June 11, 2017 — The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
The past few weeks have been filled with special celebrations in our Church. Last week was Pentecost Sunday; next week is Corpus Christi; and this week we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. Each is unique in its own way, yet all are closely related as well.
The idea of the Holy Trinity, the reality of it, has always been something that is difficult for us as humans to comprehend and understand. During the Eleventh Synod of Toledo in Spain (675 AD), the Holy Catholic Church declared the following: “We confess and we believe that the holy and indescribable Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one only God in His nature, a single substance, a single nature, a single majesty and power. We acknowledge Trinity in the distinction of persons; we profess Unity because of the nature or substance. The three are one, as a nature, that is, not as person. Nevertheless, these three persons are not to be considered separable, since we believe that no one of them existed or at any time affected anything before the other, after the other, or without the other.”
It may be difficult for us to sort through that, but we receive so many confirmations of the Trinity in Holy Scripture, that it is impossible not to accept it. In fact, it is at the core of our Catholic beliefs. Underlying the Holy Trinity is what kind of a person is this Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Our First Reading from Exodus addresses that. It calls God a “merciful and gracious” God.
The Hebrew word rachuwm is what is translated as “merciful.” This is the first place in the Bible that this word is used. All in all it is used 13 times and it is better translated as “full of compassion.” The word translated as “gracious” also has a fuller meaning — that is, “to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior, to favor, or to bestow.” Of course, the word grace finds its roots here. “Grace” means quite simply “giving to one undeserving.” It represents the free gifts presented to us by a loving God, or a loving Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
In his Second Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul closes with the statement “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.” That may seem a simple and basic closing, but again there is so much in it for us, including the inclusion again of the Trinity as One. This is the one and only time in the entire New Testament where the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are mentioned together in this kind of a blessing. It is indicative that through the Holy Trinity we are completely blessed by all Three, everything that God truly is. As Catholics and Christians we seek and enjoy the grace, the love, and the communion of the Holy Trinity.
The opening of our Gospel Reading from St. John is perhaps the most quoted and used Bible verse of all: “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.” That is John 3:16. How often have we seen someone at an athletic event or elsewhere hold up a sign that says simply “John 3:16?” God gave us an incredible gift, a grace beyond all others. And it is given to “everyone who believes in Him.” We should believe and follow and serve in order to receive the benefit of God’s love.
Believing is much more than being aware of the Trinity or agreeing with it. It means that we trust God and we rely upon Him in His Trinitarian reality. Trusting in God is at the heart of our faith. Trusting in God is at the very core of living lives of stewardship.
Everything that has been revealed to us and to which we have been responding through Lent, the Triduum, the Easter season, and now these Holy Days and celebrations that have followed, leads to the conclusion and the appreciation of the Holy Trinity. God is good — all the time!