Today we celebrate the wonderful revelation of the Most Holy Trinity. Not everyone, however, accepts that it is wonderful. There are many people, including some groups who profess to be Christian, like the Jehovah Witnesses and the Mormons, who do not believe in the Holy Trinity. There are also some Christians, including some Catholics, who profess faith in the Trinity, but think that the doctrine is too abstract to be of any use, and that it is unrelated to life. Others blithely dismiss the mystery of the Trinity as a nightmare for preachers and a teaching that is not worth any effort to understand.
However, the Scripture readings of today’s Liturgy show that a great deal can be known and said about the Holy Trinity based on what God has revealed to us about himself. There is nothing more real, more concrete, and more related to life than the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, which is the very mystery of God who is Love (cf. 1 Jn 4:16). God is a perfect and eternal communion of life and love. He reveals himself as such and has created us in his image to be in communion with him and with one another in life and love.
God reveals himself to Moses on Mount Sinai, as we read today from the Book of Exodus, to make a covenant of love with his people and to draw them into a communion of life with him. The transcendent God declares to Moses who he is. He is not merely an impersonal and severe divine lawgiver. Rather, he is “The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.”
Jesus speaks about this “merciful and gracious God” in today’s Gospel: “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.” It is in and through Jesus Christ, who is both God and the Son of God, that the identity of God as a communion of love is most perfectly expressed. This truth is at the heart of the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity.
The mystery of God who is Love is powerfully revealed through the Death and Resurrection of Christ, a revelation that culminated in the sending of the Holy Spirit, which we celebrated last Sunday. God loves the world so much that he sent his Son who died on the Cross for us. Both the Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit who unceasingly reveals to us the truth of God’s love and draws us into communion with him, that is, with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
How can we speak about the mystery of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit? It sounds as if we are talking about three Gods! No, there is only one God, with one Name. When Jesus sends forth the Apostles, he says: “baptize them in the name” – not the names – “of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:20; cf. CCC 233). It was the theologian Tertullian who, early in the third century, coined a Latin word to try to express the mystery of God: Trinitas, from which we have the English word, Trinity. The one God exists as a united community of three divine Persons. Unlike human persons, who are each separate beings in whom each has a unique will, the Persons of the Trinity have one divine nature and one divine will.
The Most Holy Trinity is, therefore, not a puzzle given to us to grapple with, but rather a mystery of God’s ineffable love. He reveals himself as a loving Father by sending his Son, who is also God, as our Redeemer and Savior; and the Father and the Son send forth the Holy Spirit as our Sanctifier. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the ‘hierarchy of the truths of faith.’ The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, reveals himself to men ‘and reconciles and unites with himself those who turn away from sin’” (CCC 234).
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity reminds us that God desires to unite with himself “those who turn away from sin.” To be able to be united with God and to enjoy the glory and joy of the Trinity for all eternity, we need to humble ourselves before him in worship. This is what Moses does in today’s first reading: “Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship.” We also need to heed the instruction of St. Paul in today’s second reading: “Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.” This path of repentance, love for God, and love for one another is the way we are called to express our faith, which is the condition of sharing eternal life in a perfect communion of love and peace with the Holy Trinity and the saints.
How is God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity to me? Experiencing the power of the Trinity in my life, how can I best interact with others and respect their freedom? When have I felt that God truly loved me and can now proclaim that he loves me every moment of my life?
Excerpt from The Anawim Way, Volume 19, no. 5. More information about The Anawim Way may be found here.