Prov 8:22-31; Rom 5:1-5; John 16:12-15
Fr. Frank Mihalic, SVD (A Thought for Today 2001:16) said that when we pray we usually begin it with these words: “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” After our prayer we end up also with the same words or “Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.” Jesus when He was about to ascend into heaven He told His disciples to go to the whole world and preach the good news and baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. In order for a baptism to be valid these words have to be used by us when we baptize somebody. The Trinity tells us that there are three Divine Persons in one Divine Nature. The names Father, Son and Holy Spirit are names of persons. We call these three divine persons as the Holy Trinity.
Fr. Mihalic continued that the word “trinity” means “three in one.” We believed, as Jesus taught us, that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all is God. But these three together are Only One God and not three. Thus, in the words of the Athanasian Creed: “the Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God and yet there are not three Gods but one God.” How? Maybe we can explain this truth by showing an example. An example can provide a picture for a certain truth. I will attempt to clarify this with an example. My hand has five fingers but all five fingers are parts of one hand (and the words finger and hand do not refer to the same kind of thing). It is appropriate, therefore, that I will arrive at a different number if I count my fingers than hands. Likewise, Person and nature are different things and when I apply these words to God I find that there are three of the former and one of the latter.
Another example is three glasses of water. Name them A, B and C. Now you will agree with me that the Glass A is not Glass B and is not Glass C. Am I right? So you have these three separate glasses which are different from each other but filled with one and the same water. But how and why? If you can answer these questions, then, it is good for you and you have an idea of the Holy Trinity. If you cannot answer these questions, then, don’t worry it’s not your fault.
Today we are celebrating the solemnity of the Holy Trinity which means three divine persons but one God or three in one. Bishop Villegas has a very good description of what this feast is all about. He said that the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity is s unique feast in the church. It is unique because we are not celebrating an event like Christmas, Pentecost or Easter Sunday. Rather, we are celebrating a dogma of teaching. Also this Solemnity of the Holy Trinity is a mystery. There are so many questions will arise from our minds after we arrive at an answer.
We call all things that we cannot understand as mysteries. There are many mysteries in our lives right now: things that we have no answer for. Let us take a few examples. Why cannot we see the thoughts in our brain? If I hit my finger, why I cannot see the pain that I feel, only the reaction of my face in a mirror? What causes cancer? What makes us sleep? Even if I cannot see thoughts or pain or time or life, they exist just the same. It is the same with Holy Trinity. It is one of the truths of our faith that we cannot fully understand.
But one truth is that when we talk about mystery, it doesn’t mean that we know nothing about it even the Catechism for Filipino Catholics (CFC no. 1356) did not teach us that mystery is unknowable, nor we don’t have any basis about it. Our limited human mind cannot simply discern everything about the truth of God. God is not completely beyond comprehension, neither is He within complete comprehension.
Solemnity of the Holy Trinity is a mystery because it violates all laws of mathematics, logic and reason. Mathematics says to us that one plus one plus one equals three. But the mystery of the Holy Trinity says one plus one plus one equals one. If we say to our Mathematics teacher that one plus one plus one equals one, she will fail us. If we tell the Pope that one plus one plus one equals three, we will be called heretics. We fall out of the church because the mystery of the Holy Trinity is one plus one plus one equals one.
The Father is distinct from the Son. The Son is not the Holy Spirit. The Son is not the Father. Yet the Father is equal to the Son and the Son is equal to the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is equal to the Father and the Son. If they are put together, they are not three gods but one God. If you are confused, so do I but I accept this truth about God in faith.
How the Holy Spirit is to be experienced? Bishop said that we could experience the Holy Trinity if we are united. I am thinking of a Christian family. If they are united with each other in love, then I can see in them the Holy Trinity who is the mirror of unity of this family especially if they go to church together. There is the father, the mother and the children. This kind of family mirrors the Holy Trinity who in constant unity with each other.
But of course another way of experiencing the Holy Trinity is by respecting each other’s uniqueness. Just as the father does not eat up the Son and the Son does not eat up the Holy Spirit. The Father and the Son respect the uniqueness and the identity of the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit respects the distinctness of the Father and the Son. This is our lesson. We need to respect each other.
Thomas Kempis in his book Imitation of Christ said: “What merit is there to understand the mystery of trinity if we do not live like the Trinity.”
See Today’s Readings: Cycle C
Back to: Trinity Sunday (Year C)