YEAR C: HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY
TOPIC: THE TRIUNE GOD
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Gospel: Jn 16:12-15
“For the Salvation of the World”
- The Marian Message (# 547: “For the Salvation of the World”)
a) The Blessed Mother expressed happiness in seeing her beloved sons (bishops and priests) united in prayer and brotherhood. Such has been her ardent desire for all of her children since this kind of unity and brotherhood is a clear reflection of the family of the Most Blessed Trinity, and is the way to realize the triumph of her Immaculate Heart for the salvation of the world (letters b and c).
b) She wants us all to be instruments of Divine Mercy (letter d). She sees with pity all the miseries people endure due to sins and perversion all around (letter f). She likes us to be compassionate with them (letter g), and seek out those who are lost (letter h).
c) Above all, she wants us to be the new heart of the new Church (letter j and m), faithful and loving, so that she can be made present in the world (letter k). This will be done by loving all, supporting the Pope, and helping priests who are suffering and those deceived by the enemy.
d) In the end we will witness in joy the splendor of holiness and the fullness of the unity of the Church, the beacon and center of the unity of all peoples all over the world (letter n).
e) The Blessed Mother also wishes all of us to live in the heart of the Most Holy Trinity where she dwells as her habitual dwelling place (letter o). This reveals the truth that Mary is Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. With her, we can be assured that we will also dwell with her in the Heart of the Most Holy Trinity. The salvation of the world simply means the triumph of Divine Mercy and the triumph of her Immaculate Heart that will surely lead to the fullness of the reign of the God in the world and the full incorporation of the whole mankind into the family of God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
- Important Information on the Most Holy Trinity
a) The ancient religions are Judaism, Islam and Christianity. These are religions because they believe in one God (monotheism). Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and the like are nature-worship disciplines only. But Christianity goes deeper than Islam and Judaism. It believes not only in one God, but also in the three Persons of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Triune God). This is the only religion that believes in One God and three Divine Persons (Trinitarian). From the beginning of the Church, she has already professed that the “truly definitive mark of our Christianity is faith in the triune God” (Pope Benedict XVI).
As Christians, we have the blessings and sacramental celebrations using the Trinitarian formula. It is also the formula that we use to bless ourselves with the sign of the cross. When we make the sign of the cross, we profess our faith in the One and Triune God. So we should do it with full knowledge and reverence; it should be done prayerfully with the motivation of renewing this most basic element of our faith.
Pope Benedict XVI said: “How often have we made the sign of the cross, invoking without really adverting to it, the name of the triune God? In its original meaning, the sign of the cross was, each time it was made, a renewal of our baptism, a repetition of the words by which we became Christians, and an assimilation into our personal life of what was given us in baptism without our cooperation or reflection. Water was poured over us and, at the same time, the words were spoken: ‘I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’ The Church makes us Christians by calling on the name of the Trinitarian God.”
b) The Catechism o the Catholic Church teaches that “by sending his only Son and the Spirit of Love in the fullness of time, God has revealed his innermost secret: God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange” (no. 221). So, this mystery teaches us who God really is. And at the same time, we come to know and discover the truth of who we really are. Pope John Paul II said: “In the communion of grace with the Trinity, man’s ‘living area’ is broadened and raised up to the supernatural level of divine life. Man lives in God and by God.”
c) The Mystery of the Most Blessed Trinity is the most ineffable mystery of all. It is all about the nature of God. There is no way we can fully understand this mystery. We should be thankful that Jesus, the God-made-man, revealed this to us. That is why we know something about this mystery, but that is just the “tip of the iceberg”. The exact theological terminologies are: The Father begot the Son (the only-begotten Son of God), and from the Father and the Son proceeds the Holy Spirit (procession).
d) The terms “Father” and “Son” are relational. This does not mean that the Father existed before the Son, and that the Father is greater than the Son. The three Divine Persons are equal in dignity, power and majesty. Since God is eternal, there is no Person that existed before the other Persons. No one is ahead or behind. The three Persons existed even before time and before anything else. Remember that time came into existence only when the world was created. (Illustration: a woman can only be called mother if she gives birth to a child. The term “mother” is relational, that is, in relation to the child. We do not call a woman “mother” if she has no child. The same is true with a man being called father. A man is called “husband” if he has a wife, and vice versa. That is why in the Most Blessed Trinity, God the Father is called “Father” in relation to the “Son”, and this is a relationship of perfect love.)
e) It must be clear that when we say that the Father is the “First Person”, the Son is the “Second Person” and the Holy Spirit is the “Third Person”, this is just according to our manner of understanding. This does not mean that there is the order of priority or seniority among the three Divine Persons. They are definitely distinct from each other, but they are co-substantial with each other and are equal in power, dignity and majesty. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.
