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The Most Holy Trinity (Year A)


The Most Holy Trinity (Year A)

Ex 34.4-6, 8-9;  
II Cor 13.11-13;  
Jn 3.16-1

Today’s solemnity of the Holy Trinity draws together the various teachings about God which we have received through the gospel readings every Sunday, especially during the season of Easter. In the Easter season, we concentrated largely on Christ Our Lord, on His resurrection, His appearances to the apostles, and then His Ascension.  Last Sunday, we celebrated Pentecost, the sending of the Holy Spirit. Throughout the period between His resurrection and His ascension, Christ’s teaching was much more directly about the reality of God’s existence, rather than about how to live a good life. In other words, His teaching was revealing God to us. And when, not surprisingly, the disciples found the teaching difficult to understand, our Lord promised that they would understand much more after He had sent the Holy Spirit as their teacher. Each person of the Trinity reveals more and more of the Godhead who is three persons, but not three Gods.
The opening prayer at today’s Mass provides a good framework for our understanding of this great mystery.  It is addressed to God the eternal Father, and it speaks of the Son being sent by the Father to bring us the truth, and of the Spirit being sent to make us holy. Truth and holiness. We need both of these, truth and holiness, if we are to understand God. The prayer asks that through the truth revealed by the Son and through the holiness which is the gift of the Spirit, we may come to know the mystery of God’s life.
The first point of truth to note is this doctrine about God as Trinity; that without dividing Him up into parts, God forever exists in three distinct Persons. If we ponder this fact it will help us to understand better the essence and nature of God. Within God Himself, quite independent of anything else, there is the primary and uncreated love that flows between the three divine Persons. The Father loves the Son, not Himself. The Son loves the Father, not Himself. The Spirit is the love between the Father and the Son, a love so real that it is a third Person.

This mutual love in God exists independently of anything in creation. It is independent of anything that God has made, and predates anything that God ever made.  Before all worlds were made, and long after all worlds have ceased to be, the three Persons in God were loving each other, and will be loving each other. In this way, the seemingly remote doctrine of Trinity can help to explain what is the most relevant belief about God for most people: that God is love.
If we ponder this it will also help us to understand that relationship is the fundamental category of existence. God in Himself is a family, a relationship.  Relationship is at the heart of God, the heart of all reality.  And we humans are made in the image of God, we are made in the image of Trinity. This is why we are defined most accurately by our need to exist in relation to others. Family, community, friendship;  these are not peripheral. They are central, indeed essential, to our lives as humans. The Trinity is thus the basis for our self-understanding, understanding our need of others. The love of God within  Himself is the key to our understanding of what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Having reflected on the inner life of the Trinity, and how that life is mirrored in our own nature, we must also consider where we encounter the Trinity. Where do we meet the Blessed Trinity?  The answer is that we encounter the Trinity first and foremost in the Eucharist.   In the first part of the Mass, we have the liturgy of the word, the readings from holy scripture. Most important of these is of course the gospel, the actual words and deeds of Christ, the Word made flesh. But the gospels are not just about Christ.  God is never to be divided up. None of the three Persons is ever found alone. We must broaden our thoughts, to realize that in the scriptures it is God the Father who is revealing Himself, through the teachings and miracles of His Son, as recorded by the human authors of the Bible.

God makes use of human minds and human words as the vehicle of revelation, but those minds and words were at every stage under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  So, all three Persons of the Trinity are involved in this process of revelation; Christ has revealed the truth about the Father, but we need the presence of the Holy Spirit as the memory and interpreter of that truth. As Our Lord says in St John’s gospel: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will lead you to the complete truth. He will glorify me since he will take what is mine and declare it to you, and everything the Father has is mine.”  

The second part is the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist which comprises the taking, blessing, offering, and sharing of the eucharistic elements. At the Eucharistic prayer, in which the consecration happens is the heart of every Mass and is addressed to God the Father. In it, the priest asks the Father to send the Holy Spirit upon the gifts. Why? In order that they might be changed by the Holy Spirit from being bread and wine into the reality of the body and blood of  Christ.”And so, Father, we bring you these gifts. We ask you to make them holy by the power of your Spirit, that they may become the body and blood of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.” The body and blood of God the Son are made truly present on the altar by God the Father, through the working of God the Holy Spirit. Then, in the power of that same Holy Spirit, we all offer ourselves to the Father, along with the Son’s sacrificial offering of Himself.

When we receive communion, we receive the real presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He comes to us in an incarnate way, in a truly physical way. His body and blood are made present in this physical way so that we can receive him physically, in order to be in communion with him spiritually, so that he can make us like himself, full of holiness and truth. That is what the Blessed Trinity offers to us when we receive Christ. We receive Christ, but Christ is in and of the Trinity.  

So we come to understand that the best way into the Trinity, so to speak, is the Blessed Sacrament. In the Blessed Sacrament, we take and eat Christ in Person. That Person is  inseparably united to the Father and the Spirit. This makes Christ  our point of entry into the Godhead. He is the bridge between us and our maker. He is our passport to heaven. In Holy Communion we renew the visa again and again. So that when the time comes for us to leave this world and go to eternity, we shall already have welling-up within us the start of our eternal life. In Holy Communion, the fountain is already flowing.  One day the fountain will turn into a flood, and the flood into an endless sea, till in the ocean of God’s love, we lose ourselves in heaven above.

Fr Joseph Osho

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