TEXT: Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, May 26, 2024

May 26, 2024 Father De Celles Homily

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

May 26, 2024

Homily by Fr. John De Celles

St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church

Springfield, VA

Today, of course, is Trinity Sunday,

celebrating a magnificent mystery of God and of our Catholic Faith.

But as I say, it is a “mystery,”

         meaning that we only know about it because Jesus revealed it to us,

         and we will never really understand it completely.

I mean, it’s really next to impossible to adequately explain the Trinity,

         the very essence of God Himself—His inner most being.

After all, who can explain the inner most being of another human,

         much less the inner most being

of the eternal, omnipotent Creator of the universe?

To say the least, it is difficult to explain and difficult to understand.

First of all, what does this dogma of the Trinity hold?

We believe there is one God, who is three persons.

They share the same divine nature,

         but each is God, whole and entire.

They are really distinct from one another—not simply different modes of being.

         You can’t say, as some try to,

that we call God “Father” when He’s creating the world;

we call Him “the Son” when He’s on the Cross;

and we call Him “the Spirit” when He dwells in us.

No. God the Son is a different person than God the Father

who is a different person than God the Holy Spirit–

but they are still one God.

In particular, They are seen in relationship to one another,

         relating as Father to Son–a son who is eternally begotten from the Father–

         and the Spirit of the two that proceeds forth from Them both–

         some say the personification of the love between the Father and Son.

Still, one God, three persons.

So, all that’s clear.

No—it’s still difficult to explain and to understand.

And it always has been.

2000 years ago, it was hard for the Jews to believe.

After all, the central dogma of Old Testament Judaism

is that there is only one God.

We read in today’s first reading,

“Fix in your heart, that the LORD is God…

and that there is no other.”

But they kept hearing Jesus say things like, “The Father and I are one.”

So, they called Him a blasphemer and tried to kill Him,

eventually succeeding.

It was also hard for many wannabe Christians in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th centuries including heretics like the Gnostics: They couldn’t and didn’t believe it.

So, too, it was hard for the rich Arab merchant who searched for the true God

and apparently found Him in Christianity, but rejected Him

because he could not accept the truth that God is one, but three persons.

So, Muhammad made up his own religion to suit his unbelief.

It is very difficult to understand, and so, difficult to believe.

And yet, we do believe.

But why?

Very simply, because we believe that Jesus is “the Christ, the one sent by God.”

And Jesus taught us the dogma of the Trinity.

For example, on the one hand,

Jesus Himself proclaimed the central dogma of Judaism:

         “The LORD our God is one.”

And yet, He called God His “Father” and says,

         “The Father and I are one.”

Now, some might say that Jesus was speaking metaphorically,

but as we read in John, chapter 10,

when the Jews accused Him of “making Himself God”

and tried to stone Him, instead of saying, ‘No, no, you misunderstood,’

He said to them,

                  “I am the Son of God…

know and understand

that the Father is in Me and I am in the Father.”

And He kept on insisting on this.

Who can forget the Last Supper

         when He went on and on about His unity with the Father?

Particularly in His rebuke of St. Philip, who asked, “Show us the father.”

Jesus responds:

“Have I been with you so long, and still you do not know Me?…

He who has seen Me has seen the Father;

how can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’

Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in Me?”

Not only did Jesus insist that He was one God with His father,

He insisted that the Holy Spirit was one God with Them also.

He promised His apostles,

         “I shall send to you…the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father.”

         He also promised,

“The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name.”

Both the Father and the Son send the Spirit.


Because while Jesus calls Him “the Spirit of the Father,”

St. Paul calls the Holy Spirit not only

“the Spirit of God” but also “the spirit of Jesus Christ,”

all the while, insisting, “There is one Spirit.”

We believe because Jesus said it and because the apostles taught it

and handed it down from generation to generation,

both in Sacred Scripture and in the Sacred Tradition.

And so, the Church has always accepted it

as not simply an interesting bit of trivia,

         but as the very first tenet of the Christian Faith:

If you do not believe in the Trinity, you are NOT a Christian.

