Bridging us from the great 50-day season of Easter to Ordinary Time, are a couple of significant feast days in the Church’s liturgical calendar. One of these is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity or Trinity Sunday, which we celebrate today. In the eyes of the Church, “a solemnity is a feast day of the highest rank, celebrating a mystery of faith.” In other words, a solemnity is kind of a big deal.
The Trinity is kind of a big deal too. And it is indeed a mystery of our faith. The Trinity is an essential doctrine of Christianity, to the point that to deny the Trinity is to deny Christianity. Yet understanding the Trinity is difficult to say the least. How can these three distinct persons exist in one being? It is, as is much about faith, a mystery that one accepts without fully understanding. Much like God, eh?
What the Trinity speaks to me most profoundly about is relationship. The Trinity is three persons: God the Father, Jesus his Son, and the Holy Spirit, each of who is fully God. Three; yet there is only one God. In the first reading from Deuteronomy, we are told, “the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath: there is no other.” Somehow, these three persons are one. God the Father creates; God the Son teaches, heals, forgives; God the Holy Spirit guides, strengthens our gifts. Each is God, and God is One. This Triune God is in relationship with each another and with us from the beginning of our conception – and before – with us “always” as we are reminded in today’s Gospel.
Years ago, during a retreat, I heard: “We have Jesus Christ who is the Son of God. That Jesus loves the Father, and the Father loves the Son is easily understood. The name of the love they share is the Holy Spirit. This love always overflows, because it is of the Spirit, which led to the creation and salvation of humanity.”
Pope Francis says “the very mystery of the Trinity reminds us that we have been created in the image of that divine communion, and we cannot achieve fulfillment or salvation purely by our own efforts.” (EG178) It is God’s encompassing and unending love and mercy, which bring salvation. The best way to experience that is through the love and mercy of others.
This relationship of three in one, therefore calls us into relationship – with others and with God. Matthew’s Gospel says we are to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” This element of the Rite of Baptism is so crucial that unless those words are used, the Baptism is not valid. The Church teaches that Baptism begins our relationship with God. We are told by Jesus to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them…”
Trinity Sunday, as does the Most Holy Trinity, helps us to rediscover or, if necessary, discover, what this fundamental relationship, which is a cornerstone of our faith, means. It is complex. It will never be fully understood. It is difficult to explain.
As are all relationships. As is love.
However, perhaps this year, there will be a brief moment of breaking through the mystery of the Trinity – when we look at someone we love deeply, maybe – and for now … that will be enough.
Office of Faith Development
Archdiocese of Moncton