Browsing Homilies

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Dt 4:32-34, 39-40 | Ps 33 | Rom 8:14-17 | Mt 28:16-20

Today we have a chance to celebrate and delve deeper into one of the central mysteries of the Church: the Trinity. Many of us have learned through our religious education classes that we believe in one God, but this one God is Three Persons. We spend an entire semester on a course in the seminary on the Trinity, and the last statement Sr. McCormack said was, “but in the end, it’s a mystery.” One of my classmates piped up and asked, “Can we put that on our final?”

Important to note is that when the Church deems something a “mystery,” it isn’t a Scooby Doo episode with another mystery on their hands, or of a crime scene, or a puzzle that needs to be pieced together. We don’t need to uncover more clues to piece the mystery together and gain one complete picture. Rather, the mysteries of the Church aren’t born from a lack of evidence or knowledge, but an overflow of it. Mysteries, like the Trinity, have in them so much depth and insight that we can only scratch the surface of their beauty.

Perhaps a more fitting analogy for a mystery is that of a human person. Think of a friend you may have known for ten years, and they are likely still a complete mystery to you. You might know a lot about them, but you continue to do so for the rest of your lives. Or, couples who have been married for more than fifty years who say the same thing. It’s not that they don’t know each other well, but that there is an incomprehensible amount of depth that makes up each person, so much so that even fifty years together does not fully illuminate the entirety of a person. And despite the mystery and the unknown, couples still continue to love the other fully. Perhaps this is why the apostles still bent down in worship although they did not fully understand what had happened to Jesus.

Mysteries are impossible to fully explain or understand. Because of that, ritual is at the heart of what we do as a believing people. Jesus and the apostles understood that if we were to participate fully in the saving mystery of the One God who is Three Persons, we would need something more than words. That is why Jesus left us not only his teaching but the sacraments as well. In today’s gospel, Jesus commissions the disciples not only to preach the good news but to baptize the nations “in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”  Through baptism, the first of the sacraments, we are adopted as sons and daughters of God. The other sacraments build on this reality. The Sacrament of Reconciliation repairs our relationship with God and others and brings us back into the loving family of the Trinity. In the Eucharist, we enter into deeper communion with Jesus and are drawn into his relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Through Marriage and Holy Orders, we live out our calling to serve others as sons and daughters of God. And through the Anointing of the Sick, our health (body, mind, and/or spirit) is restored so that we may serve others, or we are made ready to see God and enter into that relationship with the Holy Trinity in heaven. And so, participating in the sacraments whenever possible is vitally important if the mystery of God’s life is to become real in our own lives.

What is there to learn from the Trinity? Why does it matter that we believe in a triune God rather than one God? Is it just an abstract theological truth that we are told to believe in? Does it have any bearing in our lives?

For one, our belief in a Triune God of unity dictates our common responses and the posture we adopt at Mass. Because our God is One, so too, in the public prayer of the Church, we strive to be one. In a certain enough sense, we check personal piety at the door when the Mass, the sacraments, and the Liturgy of the Hours are celebrated.

Public Service Announcement on our reception of Holy Communion (in preparation for the Body and Blood of Christ): when the Host is presented to you, a bow of the head is the posture of reverence we’ve been asked to demonstrate as one. Your response of “Amen,” demonstrates your belief in the Real Presence, as well as the fact that you are the Body of Christ. (I’m getting an awful lot of thank-you’s, lately). When receiving on the hand: your dominate hand is beneath the other, palms as flat as possible. Some of you have become grabbers! A treasure is being placed in your hand; please, permit that moment to take place.

Couples preparing for marriage: at one point I always tell them, your love for one another is to model the love of the Trinity: no other relationship on earth allows this more than those who receive the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. The Father and the Son enjoy a constant exchange of love: so much so, that it creates a Third Other: the Holy Spirit. When a husband and wife give and receive one another in a moment of profound unity and love: what’s the possibility? A third other.

If we Catholics were more united in our belief outside these walls, it would change society over night! It’s why we have a Fish-Filet sandwich at McDonald’s! Guess who was hurting during Lent when fast food came into existence? Everything from how our human activity affects the environment in which we live, to our response of issues surrounding life, from the first moment of conception to natural death: these are not political issues; but rather, moral issues. If we were better unified in our response to these issues, it would "force-the-hand," and society would change overnight!

Entering deeper into the mystery of a Trinitarian God is meant to impact and change all that we think and do as members of God’s Church. If we understand who God is, then we will respond with love and become more like God, for God is love.

We bless ourselves “in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” We offer the Mass to the Father, through the Son, and in the Holy Spirit. Though we cannot fully explain or understand it, the mystery of the Trinity is woven into our lives as believers. It is nothing more or less than the nature of God whose love is so abundant that God welcomes us to share in God’s very life. It’s an invitation which we first received at our baptism. We strive, with God’s help, to respond to that invitation daily by living our lives according to the dignity that is ours as sons and daughters of God. Through the sacraments and prayer, we enter more fully into that mystery which is beyond words. And we live with an active hope that one day we will see God as God is: One God in Three Persons and praise him for all eternity!


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