SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY
Jesus said to his disciples: "I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you." - Jn 16:12-15
Our faith is full of mystery. There are many things we are asked to believe by faith, which our own reasoning could never reveal to us. One example is the Eucharist. In the sixth chapter of John's gospel Jesus tells the gathered crowd over and over again in the most emphatic way, "Truly, truly, unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you will have no life in you." What are we to make of this radical statement? Most of the crowd left. Peter and the other apostles remained. Even though they did not understand what Jesus meant by this teaching, they had faith. They trusted Jesus. "Lord, to whom would we go?" Peter tells Christ. "You have the words to eternal life."
We are like Peter today. We are asked to have faith. A scientist in a lab could examine the Eucharist under a microscope all day long and find nothing there but bread and wine. Our reason alone would never lead us to believe that there is anything special about it. But Jesus said, "This is my body," and "this is the chalice of my blood." And so we believe -- not because we perceive with our senses that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of our God, but because we trust in the one who tells us, "This is my body."
Jesus Himself is a similar mystery. Those in Galilee who saw him, worked with him, lived down the road from him, would not have seen anything with their eyes that would have led them to believe he was anything other than an ordinary man. Our best doctors today could give Jesus a thorough physical and find nothing in their examinations except for a human being. Yet we believe he is God incarnate, the maker of the universe, eternal and omnipotent. This is not a fact subject to the scientific method that we can prove or disprove. It is a matter of faith.
Today is a special day set aside in the calendar of the Church to honor the Holy Trinity. In truth, we celebrate the Trinity at each Mass, and whenever we pray in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. How often do we recite those words? At baptisms, when we cross ourselves, when we pray the Glory Be, whenever we gather as Christians we do so in the name of the Trinity.
The Church teaches, because Christ revealed it, that God exists as a Trinity of Persons united in a single being. The Father is God, Jesus the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. And there is one God. This is not a contradiction. We are not saying that there are three Gods and one God at the same time. We are not asked to believe anything contrary to reason. What is one in God is one thing (essence, or being), and what is three in God is another (person). This is not self-contradictory and so is not against reason, but it is above reason. The wisest of our philosophers could ponder the nature of God for a lifetime and come to understand many things about the maker of the universe, but not this. Nothing in our human experience would lead us to deduce the Trinity.
We don't know how this could be. In our experience individual persons each have their own unique existence, and so we simply do not understand the concept of three persons sharing one existence. But, like the Eucharist, it is neither required nor expected that we understand. It is enough that we trust.
We have been given a special gift. We have been given a privileged glimpse into the inner life of God. Jesus has pulled back the curtain of heaven just a little bit and allowed us to have a peek. What we see inside is mind blowingly fantastic. It is nothing we could have expected. It is a mystery, one in which we are called to participate more and more as we grow in sanctity.
God exists as a community of Persons. This means God's life is relationship; God's life is love. This God is the author of our lives and we are made in His image. Mediate today upon the beautiful mystery of the Holy Trinity and ask God to help you to see the opportunities for trinitarian love in your own life.
WCU Catholic Campus Ministry
Matthew Newsome, MTh, campus minister
(828)293-9374 | POB 2766, Cullowhee NC 28723