YEAR B: CATHOLIC HOMILY FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY
THEME: THE MYSTERY OF OUR CHRISTIAN FAITH
BY: Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya
HOMILY: Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40
“In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” Amen.
That brief, familiar prayer immediately leads us into the central mystery we celebrate this Sunday – the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity is the most supreme Truth, yet the most unfathomable mystery of our Christian faith. It is the mystery of who God is (cf. CCC 738).
As a matter of fact, our profession of faith in the Trinity is what makes us Christians. To the point that religious groups who honour Christ and perhaps even call themselves or think of themselves as Christians, but do not share our faith in the “one God in three persons” are by this very fact non-Christians. These include not only Muslims or Unitarian Universalists, but Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, and Jehovah ´s Witnesses, for example. And so, I hope there are not some of us Catholics who are so ignorant of this root of our faith that we might be said to be non-Christians also!
God our Father, who by sending into the world the Word of truth and the Spirit of sanctification made known to the human race your wondrous mystery; grant us, we pray, that in professing the true faith, we may acknowledge the Trinity of eternal glory and adore your Unity, powerful in majesty. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
This prayer is the opening Collect at the beginning of this mass. This opening Collect for Trinity Sunday is rich with robust, vibrant and dynamic theological statements about the triune God. This opening prayer sets the stage as it were for a majestic experience of worshipping the Trinity. The first “point” made in the Collect is quite clear: “true faith” is acknowledging the Trinity. Actually, it’s more than that. It is acknowledging both the glory and eternity of the Trinity. The glory of the Trinity is that our God is one and reigns over all. Jesus himself affirms this in our gospel reading today “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me…” (cf. Matt. 28:18). The eternity is that the three persons of the Trinity have existed eternally and are not created beings.
The Feast of the Holy Trinity comes now, just at the beginning of Ordinary Time, because it is the height of all of the great feast days we have celebrated so far: of Christmas, of Mary, Mother of God, the Epiphany, the Baptism of our Lord, Lent, Easter, the Ascension, and Pentecost. They all culminate in the Holy Trinity. Each feast day, one after the other, has revealed one more aspect of who God is. He became man, to a virgin mother, revealed himself to all nations, and underwent Baptism to show us the way to eternal life. He was crucified, died, was buried and he resurrected and ascended into heaven to show us, as Paul said, that “if we suffer with him we will be glorified with him.” (Rom 8:17) And God the Holy Spirit came to us to preserve us in these truths which Christ himself had taught. In fact, every feast day, every Sunday, every liturgical act is a celebration of the Holy Trinity, a celebration of God who is one in nature, but three in Persons.
But the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity has always been very problematic and even hard to preach. This is because we tend to look at it as a mathematical formula which has to be understood -that is where we are mistaken. The Holy Trinity is a model of life to be imitated. There is a very simple way to reflect on the mystery we celebrate this Sunday. The life of the Holy Trinity is a life of intense sharing of one and the same life, in the most perfect manner possible. But the sole distinction between them is their respective relationship and activity. By this we mean, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are distinct persons. That is, the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is not the Father. While I would not want to bother you too much, trying to unravel this mystery, I would still like us to reflect on the significance of this mystery for our Christian living.
In this mystery, God opens up his intimacy to us. By revealing to us the innermost secrets of his life, God invites us into his intimacy in a way no human person ever has or ever can. Talk of “full disclosure”! No matter how much we might try, we simply do not know ourselves in this way. We can talk about our thoughts and feelings and our history- but who we really are is a mystery to us. God, on the contrary, is totally transparent to himself. Still, he did not have to reveal himself to us; we reveal ourselves “fully” (within our measure) to a very few, maybe just to our closest friend. But for him we are not mere creatures, but His Children, heirs with Jesus as our Brother (cf. Roman 8:14-17). Jesus himself calls us his special friends (and Jesus reveals the Trinitarian love in himself, cf. John 15:15).
Each member of the Trinity act in harmony with one another; and there are no separate agenda as are sometimes found in Christian communities (1 Cor.1:10-13). For example, the Father sends the Son (John 3:16) and draws attention to Him (Matt. 17:5), the Son is obedient to the will of the Father (John 17:4), and seeks to glorify Him (the Father) in Himself (John 13:31-32), and both the Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit (John 14:26, 15:26), who glorifies the Son (John 16:14). In connection with this unity, there is also an equality. Augustine recognized this when he said: “There is so great an equality in that Trinity, that not only the Father is not greater than the Son, as regards divinity, but neither are the Father and the Son greater than the Holy Spirit” (Augustine, P. Schaff, Ed. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers; Vol. 111. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956, P. 115). In many ways therefore, the unity and equality that is evident in the Trinity serves as an example of the harmony that should be in our life as Christians.
As human persons, we are created in the image and likeness of God and many aspects of our humanity reveal this divine image, notably our ability to perceive God’s presence and enter into a communion with Him and live lives of goodness and love, such as the character of the Trinity. The three divine persons are eternally united with each other in mutual love. They collaborate continually, sharing as one in all their activities. This provides a model for the ideal human community, in which people are united by mutual love, working together in harmonious consensus, with the dignity and equality of each person respected. When as Christians we fight for justice and for human rights, we are specifically acting in the name of the Holy Trinity.
So dearly beloved, our faith in the Triune God should be reflected in a community that radiates harmonious combination of activities from members – starting from the family, the Church and then extending to the larger human society. By so doing, we participate in the very life of God (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) in whose image and likeness we are created.
*Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya*