Grace to you and Happy Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity!
Once Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen was asked to explain the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. He warned the audience that no matter how erudite his explanation may be, it would still not be clear. He went on with the teaching for about two hours.
After the talk, a woman approached him and said, “Now I understand the mystery of the Trinity very well.”
To which he replied, "Then you didn't understand it at all."
My reflection here isn't likely to be a refutation-proof explanation of the mystery of the Trinity. I gladly embrace my limitations in this matter.
We believe this mystery through the gift of faith. God gives this gift, so we can gradually understand what we do not know about divinity. To be sure, there are many things we do not know about ourselves, let alone about nature and the spiritual. It calls for a humble disposition. Have faith first. Couple it with humble openness to the truth. Then we will be surprised by insights beyond us. If you don't' believe, and you want to, pray for the light of faith. It's a gift worth more than gold.
Although the word “Trinity" is not found in Scripture, the concept and idea, that is, the truth that God is three persons in one is biblical. Those who insist that every word must be in the Bible before they accept it as the Word of God, take note. It was an African Catholic theologian, Tertullian (155-230 AD), who coined the word Trinity (from Latin – Trinitas). He used it to designate the revealed truth, which is also in the Bible, that God is triune. The Church solemnly defined the doctrine at the First Council of Nicaea (325 AD) in the refutation of Arian heresy (Arianism). Arianism denied the divinity of Jesus Christ.
Right from the time of the apostles, the early Church was on board regarding this biblical truth. Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, spoke about the Father who sent him (the Son) and about the Holy Spirit whom he was going to send. There are numerous places in the Bible where Jesus talked about his relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit. [For your private readings and meditations, see Genesis 1:26; 3:22; Matthew 3:16-17; 28:19; John 1:1-51; 10:30-36; 14:16-17, 26; I Corinthians 8:6; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 13:14; Ephesians 4:4-6; Colossians 2:9; Philippians 2:5-8; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 John 5:7-8, etc.]
In Christian salvation history, we usually attribute the work of creation to the Father, redemption to the Son, and sanctification to the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, though they are distinct as persons, neither the Father nor the Son nor the Holy Spirit exists or acts in isolation from the other two persons of the one God.
Like Saint Augustine, another African theologian, we may not be able to understand the how of the Trinity fully. Still, I think it is essential to understand part of the why. Why did God reveal to us this mystery regarding the very nature of his Supreme Being? God created us in his image and likeness. The more we understand God, the more we know ourselves.
As believers, a relevant question for us to ask today may be: What does the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity teach us about the God we worship? What does this say about the kind of people we should be? On this, I have two points to share with you here.
1. God does not exist in solitary individualism. God is in a "community" of love and sharing. It is the self-outpouring of God that we cherish as life in Christ and the beauty of all things. Faith is an embrace of this outpouring of Divine Love. Revelation is God breaking forth into creaturely order, so in grace we know and love as we are known and loved. It is in the very nature of God who pours God's self to us.
Thus, a Christian seeking a deepened Godly life (Mt 5:48) shuns the tendency to isolationism. We live not just for ourselves but also for others and ultimately for the Lord. Saint Paul tells us, "None of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone" (Rm 14:7). Glory is in living beyond ourselves. It is in embracing a divine outpouring of love.
2. Agape love, that distinctive sacrificial love which Christians should emulate from our Lord Jesus Christ, requires three—God, thou and me. We believe God made us in his image and likeness. Just as God is God in a Trinitarian relationship, so we can be fully human in relationships. The self needs to be in a relationship with others and a relationship with God. By so doing, our life becomes Trinitarian like that of God.
The doctrine of the Blessed Trinity inspires us to adopt an God-me-and-neighbor principle. Our life becomes a pleasant orbit with God at the core in the warmth of relationships with others. The I-alonism or the me-me syndrome does not assure us of this warmth of love. Neither does it guarantee an enduring joy of being who God has created us to be in love. Living in a relationship of love with God and others is socially healthier than exclusive individualism. It is a wealth far more glorious and valuable than egocentrism, narcissism, tribalism, and racism.
Seeing each other, no matter our race, class, and background as equal in love and dignity is living in the light of the Trinity. In such is the harmony of divine presence among us. It is humanity at its best.
May the Holy Trinity's grace help us overcome self-centeredness and live in the love of God and love of neighbor. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. Readings: Year A: Exodus 34:4B-6, 8-9; 2 Cor 13:11-13; Jn 3:16-18]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.