PREPARING FOR THE WORD
Before you begin take a moment to pray, saying this short prayer by St. John Chrysostom or a prayer in your own words asking the Lord to open up your heart and mind to his Word.
O Lord Jesus Christ, open the eyes of my heart, that I may hear Your word and understand and do Your will.
REFLECTING ON THE WORD
As Christians we live within the great mystery of the Trinity. What might (mistakenly) appear to be an abstruse and abstract point of theological speculation, is not only foundational for authentic Christian faith, but is at the heart of our liturgical and sacramental life; of Christian morality and Catholic social teaching and of our rich tradition of prayer.
But we must understand that the Trinitarian nature of God is not the result of human speculation but of divine revelation.
Recall for a moment our beginnings as a Church. The Blessed Mother, the apostles and disciples were all pious and devout Jews who believed and confessed the oneness and the unity of God. In daily prayer and at every significant moment of their lives, the confession of the unity of God was on their lips in prayer.
Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.
This monotheistic confession of Israel was and remains the bedrock of Jewish faith in God and of our Christian faith as well.
Yet the apostles and disciples had adjust their understanding of the one God because of their encounter with Jesus and with the Holy Spirit. Initially they had no theological or philosophical categories to describe or understand their experience. God revealed to them (and to all of humanity) the Son and the Spirit.
Against every expectation, the first Christians had to make room in their understanding of God for a God who revealed himself as at once one God and yet three Persons – the divine Person who Jesus called Father – the divine Person revealed as the Son of the Father and the the divine Person revealed as the Spirit of truth and holiness first poured out on Jesus at his baptism and then sent by the Father and the Son upon the disciples at Pentecost.
Over the course of centuries the theology of the Trinity began to take shape as the Church meditated on the meaning and significance for Christians of the revelation in Christ of three divine Persons united in one God. There were debates and councils, false starts and dead-ends as the Church struggled to think rightly about the mystery of the Trinitarian God.
What the Church celebrates on Trinity Sunday, is a truly audacious assertion about God. We say, teach, pray and live, that God is a community of divine Persons. That is, that God, even within the perfect unity that God by nature is, is a community. But even more boldly, we proclaim and teach and celebrate that this community of persons is a community of love. That the love and peace St. Paul ascribes to God the second reading for Trinity Sunday is not extrinsic to God but is revealed as the very essence of God’s being and nature. God is animated by love.
At Sinai, in the second reading of the feast, the Lord revealed to Moses the ineffable divine Name: I AM WHAT I AM (or I AM WHAT I AM BECOMING. Passing by Moses while veiled in the cloud, God revealed his own nature when he cried out: “ The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.”
The God revealed at Sinai as merciful, gracious, kind and faithful is most perfectly revealed in Jesus Christ. In the gospel for Trinity Sunday, Jesus says to Nicodemus:
“God so loved the entire cosmos that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him may not die but may have eternal life.”
It is in the image of the Crucified God nailed to the cross that we see with our own eyes the infinite depth and the all-encompassing love of God poured out for us.
Thus we praise, thank and we worship the One God revealed in the community of Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, united in the perfect communion of love.
What does this mean then for us?
Despite claims to the contrary, the ground of being is love. Far from being absurd or random, the universe and everything created by God participates in the communion of love that is the Blessed Trinity. Why? Because everything that exists is the creative outpouring of that union of love within the very heart of the Godhead. Everything that is, from the most distant stars to the tiny particles that make up our bodies, everything visible and invisible, is animated and held in being by that love, is oriented to that divine love and in that love finds its ultimate destiny.
The communion of love that is the Trinity is our deepest identity as human beings. It is the template for every human relationship. We do not exist as monads, as atomized individuals. No, we are made for God, who is revealed to us as a community of mutual love. Thus, we are made for each other and are called to live together.
We see this in the communion of persons between husbands and wives that is a sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. St. Augustine, used the imagery of married love in one of his most beautiful and profound reflections on the bond of love that unites the Persons of the Trinity. He spoke of the Father as the One who Loves, the Son as One who is loved, and the Holy Spirit as the living bond of love between them. The Trinity, then, is the pattern and the model for marriage and family life.
As Christians each of us by our baptism has entered into the Trinitarian life of mutual love. Each of us are called to perfect that love by sharing in the life and love of the Trinity. We do this not as isolated individuals but united in one Body, the Body of Christ which is the Church. Although our salvation in Christ is always personal, we live out that new life united together in the communion of love of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.. The Trinity is both the source and the model for the unity of the Church, which God has gathered together, as well as a variety of different gifts, offices, conditions and ways of life.
We can be confident that by embracing in faith, the communion of persons in love that is the Triune God, we can rely on the One who knows each one us by name and who loves us with the same infinite love that brought the cosmos into being.
Let us live each day in thanksgiving and praise of the Father, who created us, through the Son, who saved us and in the Spirit who has sanctified us and made us holy.