This has been so important to the Church

that the earliest summaries of the Christian faith, like the Apostles Creed,

         which some say the apostles themselves wrote at the first Pentecost,

are centered around the Trinity.

Then, at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD,

when all the bishops of the world could all come together

for the first time since the death of the apostles,

the most important thing they did was give us

a more elaborate formulation of the Trinitarian Creed,

         the creed we say at every Sunday Mass—the Nicene Creed

(“I believe in one God, the Father…the Son…the Holy Spirit”).

The Trinity is the First Dogma of Christianity

because the whole Church comes out of,

revolves around, and moves toward this mystery.

Heaven is sharing in the communion of life and love of the Trinity.

The whole incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Christ are Trinitarian:

         The Father gives His Son, the Son offers Himself to the Father.

The Pentecost is Trinitarian:

         The Father and Son send the Spirit so They can dwell in us,

         and we can be one with Them.

The Sacraments are Trinitarian:

In Baptism we are baptized

“in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,”

         and receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our souls.

         Where the Holy Spirit is, there also are the Father and Son,

         so we begin sharing in the life of the Trinity.

In the Eucharist, by the power of the Holy Spirit,

Christ makes us one with Him and presents us to His Father.

We see the Trinity reflected in the whole Mass, which itself is Trinitarian:

         We begin and end the Mass in the name of

“the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit”.

And throughout the Mass, listen carefully to the triple repetitions,

subtly reminding us we are praying to a Trinitarian God:

“Holy, Holy, Holy;”

“through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault;”

the triple “Agnus Dei;”

“this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim.”

The Church herself  is also Trinitarian:

It is one because the Trinity is one;

it is the body of Christ, enlivened by the Spirit, to praise the Father.

Even Creation itself is Trinitarian:

         God created man in His own image so He could invite us

to live and love in the life and love of the Trinity.


This is what we believe.

Still, all this is difficult to understand.

Does this make us stupid, or naïve, or irrational?

No, because it would be stupid, naïve, irrational, and the height of arrogance

         to think that we could ever really understand everything about God

—especially about His innermost being.

Do you understand how God created the universe?

No; but you believe it, and it is very rational to do so.

Do you understand how God can love each one of us uniquely and totally

         even though you and I are like mere specks of dust in this huge universe?

Do you understand how God could become a man and die on the Cross

and still be completely God?

Do you understand how God could truly come to us,

         body, blood, soul, and divinity

         under the appearance of a piece of bread we could eat?

No. You have some inkling of an understanding of these things,

         but you don’t understand any of them completely.

But still, you believe them.

Think about it: It would be so much easier for the Church

to proclaim the Gospel without the Trinity.

Who would make something so difficult to understand as the central tenet

of their religion if they weren’t compelled to by God Himself?

Some things we don’t understand,

but we still believe because Jesus has revealed them to us.

These are what we call mysteries of the Faith.

And by that, we don’t mean we just accept it blindly and without understanding.

Rather, mysteries are truths that are hidden in God,

too big or magnificent for us to understand,

and which we could never begin to know anything about,

unless they are revealed by God.

Scripture reminds us,

“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor?”

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand

…and weighed the mountains in scales…like God has?”

If we can’t understand something like Creation or the Incarnation,

how can we really hope to ever completely fathom

the dogma of the Trinity?

After all, this dogma is a peek into the very inner most life

of the eternal boundless God.

To believe this dogma is not to be foolish, but to accept a wondrous gift:

to know God in His deepest self;

to know something of the boundless and eternal

intimate love and life that the Three Divine Persons

share so perfectly and completely;

and to be invited to share in that

relationship of divine, eternal, and boundless love and life

imperfectly in this world, and perfectly and forever in the next.


As we continue with this Holy Mass,

let us turn to the Trinitarian mystery of the Eucharist,

the sacrifice of the Son to His Father

made present by the power of the Holy Spirit.

And by these sacred mysteries,

may we now be lifted up into the wondrous and intimate mystery of

the eternal life and boundless love that is the Holy Communion

of the Most Holy Trinity.