Sunday, May 30, 2021

The Holy Trinity - Three in One

 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 is 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 is of one person.  Moreover, human beings have a reason, conscience, and self-awareness.  Each is distinct but is 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 that 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 a 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 person of the Blessed Trinity or The Father is introduced in the first reading. In the first reading, Moses is telling the people of the one true God YHWH (Exodus 8:10, Deuteronomy 4:39,2 Samuel 7:22, 1 Chronicles 17:20). He begins to ask the people if they recall anything so great to ever happen before and if they have ever known of a people who heard the voice of God or any god speaking from fire or venturing out to rescue them from another nation by using tests, signs, wonders, and war.  He, of course, is referring to the events of the Exodus (Exodus 13:21-22, Exodus chapters 7-20). Moses was reminding the people then and us today of this one true God. Mankind has formulated all kinds of designations and descriptions for deities trying to define the One God; however, these deities never spoke to them nor went out to rescue them from powerful nations. While these people had the right idea that a Supreme Being exists, they got the name and descriptions wrong.  Only one God has done what Moses described, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, etc (Exodus 3:6, Acts 3:13).   Moreover, some atheists and skeptics claim the story of Exodus is fiction. However, we have evidence such as the text "Ipuwer Papyrus" which describes the ten plagues that fell over Egypt which Moses reminded us of in today's readings.  God is indeed an awesome God. He is faithful and our Father (Deuteronomy 7:9, 1 Corinthians 1:9, Isaiah 64:8, Matthew 6:9).

In the responsorial Psalm, we read of the greatness of God.  His word is upright and trustworthy. God is not a liar (Numbers 23:19, Romans 3:4).  He is fair and just (2 Thessalonians 1:6). The word of God is what brings things to existence (Genesis 1:3).  This "logos" keeps our universe in existence (Hebrews 11:3, Colossians 1:17). We as His children must wait on God and trust in Him for He is our help and our shield (Psalm 91).  His Spirit gives us life, protects us, and guides us as we read in the second reading.

The second reading focuses on the third person of the Blessed Trinity whose coming we celebrated last Sunday on Pentecost. This Spirit reminds us that we are sons of God, not slaves (Galatians 3:26). We are able to call God "Abba, Father!"  We are united with the Blessed Trinity in the Spirit, not to be God, but to be sons and daughters of God (1 John 3:2).  This Spirit is our guide and our courage who gives us gifts that allow us to grow in the Holy Trinity and be witnesses to this union of love to the world (John 16:13, 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, Ephesians 4:7-13, Romans 12:3-8).

Finally, in the Gospel, we read of Jesus' last words to the disciples before the Ascension.  He reminds them that all power in heaven and earth was given to Him because He is the Word of God (John 1:1).  Jesus instructs them to go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Here we read Jesus dictate to His disciples the persons who constitute God. This is a truth that can never change because it comes from Christ who is the Truth (John 14:6).  God is One in three Divine distinct Persons.  Some atheists tweet around this meme of Christ praying at the Garden of Gethsemane and next to it they write that Christ is praying to Himself and asking Himself to spare Himself from what He is about to go through.  This, of course, shows the ignorance of many atheists who do not understand the Holy Trinity, among many other things.  Our job is not to try to understand this, but to trust this triune God who created us and loves us so much that the second person of this Trinity came, took on flesh, suffered, and died for all of us (John 3:16).  We must trust this God who rescues us from oppression as He did in the Exodus and who sends us His Holy Spirit to remind us of what Christ taught and guide us.  Again, no one can truly understand the Holy Trinity using man's knowledge (1 Corinthians 2:16, Romans 11:34).  We can understand the Holy Trinity with love because God is love (1 John 4:8).  As Catholics, we must go out and evangelize reminding the world of the One God in three Divine Persons.   

God is always with us even in these trying times with the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.  It may seem like God abandon us or just simply does not care, but that is not so.  He has been with us since day one and will continue to be with us until the end when the good are weeded from the bad and those who rejected Him will get their wish of existing without feeling connected to God for eternity.        

Readings: The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity | USCCB
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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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