Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
June 11, 2017
Homily by Fr. John De Celles
St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church
Whenever we pray the Creed we express the basic tenet of our faith:
“We believe in one God…”
But in that same Creed, we also say we that we believe
in God the Father, God the Son, God and the Holy Spirit.
It almost seems as if we’re contradicting ourselves.
The standard, and correct, explanation is to say that there is one God,
but there are three divine persons in Him.
How can that be true?
And yet it is true—because Jesus—who is the truth–has revealed it to us.
In fact, that’s the whole reason he came into the world
—to reveal the mystery of the Trinity to us,
and to invite us to live in the heart of that mystery.
To understand Jesus’ revelation of the Trinity,
we have to remember that the central theme of the New Testament is
the love of God,
and this is nowhere more apparent than in the writings of St. John
—“the beloved disciple”.
In certain key passages he explains the relationship between the Father and Son,
as He quotes Our Lord:
“I am in the Father and the Father is in me”,
“I love the Father…[and] the Father loves me”,
and “Father…you have loved me before the foundation of the world.”
And St. John’s most profound statement about God’s love is found in his first epistle
when he says simply: “God is love.”
Being a good Jew, St. John holds firmly the most fundamental belief of Judaism, that: “The LORD our God is one!”
But to this idea of the oneness of God he adds Jesus’ new insights
on the loving relationship between the Father and Son,
and that “God is love.”
And we begin to see the basic existence of God in terms of
a Father and Son who are one in an interpersonal relationship of love,
with Holy Spirit coming forth from this eternal love in such a way
that he is often called the personification of this love.
St. John sees three divine persons whose whole existence
is dedicated to loving each other
with an infinite divine love that both
infinitely unites them and comes from their unity,
so that we can say that God’s life itself,
in its very essence and in its every aspect,
is a union or communion of love.
Jesus is the one who first explicitly and clearly reveals the concept of the Trinity,
but the first time it shows up in Scripture
is actually in the very first verses of the Bible.
Genesis, Chapter 1, verse 1 begins:
“In the beginning, …the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness
covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters.
Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.”
The word “wind” here is the same word which translates as “spirit.”
And light comes into the world because God speaks
—or because of the Word of God.
So right at the beginning of Genesis we see that the Spirit and the Word,
who is the Son,
are present and one with the Father from all eternity.
So God is a communion of persons living together in love from all eternity.
But Love is not exclusive: true love is inclusive
–love by nature tends to share or to give itself.
So the Trinity by nature wants to share not just within, but also without.
So Genesis tells us that God created a creature like himself, in his own image:
a creature fundamentally designed to live in loving relationship with another
And Genesis tells us God creates this human creature
as both male and female in his image:
so that human beings are created to live and love with God,
but to do so with each other.
Genesis goes on to tell us that at first everything is perfect:
God and man, men and women, lived together in perfect unity and love.
But problems begin when Adam and Eve introduce something new:
they acted not out love for God, but out of love for self—they sinned.
And the harmony of paradise was lost to mankind.
But God is love, so he could not stop loving us.
So in the fullness of time, as the beginning of St. John’s Gospel tells us,
“the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
Or in the words of today’s reading from St. John’s Gospel:
“God so loved the world that He gave His only Son,
so that everyone who believes in Him …might have eternal life.”
This eternal life which Jesus offers to believers is that divine life of Trinitarian love.
He comes to reveal the Trinity to us,
to invite us to return to that original state of life and love God made us for
—even to surpass the gift given to Adam and Eve,
by becoming adopted sons and daughters
in the family of the Father, Son and Spirit.
To be one with them as they are one with each other, in life and love.
But what is this life and love like.
To understand that we look again at the mystery of the Trinity
as Jesus himself reveals it.
And we remember that God the Son entered the world
“not to be served but to serve.”
As he says to his Father on the night he was betrayed:
“not my will, but your will be done.”
And as St Paul tells us elsewhere:
“though he was in the form of God,
[he] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped [at],
[rather] he …[took] the form of a servant,…
humbled himself and became obedient unto death… on a cross.
As Jesus reveals the Trinity, he reveals an amazing mystery:
That while he and the Father are one—equal and co-existing from all eternity—
his relationship to the Father is one of a humble and obedient Son
—humble not because of inferiority,
and obedient not because of fear,
but humble and obedient out of love for his Father.
And just as the Son enters the world out of obedient love for his Father,
in the same way the Holy Spirit comes forth from them co-eternally,
and is sent from them in obedience to transform us by dwelling in us,
making it possible for us to live as one with them in love forever.
But to live with them in love is to live like them, in the image of God.
To do this we must remember what St. John tells us Jesus taught His apostles
at the Last Supper:
“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”
To live in our lives the mystery of the humility and obedience of Jesus
—to be fundamentally a servant.
If we are one with Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit,
we can live as he lived, realizing that his teaching—his commandments—
are not arbitrary rules,
but a description of how to live like God: of how to be a servant.
We will serve first our God,
but then also serve our parents, our spouses, and our children
–and our neighbors as well.
We will not only not lie to or steal from our neighbor, but we will also feed them when they’re hungry, and clothe them when they’re naked.
We will not only not kill each other, but we will also,
as today’s second reading says:
“encourage one another,
agree with one another, live in peace,
and the God of love and peace will be with us.”
We will become servants of each other,
as the Father, Son and Spirit are to each other.
–though equal to each other,
we will not deem equality as something to be grasped at,
but instead become humble, and even obedient,
toward each other.
This is the meaning of being a Christian: it is the mystery of the Trinity.
As we come together today in this Mass,
we come to participate in Jesus’ ultimate act of loving obedience
for the Father and for us
–the sacrifice of the Cross made present in the Eucharist.
By the power of the Holy Spirit,
the Eucharist draws us into His humble gift of his whole being
—all of his life and love:
by this “bread of life” we are physically and spiritually united
to the person of Jesus Christ, God the Son,
and united to the Son,
we enter into the mystery of the Trinitarian communion of love.
As we receive this “Holy Communion,”
let us ask our Lord to teach us the meaning of the Trinity.
Because we know that this is why he came into the world:
to reveal this marvelous mystery to us,
and to invite us to live in the very heart of this mystery.
To invite us to “believe in one God”, and to live together–now and forever—
as one in love with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.