Jun 2, 2012

The Most Holy Trinity: All for one and one for all!

The Most Holy Trinity

Deut 4: 32-34, 39-40
Rm 8: 14-17
Mt 28: 16-20

French author Alexandre Dumas penned a famous novel in 1844 about three colorful royal guards of the French King Louis XIII entitled The Three Musketeers.  Their adventures are legendary as they fight and fence their way across France and England with a young man by the name of Comte d'Artagnan. It is clear they recognized the value of a common purpose and mission and we hear that in their cry often stated as they gallop off on horses with swords raised:  “All for one and one for all!”

On this Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity we mark the foundation belief of Christianity.  That God is three in One – equality of persons (as St. Thomas Aquinas teaches) known as Father, Son and Holy Spirit with a unity in action. The “all for one and one for all” maxim may give us some understanding of our belief as we profess faith in this three in one God.

We traditionally see God the Father as Creator, the Son as Savior and the Spirit as the living presence of God which sustains us and protects the Church.  As we profess in our Creed each Sunday: “. . . God from God, light from light, true God from true God . . . consubstantial with the Father through him (Jesus) all things were made . . . he is seated at the right hand of the Father .  . . I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son . . .”

Our Creed proclaims a unity of purpose and mind; a unity of action – “All for one and one for all.” In fact as we begin the Creed we state: “I believe in one God . . .” Though we speak of three persons, we would never proclaim: “I believe in one gods . . .” Because it is “three yet one, one yet three.”

Clear as mud?  Well our God language is always one of “mystery” or “ineffability” or “eternal glory.” God is first and foremost for us a mystery beyond our human comprehension.  The Catholic Catechism states: “The Trinity is a mystery of faith in the strict sense, one of the ‘mysteries that lie hidden in God, which can never be known unless they are revealed by God.”  (CC 237). St. Augustine famously said: “If you understood him, it would not be God.”

Where does this leave us? With some sort of divine puzzle or riddle meant to frustrate our modern scientific mind which is uncomfortable with any claim not verified through material evidence?  “Sooner or later, we’ll figure this out“or “If we have no certifiable proof, it does not exist,” might be the present day technology based mantra. Yet, it seems to me that while we may not be able to comprehend the great mystery of the “Godhead” we can experience at least a reflection of his presence among us.  The proof of his existence is found in persons, places and things. In the wonder and complexity of creation, of human life, and in all that we see, feel and touch.

This God, though a distance from us, desires to communicate with us.  Biblical history is the story of God’s gradual revelation. He longs to come out of the shadows and speak to us the desire of his heart – which is love itself. The ultimate expression of this love was the incarnation – God made human among us in the person of Jesus the Christ.  In Christ we see God’s desire and invitation.  That “all may be one” as we hear Jesus pray at the Last Supper from the Gospel of John. 

“Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” (Jn 14:10).  It is not that difficult to recognize through whom this great mystery of God was revealed to us by God himself in the person of Jesus. In essence, in Jesus God lifted the veil off of his face.  

So, Christianity is a revealed religion.  God reveals his hidden plan through Law, Prophets and his own Son in our midst.  In the year 324 a.d. the gathering of bishops at Nicea declared the doctrine of the Trinity once for all.  They responded to false teaching that the Son and Spirit were merely creatures. The Council Fathers forever set in granite, as it were, the truth of the Trinity, which we proclaim each Sunday in the Creed.

The end result of all this, of course, is not only what we believe but more importantly how we live in response to God’s great revelation.  The first question, of Baltimore Catechism fame, is “Why did God make me?” Those of us old enough to have been formed by the good Sisters learned the proper answer to that question is: “To know him, to love him, and to serve him in this world and to be happy with him in the next.”  (Do I get a holy card for remembering?).

As priest for these 30 plus years, I have seen that truth lived out time and again. The mission of the Church is given by Jesus in the Gospel today: “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you . . . I am with you always until the end of the age.” (Mt 28: 19-20).

The Church offers us knowledge of God and once we know of God, we learn to love him and once we love him we feel compelled to serve him in his name. All of the ministries of education, faith formation, prayer, worship, service to the sick, poor and disadvantaged must be rooted in this great truth.  They mirror the very person of God who has revealed himself to us as Lord and Savior; as breath and life. As priest, the dedication, holiness and excitement of the layity inspires me to do no less.  In this way our faith, by its very nature and God presence, creates a sense of community among us. We become a kind of “all for one and one for all.” The very purpose of our Eucharitic celebration is to recognize the unity we share in Christ Jesus.

To know God, to love God, and to serve God is a simple yet challenging plan for each of our lives.  In the name of the Father, and of the Son, andof the Holy Spirit. And, the retirement benefits are great on this one! 
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 tru 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.
(Collect of Sunday)