June 15, 2014 – The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
Although the Bible reinforces and confirms the concept of the Holy Trinity in many ways, it is an idea we as thinking humans have struggled with for centuries. In the final chapter and verse of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus speaks to the Apostles and says, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” It may seem like a minor point, but it is clear both in what the Lord says and what the original Greek states, that Jesus said “in the name of,” not the “names of.” The Trinity is singular in nature
This verifies the notion that the Trinity is one, not three. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, although three beings, are in reality one, and thus have one name and being, not three. We all are aware how difficult this belief is to understand, but that is one of the key convictions of our Catholic faith. That is why we celebrate this fundamental principle of our faith one week after Pentecost each year, one week after the official end of the Easter season. As you might expect on Holy Trinity Sunday, the scriptural readings either provide insights or support for the Trinity.
The Gospel reading from John begins with the often cited and proclaimed words from John 3:16: “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…” It is vital to be aware of that because the first reading from Exodus 34 is all about God’s love. The first reading provides glimpses of the love God feels and expresses toward us, “a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.” Fortunately, God is not like we are. Sometimes we may be looking for someone to do something wrong (a spouse, a child, a sibling, a priest) and then we become angry as we desired to be. God is, on the other hand, “slow to anger.” He is patient and loving and merciful. When Moses becomes aware of God’s great love, he reacts as follows: “Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship.” That is how we need to respond to God’s love, by worshipping Him. Every time (and there are many times each day if we are thinking about it) we experience God’s love, we need to worship Him more than we ever did before. It is ongoing. It is our response. It is an example of stewardship.
The second reading from St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians contains one of the most significant statements in the entire New Testament. Some fundamentalist sects are fond of pointing out that the Holy Trinity is not found in the Bible. Yet, in his closing (this reading presents Paul’s final words in his letter) Paul states quite clearly, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” If that sounds familiar, it should, even though it is the only time in the entire New Testament that this blessing is stated in this way. It is with those words that the priest greets us, and we respond, “And with your spirit.” Paul sees the God-given spirit which is in each of us. It is that spirit which makes us capable of being one with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, so saying “And with your spirit” is most likely what Paul heard when Mass was said in his time.
There are more than 31,000 verses in the Bible, but John 3:16 may be the most seen and experienced one of all of them. It is simple, but it represents everything that the Holy Trinity is and represents to us…”For God so loved the world.” And who are the beneficiaries of this love? “Whoever believes in Him.” In this case “Him” means the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Believing means we trust God; we rely on God; and we do everything we can to develop a close relationship with God. That is, in effect, what we follow and do when we pursue lives of stewardship. It is based upon trust; it recognizes our need for God’s love; and it represents the way we live out our relationship with God as His disciples.