The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, May 30
We Are Each Invited to Share Intimately in the Relationship Which Exists Between Each of the Divine Persons, a Communion of Divine and Eternal Love – a Love Which Calls Each of Us into the Very Presence of God Himself.
Today, on this first Sunday after Pentecost, the universal Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity – a mystery of faith inaccessible by human reason, a mystery which Jesus Himself revealed to us, inviting us into a more intimate union with our God.
Many years ago, I remember reading a story about a Jesuit priest who was asked to teach catechesis to a group of children in a parish. He was describing his experience in explaining the Blessed Trinity to the children. He started by trying to figure out how much the children knew about the basics. So he would start by asking, “When we make the Sign of the Cross, what do we say?” Many of the children responded, “The Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
So far so good! He tried “raising the bar” a bit. “What do we call the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit?” There was complete silence. So this good priest tried another approach. “What do you think of when you make the Sign of the Cross?” There was an awkward silence and then a bright little boy cheerfully said, “The old man, Jesus and the bird!”
No one can blame these children for their lack of understanding regarding the Trinity. They were responding the only way they knew how. The faithful who are older and wiser have similar images of the Trinitarian Nature of God, as gleaned from paintings and holy pictures. And what is it that we see? We see God the Father as an old man; we see Jesus sitting next to Him on His right, and the Holy Spirit flying above portrayed as a dove.
The mystery of the Trinity means that, in whatever way we portray God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, it will always remain inadequate and incomplete. All the images and words we use for the Trinity are more a reflection of our faith than a full understanding about the very Nature of God Himself.
God is always more than any name we may use or any concept we may have. The special insight into God we celebrate today is that relationships are at the very center of who God is – a relationship of Love between each of the Divine Persons and a relationship of Divine Love from each of the Divine Persons for each one of us. And yet, it is still only one God who loves us!
It took the early Christians nearly five centuries to fully grasp what Jesus meant when He spoke of His relationship to the Father and the Spirit. They struggled to understand how and why God would have three faces and yet exist as One Being – love as One, act as One. They settled the “how” of the Trinity’s Nature by teaching us that each of the Persons of the Trinity are co-equal, consubstantial (of one substance and indivisible) and co-eternal.
They settled the “why” of the Trinity by reflecting that their experience of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit was an encounter of Divine Love. They knew that the core of God was not an idea or a principle, but was a Loving Relationship! Furthermore, the early Christians came to understand that they were invited into this relationship of Love and to have a share in this Love.
What was true for them is true for us today. Think about this for a minute – we believe that the God who creates, redeems and sustains the world seeks us out and invites us into a loving relationship with Himself. This is what gives us hope and urges us to share this message with everyone we meet. What a privilege! What an invitation! What a loving God to care for us so much, that He would invite us into this profound relationship which exists between each of the Divine Persons!
And this very concept is what Moses was trying to imprint on the minds of the Jewish people in our First Reading, “Did anything so great ever happen before? Was it ever heard of? Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live?”
And with all that the Jewish people experienced, they still had no idea as to the real Nature of God. It wasn’t until all the ancient prophesies were fulfilled through the Birth, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ that God revealed the fullness of His Divine Nature to His children!
We have been taught, from our earliest catechesis, that the concept of the Trinity, God in three Divine Persons, is a doctrine of the Church, a Truth which we embrace in faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that “The Trinity is One. We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three Persons, the ‘consubstantial Trinity.’ The Divine Persons do not share the one Divinity among themselves but each of them is God whole and entire.”
And yet, the three “Divine Persons are really distinct from each other.”
In rather simplistic terms, when we think of the Father, we think of God the Creator, who created each one of us, both you and I, out of Divine Love, and who gave us a soul so that we might spend our eternity with Him. When we think of God the Son, we think of the Word made flesh who dwelt amongst us to become our Redeemer, teaching His disciples and each of us all about the profound wonders of God’s indescribable Love and limitless Mercy!
In today’s Gospel, Jesus, before ascending to His Father in Heaven, teaches His disciples that they are to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” And this is perhaps the clearest expression in the New Testament of our Trinitarian belief!
