official prayers of the Church, including the Holy Mass and the Sacraments, begin with an address to the Holy Trinity. We are baptized, absolved of our sins and anointed in the name of the Blessed Trinity. We bless ourselves with the Sign of the Cross, invoking the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and we conclude our prayers glorifying the Holy Trinity, saying “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.”
The early Christians started talking about a Triune God. This wasn’t to make God more logical and understandable and acceptable to human ways of thinking. In fact, the idea of the Trinity intensified the Mystery and awesomeness of God. They observed that Jesus had a unique relationship with the Father and that the Holy Spirit had a unique relationship with the Father and the Son. Against all sorts of odds, against all human logic, and in the face of mounting opposition, the Church maintained that Jesus Christ is true God, equal with the Father, and that the Holy Spirit is God, equal with the Father and the Son.
Since Yahweh, the God of Israel, was careful to protect His Chosen People from the pagan practice of worshipping several gods, the Old Testament books give only indirect and passing references to the Trinity, and the Jewish rabbis never understood them as references to the Holy Trinity. Genesis 1:26 presents God speaking to Himself: "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness." Genesis 18:2 describes Yahweh visiting Abraham under the appearance of three men, an event that the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates as the “Trinitarian Experience of Abraham.” In Genesis 11:7, before punishing the proud builders of the Tower of Babel, God says, “Come, let Us go down among them and confuse their language. “These passages imply, rather than state, the doctrine of the Trinity.
In the N.T. we get a clearer understanding of the Trinity.
a) The Annunciation (Luke 1: 26-38), describes how God the Father sent angel Gabriel to Mary to announce to her that God the Holy Spirit, would "come upon” her, that “the power the Most High will overshadow” her, that the Son would be made flesh in her womb: “Therefore, the Child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”
b) During the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3: 16-17), the Holy Spirit was shown descending on Jesus in the form of a Dove, while the Voice of God the Father was heard from the clouds, saying, “You are My Beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased” (Luke 4:22).
c) John Chapters 15 & 18 present the detailed teaching of Jesus on the Persons of the Holy Trinity.
d) In the preaching mission given by the risen Lord to the disciples, Jesus commanded them to baptize people “in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19; John 10:30).
St. John of Damascus, a great Eastern theologian of the eighth century, said we should think “of the Father as a root, the Son as a branch, and of the Spirit as a fruit, for the sustenance of these three is one.”
A good illustration of the Trinity comes from world-renowned scientist Dr. Henry Morris. He notes that the entire universe is Trinitarian by design. The universe consists of three things: matter, space, and time. Take away any one of those three and the universe would cease to exist. But each one of those is itself a trinity. Matter = mass + energy + motion. Space = length + height + breadth. Time = past + present + future. Thus the whole universe witnesses to the character of the God who made it (cf. Psalm 19:1).
Richard of St.Victor Said: For God to be truth he has to be one; for God to be love: He has to be two; for God to be Joy he has to be three.
It is a mystery and therefore it cannot be really understood. Therefore it is not necessary to understand it before we can believe it.
One parishioner said, “The Trinitarian God is a lot like our pastor. I don’t see him through the week and I don’t understand him on Sunday.”
Thomas Edison, the inventor, once remarked: "We don't know what water is. We don't know what light is. We don't know what electricity is. We don't know what heat is. We have a lot of hypotheses about these things, but that is all. But we don't let our ignorance about these things deprive us of their use." The truth of that statement is real. Most of us do not know how an electric light works, how a telephone or a TV works, but this does not prevent us from using them. Let us try to apply the same common sense to our Faith in the doctrine of the Trinity.
We are made in God’s image and likeness. Just as God is God only in a Trinitarian relationship, so we can be fully human only as one member of a relationship of three partners. The self needs to be in a horizontal relationship with all other people and in a vertical relationship with God. In that way our life becomes Trinitarian like that of God. “I am a Christian insofar as I live in a relationship of love with God and with other people.”
St. Francis Xavier’s favorite prayer was: “Most Holy Trinity, who live in me, I praise You, I worship You, I adore You and I love You.” Let the Son lead us to the Father through the Spirit, to live with the Triune God forever and ever. Amen.”