7 June 2007. Solemnity of the Most Blessed Trinity
Deuteronomy 4, 32-40; Psalm 33; Rom 8, 14-17; Matthew 28, 16-20
Just as we begin with a sign of the cross, an invocation to the Blessed Trinity, we also greet one another in the Trinity, with the words of St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” Thus to begin and end with the sign of the cross, and to greet one another who belongs to the koinonia or community or fellowship, we profess our belief in One God in Three Persons.
But the Trinity itself is something that puzzles us and for many priests, religious and catechists alike, this is one thing difficult to explain to the common people. Every time we use an image such as the candle that cannot be what it is unless you have the stem, the wick and the fire, these images will always be inadequate. What many of us have done, including the best theologians in the world and in history, is to present different angles of this mystery, but not a complete and clear explanation of what it is. This is what a mystery is anyways! And true, in the Church’s understanding of the word, mystery, it is a truth that can be understood but not totally. Its meaning will always be inexhaustible. Take for example love. We have produced innumerable literature about love, but not one claims to have articulated its full meaning. We are continually fascinated by it, but there is always something unique that we discover about love thus, we do not stop from reflecting on it. But we do know what love is — especially when we have been in love. I guess what poses as a challenge to us is not to try to fully comprehend it, but to accept it: the way we accept the reality of love, hope, peace, and friendship. How many of us have asked why among the bevy of girls/boys around us, we choose this particular person and not the rest to be forever friends or partners in life? We accept but we don’t try to comprehend.
Allow me thus to reflect on some aspects of the Trinity. We know that God sent Jesus into the world to save us. For the early Christians it is an intimate relationship of God’s nature or self and his expression of this self in the form of an act in our concrete life. So it is God’s nature to love; Love is Himself. His expression finds concrete action through Jesus who saves us. Jesus who came to the earth and become one like us. In the Exodus, God’s name is YHWH who is a “merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.” Theologically, it contains three important descriptions of God. First, He is merciful. The Hebrew of mercy comes from ‘womb’ and suggests God’s intimate attachment to us. Second, He is kind or ‘steadfast in love’ as some would translate. It reveals how strong God’s love and commitment for us. Third, He is faithful, meaning, despite our sinfulness, God makes us trustworthy. The grace of mercy, kindness or steadfast love and fidelity are not just given to those who are ‘faithful’, but are given to all. When this revelation of God’s nature was given to Moses, it was after the golden calf incident. It is to these people that God showed mercy, kindness and faithfulness.
Thus when we reflect on the Trinity, we focus on the God who does not give up on us. That God will continually grace us with his kindness, mercy and fidelity as St. Paul say in our greeting. The love of God is given to sinners and worst sinners like us. That the fellowship of the Holy Spirit is given to all members of the community who does not deserve God’s faithfulness, but through His word, He made us worthy of Him. Isn’t it that we always find ourselves unworthy of the genuine love people shower us, but what makes us worthy is not our achievement, but their choosing to love us. We are made worthy of God, not because we earned it or we are entitled to it, but because He said so. Before communion, we express this unworthiness to receive Jesus: so we invoke God to “only say the words, and we shall be healed” — meaning, His words make us worthy to receive Him.
And thus, what is then asked of us? In the realization of God’s grace, love and fellowship as the Trinity, we bow down in adoration and reverence. St. Ignatius said that we are meant to praise, reverence and serve God. And renewing this lived truth, we commit ourselves to build a community or koinonia in love. A community that is inclusive, whose arms are open even to people who are different from ourselves. Paul said that we should “mend our ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, and live in peace.” When we live in peace, we mirror who God is.