When we think of the Holy Spirit, we think of the Spirit who teaches and sustains us, enlightens and strengthens us, the Spirit who sanctifies us with grace, the Spirit who is the Love of God. Let us, for a moment, imagine ourselves sitting at the Last Supper next to the Apostles when Jesus was describing the Holy Spirit –
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you.”
And Jesus goes on to say, “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name – he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”
One might describe this profound mystery to a child using the image of a lit candle –
(1) The candle itself represents the Eternal Father, who is the very essence and heart of who God is; He is the very Source and Origin from whom the other Divine Persons exist, just as the candle is the very source from which the flame and heat exist.
(2) The flame is the Divine Son, who is the Eternal Light of the world; without the Father, the Son would not exist, just as without the candle, the flame would not exist.
And (3), the heat from the flame is the Holy Spirit, God’s Love who warms the heart and soul; without the candle and without the flame, the warmth itself would not exist.
The candle, the flame and the heat are three distinct and separate elements, yet all are one; just as the Blessed Trinity is three distinct and separate Persons, yet all are One. Granted, this is a very simplistic explanation, but one which enables young children to begin to place their hands around this very profound mystery of God’s Trinitarian Nature.
The Most Holy and Blessed Trinity is the central mystery of our Christian faith and our Christian life. God alone can make this known to us by revealing himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And our Church sets aside one day a year, the Sunday after Pentecost, to give acknowledgement and the highest form of celebration and praise to this Most Profound of all mysteries.
If we can take anything away with us today from this celebration of faith in a mystery which can never be adequately explained on this side of the eternal, let us take the understanding that the Trinity is a relationship of Love – a communion of Love, and that we are invited to be an intimate part of this Love relationship, an invitation which extends Itself to each one of us for all eternity.
And it is through this relationship that we are invited into an intimate communion with God Himself, as Paul tells us today, “…you received a Spirit of adoption, through whom we cry, ‘Abba, Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…”
May both you and I, with an open heart to receive the Spirit of Truth and Love in fulfillment of God’s promises to each of us, look upon God and claim Him as our own – a loving and caring Father, who only desires to give us the best, and our Savior as our dearest and closest Friend and Brother, who proved His love for us by freely spreading His arms out wide upon His Cross.
And in the faith which we profess and live daily, may the Holy Spirit help us to open our hearts, so that we may embrace the prayer of today’s psalmist, truly making it our own –
“Our soul waits for the LORD, who is our help and our shield. For in him our hearts rejoice; in his holy name we trust. May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us who have put our hope in you.”
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “Did anything so great ever happen before? Was it ever heard of? Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live?” (Deuteronomy 4:32c-33)
- “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
- “And the angel said to [Mary] in reply, ‘The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.’” (Luke 1:35)
- “After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” (Luke 3:21-22)
- “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” (Matthew 11:27b)
- “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you…The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name – he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” (John 14:16-17, 26)
- “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19)
- “Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom all things are and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are and through whom we exist.” (1 Corinthians 8:6)
- “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a Spirit of adoption, through whom we cry, ‘Abba, Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…” (Romans 8:15-17a)
- “Our soul waits for the LORD, he is our help and our shield. For in him our hearts rejoice; in his holy name we trust. May your mercy, LORD, be upon us; as we put our hope in you.” (Psalm 33:20-22)
Prayer for the Day
“Glory be to the Eternal Father,Anonymous
who by His Almighty Power and Merciful Love
created me to share in His eternal image and likeness.
“Glory be to the Only-Begotten Son,
who by the shedding of His Most Precious Blood
delivered me from slavery to sin,
and opened for me the gates to His Heavenly Kingdom.
“Glory be to the Holy Spirit,
the Spirit of God’s Truth and Love,
who has sanctified me in the Sacrament of Baptism,
and continues to sanctify me by the graces
I receive daily from His most gracious bounty.
“Glory be to the Three Divine Persons
of the Most Holy and Blessed Trinity,
Co-equal, Consubstantial and Co-eternal,
One God, now and forever. Amen.”