FEASTING ON THE WORD
"If you meditate on the Scriptures it will appear to you in its brilliant splendor." ―St. Pio of Pietrelcina
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity ( C )
Proverbs 8:22-31 | Psalm 8:4-5, 6-7, 8-9 | Romans 5:1-5 | John 16:12-15
There’s a story about Phillip, a young boy who goes and climbs up a mountain in what is now Turkey. He meets Evagrius of Pontus, a Greek monk of the 4th century. And the boy wakes the monk up because the monk is half asleep. And the monk says, “What can I do for you, young man?” And he says, “I want you to explain God for me.” And the monk smiles and he says, “God cannot be grasped by the mind. If God could be grasped, he is not a God that you should worship.” And he smiled and went back to sleep.
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, the central mystery of the Christian faith and of Christian life” (CCC, 234). Trinity is one God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. It’s not three gods. It’s not three qualities of God. It’s not three phases of God. It's not three forms of God. There is one God in three persons. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are fully distinct from the other, but at the same time, fully and completely God. Each person, at the same time is fully united to the other and in their union they are completely God. One God, three persons. Maybe hard to understand completely, but not impossible to understand in part.
The children were lined up in the cafeteria of Malate Catholic School for lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples.The RVM sister made a note, and posted on the apple tray, "Take only one. God is watching." Moving further along the lunch line, at the other end of the table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies. One child whispered to another, "Take all you want. We only have one God and he is watching the apples."
Our first reading taken from the Book of Proverbs, speaks to the eternity of God, among other things. It teaches us monotheism. That is, there is only one god, not many gods. There are not three gods. As our creed says the three persons are consubstantial. That is they are of one substance. God is unique, God is one, God is the only one. God is great. Yet, God is three persons.
A beautiful Greek word that the early church theologians used to describe the Trinity is κένωσις (kenōsis). It is the act of self-giving for the good of another. It is found in the early Christian hymn in Philippians 2: Though he was God, Jesus did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he emptied himself and took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. The word emptied translates the verb form of kenōsis. Jesus gave of himself for the good of another. The theologians reasoned that if Jesus was kenotic, the Father and the Spirit must be also. So the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are living in mutual submission to one another. This is the heart of the Trinity: giving oneself for the good of the other.
In the second reading from Romans, we learn God does not abandon us. Hope remains alive in us because the Holy Spirit has poured out the love of God into our hearts. Rather than explain the mystery, we express it through our experiences of love. St. Augustine believes that God who is Trinity is a God who lives in relationship. He spoke about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in terms of Lover, Beloved, and Love. God is love, as the First Letter of John (4:8) tells us. In fact, God has within Himself a community of love. We are made in the image of God, which means there is something Trinitarian about us, as well. We are made to be in a relationship. We are made for community. We are made for communion. We are all called to emulate this perfect relationship within the world.
The year was 1961 and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was the first human to travel into space. After circling the earth, the atheistic astronaut came back and declared that he looked outside his capsule and didn’t see God anywhere. To which Dr. Wallie Amos Criswell, American pastor and author, replied, “Let him take just one step out of his space capsule for just one second and he’ll see God quickly enough!”
The Gospel for today tells us that the Spirit of truth will lead us to the complete truth about God. Happily for us the gospel does not say when we will come to the complete truth. Perhaps this is because the Gospel writer knows full well that the God revealed by Jesus is not just a mystery to be solved. Every generation of Christians must make the effort to see where and how the God who creates, saves and sanctifies is speaking to us. Have you taken steps to see God? Have you taken steps to love? <enrique, ofs>
Jeff Jacinto, PhD, DHum