Deuteronomy 4:32-34.39-40, Romans 8:14-17, Mathewn28:16-20
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REV. FR. DANIEL EVBOTOKHAI
THE TRINITY AND YOU
What kind of God do we believe in? The first reading tells us that the God of the Christian faith is different from the gods of the pagans and those worshipped by other religions. Therefore, we must not worship God as people of other religions do. We should not worship in the morning and offer sacrifices of goat and fowl in the evening. So, the first reading makes us to understand that the God of the Christian faith is the God in heaven and on earth beneath; there is no other. This God has revealed his inner life by his works to the people of Israel. He revealed himself as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This tripartite understanding is the origin of the word Trinity.
Trinity expresses the doctrine of the unity of God as subsisting in three distinct Persons. The Catholic Church teaches that God is one God, but three coeternal, consubstantial persons or hypostases. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as “one God in three Divine Persons”. The readings today basically express this Trinitarian nature of God. While the first reading identifies the distinguished nature of God, the second reading sharply reflects God as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Gospel tells us that our faith and worship must equally be Trinitarian. Jesus addressed the disciples saying; “Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” In the name of the Trinity we are baptized. Thus we have: The mandate of evangelization and the invitation to experience and encounter God in his complete nature.
The Bible has so much to say about the Trinity, but we shall take few references. The Old Testament gives a glimpse into the Trinity in Gen.1:26, God said, let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves. “Us and Ourselves” these words reveal to us the nature of God. In the New Testament we have a clearer triadic understanding of God. Today’s gospel, Matthew 28:19 says “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Take note, the word “name” as used is singular not plural. Luke 1:35 says “And the angel answered and said to her, the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and the Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. For more, read (John 14:27, Acts 7:55, Acts 10:38 and 2Cor. 13:13). These are Scriptural illustrations that God is Triune in nature.
The Church has equally manifested this nature of God in her liturgical celebrations. From the beginning of the mass (sign of the cross), the conclusion of the collect, the Eucharistic prayer through to the conclusion of the mass are all centered on the Trinity. Therefore, one can say that every mass is a celebration of the Trinity. Trinity Sunday is just set aside to celebrate this great gift and mystery. The readings of today did not only reveal the Triune God it further reveals the cooperative nature of the Trinity. The Trinity works flawlessly with one another. There is no jealousy or competition amongst them. Therefore, we who are created in the image and likeness God must also live like God. On this note, I shall draw out two basic lessons from today’s celebration.
- THE TRINITY IS A COMMUNITY OF PERSONS. Beloved in Christ, the Trinity is the model for our lives. We are created in the “image of God”– in the image of the Trinity. The Trinity is a community of persons. There are no isolated, self-sufficient, rugged individuals. The Trinity is three equal divine persons and distinct in function. Each divine Person needs the other two divine Persons to be God. In like manner, our souls strive for union; we have innate need for companionship, and love. This gives direct testimony to the Trinity. God is relationship and He created us so. Precisely because of this it is so hard to live in isolation. It is good to love yourself but that love is fruitful only in relation to the other. The Trinity is a community let us live in relationship and in connection to the other.
- THE TRINITY IS ACOMMUNITY OF LOVE. The essence of the Trinity is a personal relationship of love between the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Love should also be characteristic of the Christian community. Jesus says in John 13:35, by this (love) all men will know that you are my disciples. We all have need to love and to be loved. Love is creative, fulfilling and healing. It heals both the one who gives it and the one who receives it. No doubt, many of us Christians find it difficult to live in love. There is high rate of jealousy, envy and hatred amongst Christian brothers. We are into unhealthy competitions and trying to outdo one another in power and wealth. The Trinity is a model of shared power, shared function and shared loved. We should learn to live in harmony with one another in spite of our individual differences. There is tension in Christianity now. Christians delight in attacking themselves; fight over positions and material things. Today we must learn from the Three divine persons how to love and respect one another. This also means, complimenting and appreciating the efforts of one another; we all belong to the same family or community of God. In the Trinity, we shall live well as a community. In the Trinity, all families (humanity) shall find serenity.
Fr. Paul K. Oredipe
THE MYSTERY OF WHO GOD IS
Just before beginning the Mass
We have come unto the Father
We have come unto the Son
We have come to the Spirit
We have come to receive/renew strength.
