Sunday, May 22, 2016

Solemnity of the Holy Trinity: Love Comes in 3's

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity. We remind ourselves of this important truth of the faith that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

There are NOT 3 gods, but rather 3 persons who are ONE God or one essence.  For centuries the brightest minds, both within and without the Church have tried to fully comprehend and explain this, but they could not.

God cannot be understood completely by mortals.  Human beings are limited to space, time and matter and can only understand things within the laws and experiences of each.

What human being has experienced infinity in order to define it?  What human being has experienced being all benevolent, all omnipotent, all sapient and all knowing?  There is none.   Human beings are finite creatures with finite minds.
It is important to understand that the Father is not the Son nor the Son the Father.  Moreover, the Father and Son are not the Holy Spirit and vice versa.  Each are distinct Divine persons who are of the same singular Divine substance or essence.

Think of it in this way:  One of western psychology's pioneers and also an atheist, Sigmund Freud believed that human beings have the Super Ego, Ego, and Id which comprises their psyche. Each is distinct but are of one person.  Moreover, human beings have reason, conscience, and self-awareness.  Each are distinct but are of one person. The same with God, but with the difference that each (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) are distinct persons, not attributes of personality as in the aforementioned examples.

There are some sects today who deny the Holy Trinity such as, Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons.  Jehovah's Witnesses even went as far as to altering the Gospel of John 1:1 to read ".. the Word was A god..." which was done to support their idea that Jesus is some sort of a lower god or demi-god.  In Genesis 1:26, God says, "Let US make man in OUR image, to be like US."  The words "US" and "OUR" signify plurality of persons.  God describes Himself as a community of persons.

It sounds confusing, but this shows the awesomeness of God.  God will never be completely understood by any creature.  If any creature understands God completely, then God would not be God. He would be a thing in nature that can be understood.

There is a story about Augustine of Hippo who is a Catholic saint and bishop. He is a well-known philosopher and a celebrated champion of Christian thought. 

Anyhow, one day he was trying to figure out God - in particular the idea of Father Son Holy Spirit as one God - he thought and thought and thought wondering how can God be 3 persons in one - how can God be God. Well, while sleeping he had a dream that he was by the shore. He saw a small child digging a hole in the sand. Once dug, the child took a shell and went to the ocean and took water. He brought it back and poured it into the hole. The child then ran back and repeated the same action. Augustine smiled and went to the child and asked the child, "what are you trying to do?" the child answered, "I am trying to put the ocean in this hole." Augustine smiled again thinking the child said something cute. Augustine replied to the child, "The ocean is vast and immense, there is no way you can put it all into this small hole." The child looked at him smiling and replied, "neither can you put all of God in your mind." At that Augustine woke and realized that no one can truly grasp God. It would be like putting the ocean into a small hole dug in the sand on a beach.  This child is said to have been Augustine's guardian angel.

Today's readings introduce the three Divine Persons. The first reading tells us of the second person of the Blessed Trinity, Jesus.  Jesus was there with the Father before creation existed (John 1:14).  Before the universe was, Jesus was there.  Before the galaxies and planets, including our own were, Jesus was there (John 1:1).  The beloved Son of God, eternally begotten from the Father was always present even before time (Revelation 22:13). Jesus is not this mere human prophet who started a religion, died and turned to dust. He was and is God (John 8:58, Colossians. 2:9). He is one with the Father and has two natures: human and divine.  Jesus is not a demi-god as the Watch Tower or Mormons believe. Jesus is God. He became one of us taking on flesh but not sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). During His time on Earth as a human, He was made to be a "little less than the angels." This means that He was in the form of a human, experiencing everything a human experiences except sin.

The responsorial Psalm today reminds us that God's name is wonderful in all the Earth.  This universe is huge and beautiful. As a student of the sciences, seeing images of the universe always amazed me. Despite the glory of the universe, God pays more attention to man or the human. The Psalmist asks, "What is man that you should be mindful of him?" We should ask ourselves this. Why does God care so much for the human that He became one of us and died on the cross? This puts into perspective the love God has for us. Man is not a byproduct of evolving genes. Instead, man is a willed being created out of love.  By taking flesh, the Son of Man or Jesus lifted up the dignity of the human person (John 3:16).

In the second reading, we are reminded that our faith in God sets us up in the path of justification. This does not mean that faith alone saves (James 2:24). St. Paul is referring to faith in general that is working with grace (1 Corinthians 15:10, Ephesians 3:7). Because of this faith that is nourished by grace and put into action by works, we can "boast in our afflictions." We can put up with pain and suffering; mockery and rejection from the world because deep down we understand what is really going on (2 Corinthians 5:7). God has illuminated our minds and hearts.  This is via the Holy Spirit whose coming we celebrated last Sunday on Pentecost.

Finally in the Gospel, Jesus tells the disciples that the Spirit of Truth will guide them. Jesus did not abandon His Catholic Church (Matthew 28:20).  He and the Father send the third person of the Blessed Trinity to protect her and guide her in truth (John 14:16). This is why it makes no sense for so-called "Traditionalists" to worry whenever Pope Francis says something. The Spirit of Truth is guiding the Church.  If anything happens in the Church regarding how the teachings are presented to the world, then this is the work of the Spirit of Truth.  The Catholic Church is indefectible (1 Timothy 3:15). She cannot fall into apostasy because Jesus promised that 1) The gates of Hell will not prevail and 2) The Spirit of Truth will guide her (Matthew 16:18). We must trust God always.  God is not a liar. The Catholic Church belongs to Him, not us. He takes her on the course He wants, not us.  May we seek the truth so that we can grow in love and grace to one day be united in heaven with our creator who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  May the Holy Trinity, the one and only God be adored and loved always.    

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Glory be to the Father,
And to the Son,
And to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen  

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