Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. Our gospel reading is the conclusion of the gospel of Matthew when Jesus missioned the apostles to “Go out to all the world and baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” He then ascended. This final worldly act has been called the Great Commission. This gospel reading affirms the truth of the Trinity, an essential mystery of faith, one God in three persons.
A mystery in the Church can only be believed in faith because it is not able to be fully explained or understood in our limited humanness. We can accept it because it has been articulated through the Spirit guided Church Jesus instituted. We will declare our belief of it again in a few moments when we profess the Creed.
A 12 year old boy was riding a train when it passed a Catholic Church. He removed his hat and made the sign of the cross, as once was the tradition, one we perhaps ought to renew for Jesus is present here. A man nearby said to him, “you must be a Catholic. What do you know of your catechism?” “Sir,” the boy replied, “I learned the principal mysteries.” “And will you tell me what is the Holy Trinity?” “Sir, it is the mystery of one God in three persons, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” “You believe that, do you? People should only believe what they understand.” “Do you believe nothing you do not understand?” asked the boy. “I do not. No intelligent person does.” “Will you tell me then sir why your little finger moves when you want it to?” “Because I will it to move.” “But your ears won’t move when you will them, why is that?” Taken aback, the man responded, “nonsense little boy, you are too young to be teaching me.” We are never too old to learn and accept the truth as revealed by Christ.
Sadly many in our day believe only what they think they understand thereby missing God’s loving embrace reflected in the mystery of the Trinity. It shows in the breakdown of families, the lack of commitment, the use of violence as a means to solve problems, the disrespect for life and for one another, and the use of government power to restrict God-give freedoms.
The truth of the mystery of the Holy Trinity is that God the Father loved us into being. It is by God’s plan that each of us was created. God loves his creation, that life, each of you. How sad and sinful it is when man interferes with God’s creative love through abortion, assisted suicide, euthanasia and other life taking actions.
Out of that love and in recognition of our human sinfulness, the Father sent the Son to be with us, to point the way for us, to redeem us. He lived as we live though without sin, suffered as we suffer, died as we will die, and rose, leaving us example, moral standards, the Church and the promise of better tomorrow. How sad it is when Christ’s love and mercy are not taken advantage of or mocked. It is others loss.
Out of that love and sacrifice, God the Father with the Son sent the Holy Spirit with his gifts to be with us always, to encourage us, strengthen us, to firm up our resolve, to give us stability in the storms of life. How sad it is when the Holy Spirit’s consoling presence is not recognized and loneliness rules in hearts.
A child wrote this letter: “Dear God. I don’t ever feel alone since I found out about you.” When we accept the mystery of the Trinity, knowing that we cannot fully explain it but that we can embrace it, we need never feel alone even in the uncertainties and tragedies of life.
Sometimes as we face the frailties of our humanity and the difficulties of everyday life unlike that little child we can feel alone, wondering where is God is all this. Our readings suggest how we might reignite closeness to God and be reassured. In the first reading from Deuteronomy Moses urges the Israelites to look back over their lives and reflect on their history. There they will see the proof that God is real and they are uniquely loved. In the 2nd reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans, he reminds us that through baptism we have become adopted children of God, no longer outsiders but members of the family of God. In the Gospel reading Jesus assured the Apostles and us that he is with us until the end of time.
How often we make the sign of the cross, invoking the Trinity, without really contemplating the meaning of that powerful gesture. One spiritual writer suggested how we might make this gesture into a beautiful meditation. When we say “in the name of the Father”, add mentally “who created me in his image and for heaven.” When we say “and of the Son”, mentally add “who has redeemed me by His Blood, with so much love.” When we say “and of the Holy Spirit” add, “who has sanctified me and adopted me as a child of God.” Then making the sign of the cross is not simply a routine gesture but a prayer of thanksgiving and of hope.
A lady named Mary was with great vigor declared that she believed in Jesus only. One day she saw a catechism in the home of a friend. She began to read it so she could refute what Catholics believe. Slowly her motivation turned from skepticism to curiosity and then after further reading to desiring to know more. After doing so she declared, “If this is what Catholics believe I want to be Catholic.” She was received into the Church and became among the many convert evangelizers. When a friend shocked at her conversion asked, what ever happened to Jesus only, her response was: “I still have him. Only now I have taken on the Father and the Holy Spirit too.” And so have all of us whenever we make the sign of the cross.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Amen, I believe.