Have you come unto . . .
Have I come unto . . .
Have we come . . .
We have come again; We have come again
Father, we have come again
Jesus we have come again
Holy Ghost we have come again
My Lord we have come again.
Take glory Father
Take glory Son
Take glory Holy Ghost
Now and ever more.
God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, come down (… thank you)
Today is indeed a day to celebrate and rejoice. To celebrate and rejoice in the fact that God has chosen to freely and fully reveal Himself to us human beings. He has completely disclosed Himself to us as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is the mystery we celebrate today – the Solemnity of the MOST HOLY TRINITY. Let us rejoice in this wonderful gift of God as we gather around the table of the Lord to offer our praises and petitions. For our prayers to be acceptable, we purify ourselves of all that is unworthy of God in our lives, as we call to mind our sins and ask for the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father and sweet fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Our life as human beings is about relationships. Human life is about community. Living in splendid isolation from others is a violation of basic human nature.
Quite interestingly, this fact about our life as human beings is also very true of God.
What we celebrate today – MOST HOLY TRINITY – is a loud affirmation of this fact that God dwells in relationship.
No one has ever seen God. No doubt about that. The little that we know, the much that we believe about God is what has been freely and fully revealed to us in various ways and at various times.
If you want a summary of what God has revealed about Himself in human history, it is the theme of our celebration today: that there is ONE GOD in whom dwells THREE PERSONS, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, all bonded together by love.
The central Christian mystery. “The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself.” (CCC 234)
This is a great mystery at the very heart and centre of our religion – Christianity. Some religions believe in many gods, others believe in a God who is far removed from this world and from his creatures. We hear of ‘Deus absconditus’ and ‘Deus remotus’. (Yr. B: 1st Reading – Benevolent God who is close and who takes interest in his people. 2nd Reading – We are children of God.) It is only in the Christian religion that we find the revelation of a God who dwells in relationship.
In fact, faith in the Trinity constitutes such a formidable bedrock for the Christian religion that it is impossible to be a Christian unless one accepts the Trinity with an implicit, unflinching faith. For most of us, if not all of us, the very first thing our parents taught us about our religion was most probably the sign of the cross: ‘In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’. When we admit someone into the Christian fold, we baptize him or her in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. These words, made with the sign of the cross, lie at the heart of our Catholic liturgical prayer.
We begin our prayers in the name of the Trinity and at the end of our prayers, we are accustomed also to address our petitions to the Father, through His Son, Jesus Christ, in union with the Holy Spirit. The last thing a priest will do at our graveside is to make the sign of the cross over our body. The life of a Christian is marked “in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
On this celebration of the Most Holy Trinity, we therefore come face to face with the inner mystery of God as a family of three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, where there is complete harmony, love and total peace. No human language or critical logic (traditional or symbolic) can unravel or resolve this great mystery that we celebrate today.
In the Trinity we are given a glance into what God shares with us – life in relationship, in community. God is not an isolated being out there on his own without any contact, connection or communion with us and the world. God is not a self-enclosed reality. His nature is to be communicated and related. He lives in community. He is God-with-us, the God who stands at our side every day, to the end of time.
The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father. Their mutual love of each other is not a sterile love. It is productive, for out of it comes (or ‘proceeds’) the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is thus the fruit of the mutual love of the Father and the Son. The Father and the Son then love the Spirit, who in turn loves them both. This love of the three persons for one another is a mighty love; in fact, it is an infinite love, as befits God.
Saint Augustine tells us when we are speaking about God not to marvel because we do not understand, for if we do understand then He would not be God. God is so great above our language and thought. The best and only attitude before the mystery of God is reverence and adoration. To attempt any exploration into the nature of God is nothing but a blind and futile race after the shadow. The much we know of God is what He has generously revealed to us.
The fact of the Trinity have come about as a result of what Christians have learnt and experienced in their following of God. It is the result of the experience of God in their lives. Following God closely, they have come to experience the presence of God in their lives.