f) There is the famous story about St. Augustine. He was planning to write a book on the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. One day, while he was walking along the beach thinking about this topic, he saw a little boy getting water from the sea and pouring it into the small hole on the shore. He asked the boy’ “What are you doing?” The boy said: “I am putting the whole ocean into this hole.” “That’s impossible!” St. Augustine exclaimed. “That hole is so small, and the ocean is so wide and vast. It is impossible for that small hole to contain the ocean.” But the boy looked at him in the eyes and said:” But what you are trying to do is most impossible. You are trying to understand the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Your mind is so small and limited to contain this infinitely profound mystery.” Then the boy suddenly vanished. St. Augustine realized it was Jesus in the form of a little boy who talked to him.
g) Although it is impossible to fully understand this mystery, somehow we can have clearer understanding of it by using some allegories or imageries, which of course, are quite imperfect and limited. Nevertheless, they can be very helpful to us. These allegories came from saints and mystics.
h) First image: a man looking at his own image on the mirror. The image is the man himself; it is the man beholding himself. The man loves his own image on the mirror. But the man is not the image; they are two distinct beings. The man is the Father; the image is the Son. The Son is the exact and perfect image of the Father; He and the Father are one. He who sees the Son sees the Father. Yet the Father and the Son are distinct from each other. The Father and the Son love each other. This love between the Father and the Son is so perfect that it gives rise (“proceeds from”) to another Person, the Holy Spirit.
i) Second Image: sun, rays and heat. The Father is the sun. The rays that come from the sun is the Son. The heat that is produced from the sun and its rays is the Holy Spirit.
j) Third image: man, guitar and sound (most imperfect image). The man is the Father. The guitar is the Son. The sound that is produced by the guitar and the man playing it is the Holy Spirit.
- Points for Reflection
a) The four Gospels mention the three Divine Persons. But there is no direct mention of the term Most Holy Trinity. Instead they all insist on one important truth about God: God is love. This is truly precise because the key towards the understanding of the Trinity is love. It is the key to the unity of the three Divine Persons. How come that the three Persons are one God? If it is one, it is one; if it is three, it is three. How did it happen that three become one, and one is three? The answer is love. This is true in our own experience. When a man and a woman, though totally different and distinct individuals, are in love, they become one. The woman loses her surname and they are called Mr. and Mrs.. In marriage, Jesus said: “From now on you are not anymore two but one; what God has joined together let no man separate.” If the limited and imperfect love of the man and woman makes them one, then it is but logical to conclude that the perfect love of Father, Son and Holy Spirit makes them also perfectly one. Love unites. So love is the essence of the One and Triune God. There is unity and trinity in God because God is love.
b) True love is not just a feeling or emotion. The only description of love is total self-giving: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…” Yet this giving is intended for a purpose: “…so that those who believe in Him might be saved.” God loves us for the most sublime purpose: salvation. In order to save us because of His love for us, He gave us His only-begotten Son. That is the essence of love. We see this in people who truly love. They are ready to sacrifice themselves and even offer their lives so that others may live and be saved. Love should lead to salvation. That is true love. And the Apostle St. John said: “Children, let us love, not in word or speech but in deed and truth” (1Jn 3:18). “No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us” (1Jn 4:12). “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him (1Jn 4:16b). So when we truly love according to the command and example of Jesus (”A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another as I have loved you.”), we become members of the family of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We become clear images of God. That is the only genuine mark of a Christian and a child of God: Love. This is the single most important ingredient for us being “created in the image and likeness of God.” This was lived by the early Christians, and as a result, people said: “See how the Christians love each other!”
c) The three Divine Persons are distinct from each other. We assign to each of them roles: The Father is the Creator, the Son is the Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit is the Paraclete/Sanctifier. Although this is correct, we cannot say that the Father is not involved in redemption done by the Son, or the Son is not part of the work of creation, and so forth. This is quite incorrect. This would result in dividing the Trinity into three parts. Rather, what should be emphasized is the unity of the Persons because God is love. The three Persons are only one God. Creation, Redemption and Sanctifying are functions of the same God, and they intertwine, influence and complement each other. St. Paul used the image of the body, with many parts but still only one body. For instance, the action of the hand is not attributed to the hand alone but to the whole body. It is the whole person doing the whole action. The credit goes to the whole body, the entire person.
d) The Trinity is the perfect model for our communities, parishes, and especially our own families. The trend of the world now is towards division and becoming self-sufficient. Divorce and marital separations are rampant. In search for economic stability, families are divided. The children are taught to live independently as soon as possible. The prospect is never encouraging. Lacking the basic foundation of a strong family, young people go through life without clear direction and stability. One broken family leads to multiple broken families in the next generation. This is not according to the will and plan of God. He wants us to live in family, united in love, peace and harmony. The family is supposed to be the clear and concrete reflection of the family of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is very clear in the example of the Holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Remember: the only key to this is Love.
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