Last Sunday we welcomed the coming of the Holy Spirit as we celebrated the great feast of Pentecost. A question that may come to our minds is, “Who is this Holy Spirit, and where does he come from?” We know the answer: the Holy Spirit is God, and he comes from God. He is the divine Gift of the Father and the Son. This leads naturally to today’s extraordinary celebration: the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. This beautiful feast celebrates not what God has said or done, but who he is. We ponder who God is in himself; he is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is the most central, most fundamental truth of our faith. It is one of the very first things we learn when we learn about Christianity. For example, we begin every prayer with the Sign of the Cross, professing that we pray in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Faith in the Trinity is the foundation of everything else in our religion. Without some basic understanding of the Trinity, we would have no idea who the Holy Spirit is, for he is the Spirit of the Father and the Son. We would not know who Jesus really is, for he is the eternally begotten Son of the Father. We would not know what Heaven is, for Heaven is where we will share in the life of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in one joyful communion of love. Faith in the Trinity also enables us to understand more fully what our life here on earth is about. We are called to love as God loves, because God is love. Love is at the very core of everything that exists.
For this reason, we can say that today’s feast addresses the deepest longing of our hearts. What we long for is to see God as he really is. We long to love and be loved forever. However, we may also have some uneasiness in celebrating this important feast, because we realize that cannot fully understand the mystery that we are celebrating. How can God be one and at the same time three Persons?
It is certainly true we cannot fully grasp the mystery, but that is not because there is something wrong with the mystery. Nor is it because it has not been properly understood by the Church. It is because we are limited – which is a very good thing to remember. There are many things we simply do not fully understand. One of them is God himself. If we could understand him, we would not worship him as God, nor would we submit ourselves to him. God is infinitely bigger, higher, stronger, and more knowledgeable than we are. He surpasses us in every way. Still, to know the truth about God, like any truth, is very liberating, because the truth will set us free (cf. Jn 8:32).
The truth is that God is not three different “things” all mixed up together in one package. God is one. The Father is God; the Son is God; the Holy Spirit is God. Each is distinct and yet they are not three gods; there is one divine being. As the Catechism teaches us: “Christians are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: not in their names, for there is only one God, the almighty Father, his only Son, and the Holy Spirit: the Most Holy Trinity” (CCC 233). Therefore, when Jesus charges us in today’s Gospel to go and make disciples of all nations, he tells us to baptize them “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
In the first reading, Moses speaks of how great it is that we have a God who has revealed himself to us. “Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live? Or did any god venture to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, with strong hand and outstretched arm, and by great terrors, all of which the LORD, your God, did for you in Egypt before your very eyes? This is why you must now know, and fix in your heart, that the LORD is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other.” With even greater awe and gratitude, we proclaim that we have been given more than Moses was given. Moses knew that God was the great I AM, but Jesus reveals that this I AM is the Holy Trinity.
God is a communion of Persons in relationships so perfect that they form a perfect unity. Therefore, as we reflect on relationships – our relationship with God and with others – we can gain precious insight into God himself. Human relationships are reflections of God in the world: every family is an image of God; every marriage is an image of God. Every time people gather in unity and love, they reflect the Trinity. As St. John says, “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is perfected in us” (1Jn 4:12).
To be loved by God is to be sent by him to share that love with others. Jesus sends us out to make disciples of all nations, to gather all people in one communion of love. That is our permanent mission. The feast of the Most Blessed Trinity, then, is much more than simply a celebration of a doctrine. It is a celebration of God’s revelation of himself to us so that we can have a relationship of love with him. The feast not only reveals who God is; it reveals who we are. We are children of the Father; we are one Body with Jesus Christ his Son; we are temples of the Holy Spirit. We have been drawn into this communion of love with the Triune God and we are called to share this love with the whole world.
Am I aware that knowledge of the truth of God will liberate me? Do I find it difficult to ponder on the great mystery of the Holy Trinity? Can I humbly accept my human limitations in not understanding fully this mystery of the Trinity?
Excerpt from The Anawim Way, Volume 17, no. 5. More information about The Anawim Way may be found here.