Our faith in the Trinity finds its solid basis in the Bible. In many instances in the Old Testament, it is foreshadowed. Time will not permit a complete survey of these instances. Just to mention two citations. In the book of Genesis (chapter 1) we read of the Spirit of God that moved over the face of the void before creation began. And in Proverb 8: 22 -31 we read about Wisdom which not only pre-existed creation but actually collaborated with God in the work of creation as the “master craftsman” and “architect” with God.
However, over and above all these antecedents in the Old Testament, it is Christ who reveals to us in all its fullness the inner workings of the Trinitarian mystery and calls us to participate in it. “No one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Matt. 11: 27) “He who has seen me has seen the Father; the Father and I are one”. It is Christ who speaks to us of the co-existence of the Holy Spirit with the Father, and who sends him to the Church to sanctify it until the end of time.
My dear brothers and sisters, no one can see God face to face and live. After all said and done, the Blessed Trinity remains a mystery that our limited intellects will never unravel or disclose. God is the deepest mystery of our lives and is infinitely more expansive than our tiny minds are capable of imagining. We should never look on the Trinity as a problem to be solved, a puzzle to be worked out or something simply to test our faith. Rather we should seize the opportunities that such a generous revelation of God himself offers to us. We can only believe it with deep faith, reverence and love.
For those who believe, no explanation is necessary; for those who do not believe, no explanation is possible. The doctrine of the Trinity did not originate as a theory or system of thought, but as a blessing. It did not even come as a result of controversies and heresies about the doctrine or its formulation. It came out of the disciples’ threefold experience of God in life and worship.
It is remarkable that while the controversies raged among philosophers and theologians, the ordinary Christian faithful remained unshaken in their belief in the divine Trinity and this has remained unshaken till this very day. Hence we have this celebration today.
Therefore, it has some valuable lessons for all of us.
1. – God has freely and fully revealed Himself to us. We should rejoice and celebrate this fact. We are also invited to proclaim to the world around us this wonderful news of God. The Gospel passage remind us of the great command and commission to all of us as Christians: “to go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
2. – God lives in relationship and community. So also must we be in our journey through life. We cannot and should not go it all alone. Jesus intended His Church to be a community, just like the Trinity, based on love and sustained in unity. A community where there is respect for the uniqueness of each, just as in the Trinity.
In the Trinity, the three persons maintain and retain their identities. The Father does not become the Son, nor the Son takes the place of the Holy Spirit. We are enveloped (enfolded) in the love of three persons and challenged to bring that love to our community, within the Church of Christ in every place, be it parish, diocese, even the seminary, religious houses or congregation.
The doctrine of the Most Holy Trinity is not an idea to be left behind in Church at the end of Mass, but a way of life now and for ever. Again, as the Catechism puts it “But even now we are called to be a dwelling for the Most Holy Trinity: ‘If a man loves me, says the Lord, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.’” (Para 260; John 14.23)
3. – The community of God is unitive, productive, generative. How are we fruitful in our lives? By our baptism we too are grafted into the Trinity. We become sharers of Trinitarian communion and love. This is a great privilege and dignity of being a Christian.
With the Father who is the creator, we are also co-creator of the world. How do we co-operate with God to improve the quality of the earth; to respect and honour life, not to destroy or abuse it.
With Christ the redeemer, we are also co-redeemer of our fellow men and women. Are we instruments of salvation in our lives, saying the truth and living good lives.
With the Holy Spirit who is the comforter we are co-comforter to lead, guide and comfort those in ignorance, doubt, sorrow and temptation. We realize and experience the mystery of the Trinity when we are all genuinely united into a community of love and service.
4. – We are children of God who cares for us. In Jesus Christ, we have a brother and friend who died and rose for us. In the Holy Spirit we possess also a friend, a companion and comforter who strengthens and protects us when we are in danger. If we have to remain in this position that we have in the Trinity, we cannot but just live a life that is worthy of this greatness.
The Trinity invites us to obedience, and obedience leads us back to the Trinity. To preserve the unity and community of this honour at home, in our working places, in the school and all areas of our life. If our behaviour is to mirror the life of the Trinity, then the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the sweet fellowship of the Holy Spirit should govern our every thought, word and action, now and forever.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Prayer of the Faithful:
God the Father hear our prayer
Hear us God the Son
Holy Spirit hear our prayer
Mercy on your people Lord.
