The Most Holy Trinity, Year C
May 26, 2013
Today we honor the Trinity, a nice simple topic to talk about right?
All I need to do today is explain the Trinity right?
No, it isn’t. Three persons yet one God. What does that really mean? Some people try to explain it with a three-leaf clover. Somebody tried sharing an explanation with me once that used the idea of ice, water, and stream. Having minored in Chemistry in college, my response to that explanation was it was wrong.
In a previous parish, I prepared what I thought was a great homily on the Trinity. After Mass a person told me it was the best explanation of the Trinity they had ever heard. Then the person began to repeat what they thought I said. It was a heresy condemned in the 3rd Century (which was not what I said), point being it’s hard to explain the Trinity.
The Trinity is literally a mystery. We can’t understand it completely. Does that mean we don’t try to understand it at all? No, we are to work to deepen our understanding of the Trinity and what it means for us. But in the end, we need to accept what we cannot understand.
That’s why we call it faith. Faith means to believe in what cannot be proven. We want answers. We get some answers but we don’t get all the answers we want. We never do!
The Trinity is a central mystery of our faith. That’s why we begin and end our prayers with the Sign of the Cross. The word “trinity” is not found in the Bible. In stories like the Baptism of Jesus, all three persons are present together, Jesus, the voice from the Father, and the Holy Spirit coming down upon Jesus as a dove.
Likewise, our Creed clearly includes all the three persons of the Trinity but it does not use the word “trinity.” What the Creed does say about the Trinity is the relationship involved. Jesus is the only begotten Son, God from God, light from light. The Holy Spirit is the giver of life who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
The three are always working as a team. They do not do a solo act. We want to separate them into three but you can’t understand the Father without the Son and the Holy Spirit comes not of self but as sent by the Father and Son. What Jesus began in accord with the Father’s Will, the Holy Spirit brings to completion.
It has been this way for eternity. The Holy Spirit was not “created” by the Father or the Son after the Resurrection. Jesus’ existence did not begin with his conception in Mary’s womb.
All three have existed for all eternity as one.
We want to split them apart. We think of the Father as the image of God as portrayed in the Old Testament, being before Jesus, but Jesus was always “in the plan” heard in the prophecies about the coming messiah but even as far back as Genesis when God speaks of the one who will strike at the serpent’s head.
The Holy Spirit is not spoken of as much until the New Testament but there are references in the Old Testament.
It’s always been three working together as one. They are a team.
We see it as different phases. We often see it as the Father is the image of God in the Old Testament (but is never called Father in the Old Testament) who lays down the rules.
Jesus then comes to help us understand what the rules are really about.
Lastly, the Holy Spirit comes to help us apply all that the Father and the Son has revealed to our lives.
But we can’t think of it as three different people, each having their own approach. As children, we can learn what we ask our parents about. We know to ask Dad for certain things because Mom will say no and vice versa.
It’s not that way with God. God is three persons but one God, all working together in unison.
What we see is a God is all-knowing and so understands that we can’t handle it all at once. God gives us knowledge about our faith in steps. First, come the rules, and then understanding, and then living it. Isn’t it the same way that we learn everything?
God gives it to us in ways we can understand. We don’t get all the answers but God always walks with us. We know God’s love because of what we see Jesus do for us on the Cross. We feel God’s presence because the Holy Spirit dwells within us.
For all that we don’t know, God gives us faith.
Three persons yet one awesome God.