The Feast of the Most Holy Trinity ~ Christopher Sedlmeyer, Aspirant

 

Liturgical Context:

First Reading: Genesis 1:1-2:4a

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 8:1-9

Second Reading: 2 Cor 13:11-13

Gospel: Matt: 28:16-20

Homily:

Soon after my twins started their catechesis this fall, they learned the Sign of the Cross:

“In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. They were so excited that

they could finally participate in at least one of the many incomprehensible things about the Mass

they attended each week. Slowly, they were beginning to do the things the grownups and older

kids were doing—they were becoming part of the community. Soon after, I got the inevitable

question: “What is the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit?” The only thing sadder than my

struggle to explain the Trinity to an 8-year-old was their attempt to understand what I was

saying. In the end, they let me off easy and chalked it up to something that would become

clearer as they got older. But, as we adults know, it is not quite that easy.

The Trinity. It is the most fundamental dogma of the Catholic faith and yet the most

difficult to understand. We cannot truly follow Christ until we know who He truly is, and we

cannot know who He truly is until we understand the Trinity. For those unfamiliar with the dogma

of the Trinity or who have not been formed in the Christian faith, the Trinity seems like a useless

theological parlor game. Three persons in one God, each distinct but all part of a single Deity:

distinct, equal, inseparable. Why is it necessary to make God so complicated? What difference

does the Trinity make to our salvation and to our faith in Jesus? The answer is, like the Trinity

itself, deceptive simple. God is love, as John 4:7-21 says. God is love. And if God is love, then

 

the Trinity is Love. God is one love expressed in three persons, three kinds of loving

relationships. Our Second Reading from 2 Corinthians 13:13 expresses this so succinctly: “The

grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all

of you”. We will use Paul’s summation of the Trinity to guide us through our reflection on the

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Our reading from Corinthians speaks of the “love of God”. We believe the first “person”

of the Trinity is God the Father. So, let’s start here. Scripture tells us that God created us from

his own spirit. Genesis says, “And the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth: and

breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul” (2:7). So, the Father’s

love is one of giving us life from His own breath, His own essence. Maybe more important for

us living as sinners on this earth, is the fact that God the Father not only created us from His

own essence, but he also created us from His own goodness. Genesis 1:31 tells us that after

God the Father made the universe, He “saw all the things that he had made, and they were very

good.” (Gen 1:31). And to emphasize this creative love and goodness, God the Father gave us

another gift: His son, our Lord Jesus Christ. John 3:16 tells us in that famous passage: “For

God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in Him, may

not perish, but may have life everlasting”. So God the Father gave us another creation, the

Incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh for us; another free gift that had within it not

only God the Father’s creative love but also the very epitome of his creative goodness.

The second “person” of the Trinity is God the Son, Jesus Christ. In His Son Jesus, God

the Father makes His redemptive love, His sacrificial love, manifest in a new way. I want to be

clear here, God the Father has always had a redemptive and sacrificial love for humanity—this

is not a new love. Jesus Christ, who was with the Father since the beginning, does not undo

what His Father created; He only creates a new way for us to make relationship with the same

old love God the Father had for the Israelites throughout the Old Testament. Our reading

 

speaks of the “grace of the Lord Jesus Christ”, part of this grace Jesus imparts to us as a free

gift is his wonderful new commandment. Remember the 10 Commandments in the Old

Testament? These don’t go away, but Jesus sums them up in a new way in John 13:34: “A new

commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also

love one another”. But, one might say, God the Father gave commandments and covenants all

through the Old Testament and the Israelites kept breaking them, how is this new

commandment any different? The answer is that this new commandment did not come down

written on tablets of stone but came down written on the Sacred Heart of Jesus Himself. Jesus

died for us. He willingly surrendered his divine self so that he could be the least of us, the poor,

the scorned, the unfairly accused, the beaten, the tortured, the executed. Jesus, the living gift

of God the Father, freely chooses to give us His own gift, the gift of His death and resurrection.

From this supreme gift, we have the gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which re-creates us

in the original love and goodness of the Father and allows us to preserve the bond of grace and

love we have with God, despite our faults and failures.

 

The third “person” of the Trinity is the Holy Spirit. To understand the Holy Spirit, we can

go back to the passage from our Gospel reading where Jesus says in Matthew 28:20, “and

behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world”. Jesus makes this

promise because He intends to ask the Father to send a comforter, who will stay with humanity

in in all times and in all places. In John 14:16, Jesus says: “And I will ask the Father, and he

shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you forever”. As we have seen, God

the Father gave us life and the Law and His only begotten Son. God the Son gave us His new

commandment of love, his life and resurrection, and the Holy Spirit. But what does the Holy

Spirit give? The Holy Spirit gives us the free gift of grace of belonging, that gift that allow us to

live in the love and goodness of God and serve Him. This is the “communion of the Holy Spirit

that our reading from Corinthians speaks about. Paul says it best in 1 Corinthians 12, 7-13:

 

“Now there are diversities of graces, but the same Spirit… And the manifestation

of the Spirit is given to every man unto profit. To one indeed, by the Spirit, is

given the word of wisdom: and to another, the word of knowledge, according to

the same Spirit;…But all these things one and the same Spirit worketh, dividing

to every one according as he will…For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one

body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free; and in one Spirit we have

all been made to drink.

 

So, the Holy Spirit gives us the grace of serving others and the grace of being served by others.

 

And so the Trinity is Love. A gift of love that keeps giving until the end of time. It is

God’s embarrassment of riches in His desire to love us. It is a love that creates us in goodness,

loved by the Father; redeems us in goodness, loved by the Son, and keeps us in the grace of

belonging to that supreme goodness that is the Church, loved by the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is

one God and one love expressed in three “Persons” that invite us to three different relationships

with love and with each other. And so, as I think about it: I do have an answer for children who

ask what the Trinity is and for those, young at heart, who still care enough to question: The

Trinity is God’s loophole of love—in an irrepressible and unrelenting passion for us, God defies

His own laws of physics to love us three times as much with one heart. And this is the love that

Jesus commands us to impart in our Gospel when he invites us to “Go therefore, teach ye all

nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. (Matt.

28:19).

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