Rev. Fr. Stephen Udechukwu
Trinitarian relationship: a model for every relationship
Having celebrated the mysteries of salvation from Christ’s birth to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the mother Church invites us today to reflect on yet another great mystery: the Blessed Trinity. The revelation of the Blessed Trinity is one of the greatest proofs of God’s love to us because we do not reveal ourselves to those we do not love. The Jews of Jesus’ days strongly believed and emphasized the unity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. However, the doctrine of the Trinity being difficult to understand was a serious debate among the early Church. It was Tertullian who first made use of the term “Trinity” but it was noticed that his formulation of the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity was faulty because his formulation made God the Son subordinate/inferior to the Father. Meanwhile Origen made the same mistake when he said that God the Son is subordinate to the Father and the Holy Spirit is subordinate to the Son. This confusion continued until fourth century when the Church began to formulate its doctrine of the Blessed Trinity.
Hence in 325 the council of Nicaea made a declaration that the Son is co-essential with the Father i.e. the Father and the Son are the same while in 381 the council of Constantinople officially professed and declared that the Son is generated by the Father and that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son hence the profession we make at every mass (I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son…).
Meanwhile even before the use of the term Trinity by Tertullian, the doctrine of the Trinity was already revealed in the Scriptures especially the Old Testament. There are many passages of the Scripture where God speaks of himself in plural. In Genesis1:26 God said “let us make man in our own image and likeness” and in Genesis 11:7 at the tower of Babel God said “come let us go down and confuse their language so that they will no longer understand each other”. The New Testament is not left out. In fact the New Testament has a more precise and direct doctrine and revelation of the Trinity. At the Baptism of Jesus in Mathew 3:16-17 the Father speaks from heaven and the Holy Spirit descends in the form of a dove while in our gospel reading from Mathew 28:16 during the commissioning the three persons were mentioned hence Jesus says “…baptizing them in the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. St. Paul also made clear the doctrine of the Trinity in many of his writings like 1Cor. 12:4-6 and 2Cor.13-14.
Therefore today we celebrate three persons but one God who live in unity. Yes it may be difficult to understand and unravel how three persons can be one but St. Augustine tells us not to marvel because we do not understand, for if we did understand then HE would not be God. Hence he tells a story of how he wanted to understand the mysteries of God. Augustine one day was sitting by the sea, thinking and trying to unravel the mystery of the Trinity, how the same God is Father, Son and the Holy Spirit at the same time. In the process a little boy came by and dug a hole in the sand and began to pour the sea into the hole. Augustine surprised by the little boy’s action asked “boy what are you trying to do?” the boy replied “I am trying to empty this sea into the hole” Then Augustine said “but you know that is not possible and can never be because the sea is too great and the hole is very little.” The boy turning to Augustine said “so also for you, you cannot understand the mysteries of God for God is too great and your head is too small”.
Thus, rather than bother too much about the mystery of the Trinity we should rather make them the models of our lives. By contemplating the Trinity we can learn a lot about ourselves and about the way we should live. The Trinity is a community of persons. There are no isolated, self-sufficient, rugged individuals. There are three equal Persons living together in community. Each Person needs the other two Persons to be God. We need each other to be truly human. We are social beings. We are mutually interdependent. This is evident in the beginning of life and at the end of life. The newborn child if left to himself dies and the very old person if left to himself dies.
Also this community of persons is a community of love. The essence of the Trinity is a personal relationship of love between the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is a fruitful love. And that is why the Holy Spirit is the fruit of the mutual love that exist between the Father and the Son. Thus the Father and the Son loves the Holy Spirit. Love should also be characteristic of every Christian community. We are and should be rooted and grounded in love. Jesus tells us in John 13:34 to love one another as he has loved us. We all have a need to love and be loved. Love is creative, fulfilling and healing. It heals both the one who gives it and the one who receives it.
Finally we find in the Trinity not uniformity but unity in diversity. Each Person of the Blessed Trinity is unique and all share in the divine nature in perfect unity. We must come to realize that each one of us is unique and so accept each other the way each person is. We quarrel and fight most times because we fail to understand that we are unique and cannot act the same way. The Trinity teaches us to accept each person just the way they are.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be world without end. Amen.
HAPPY SUNDAY AND GOD BLESS YOU.