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THE MYSTERY OF THE BLESSED TRINITY AS REVEALED TO US

Father Francis's picture
Trinity Sunday

Prov. 8:22-31; Rom. 5:1-5 & Jn. 16:12-15

Every relationship we value involves a revelation of ourselves to another person. Ordinarily, this is a gradual process, becoming deeper as the relationship grows. It can begin before a personal meeting, especially through an individual's works. An artist reveals something of himself in his painting, a musician through the playing of her instrument. We can be impressed by how a son looks after his elderly mother or the dedication a woman brings to her work in a care home.

God’s revelation of Himself to Mankind was also a gradual process of deepening intimacy. The beauty of Creation and the harmony which exists in nature are themselves an indirect revelation of God. However, because of fallen nature, Creation has been seen by some people, mistakenly, as God Himself: pagan religions worshipped the planets or animals, or even people as God, until God Himself intervened personally.

For His revelation God chose the people of Israel, and revealed Himself to them as the one living God Who created everything but is Himself uncreated and majestic, and transcends the comprehension of human senses. Israel was thus the first nation on Earth to believe in one God, the Creator of all that exists, and their faith marked a gigantic leap from the beliefs of the pagans. God’s revelation to Israel was, however, only the first part of a larger revelation.

The complete picture was revealed later when God sent His only Son into the world. Having spoken in a fragmentary way through the prophets of the Old Testament, God has spoken definitively and revealed Himself completely in the Person and teaching of Jesus: we now have a full picture of the Godhead with the one God being a Trinity of persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – all equal in majesty. This fundamental truth is what Christians believe whereas the Jews and the Muslims still hold onto the incomplete revelation that God is One.

Although God’s self-revelation was complete in Jesus, the full implications of Jesus’ teaching had to be understood and developed over time and as new situations emerged. A classic example is the doctrine of the Trinity itself. This was already implicit in the life and teachings of Jesus, as Gospel accounts show.

In today’s passage from John, for example, Jesus refers to the Father, the Holy Spirit and Himself. According to Matthew, He gave the disciples the command to make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

It was the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, living in the Church and speaking through the Fathers of the Church and the Church Councils, that led the Church to the full meaning of Jesus’ teaching on the Trinity. It was nearly 400 years after Christ, having survived the onslaught of various heresies, that the Church finally arrived at the understanding of the Trinity which we now profess in our Creed each Sunday.

We believe, firstly, the Son of God was begotten of the Father from all eternity. As the eternal Word of God He existed before all creation. Secondly, He was present when the Father created the world, and indeed it was through Him that He created it. Both these truths are described in the First Reading from Proverbs where we have a personification of God’s Wisdom, which is none other than Christ. This eternal Son of God took flesh and become man in Jesus in a human body like ours. Finally, the Third Person of the Trinity is the Holy Spirit who is the love between the Father and the Son. As St. Paul says in the Second Reading from Romans, it is this love which has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

The Son and the Holy Spirit are thus truly divine, co-existing with the Father from all eternity. We thus have the doctrine of the Trinity: One God in three Persons, equal in majesty and yet one in Godhead.

At Baptism and indeed at each of the Sacraments, the Holy Spirit (that is, the life of love which exists within the Trinity) is poured into our hearts so that, we too, are empowered to love our brothers and sisters in Church and Society with the same love that exists within the Trinity.

Holy Spirit, if with Your power we live a life of genuine love, then our Church and Society will be helped to be drawn into the life of the Trinity. Give us the wisdom to put into practice in our daily lives the doctrine of the Trinity in this way. For God is love.

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