HOMILY FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY
THEME: ADOPTING THE TRINITARAN MODEL OF MUTUAL COEXISTENCE
BY: Rev. Fr. Gerald Muoka
HOMILY: R1 – Deut 4:32-34, 39-40
RESP PS – Ps 33:4-6,9,18-20,22
R2 – Rom 8:14-17
GOSPEL – Matt 28:16-20
At a Confirmation in a certain parish, the Archbishop during the interactive session, asked the children to define the Holy Trinity. A little girl zealously raised her hand and answered in a very soft and inaudible tone, “The Holy Trinity is three persons in one God.” The Archbishop, who was rather old and had hearing deficiency, replied, “I didn’t understand what you said. Speak louder!” And the young theologian standing in front of him replied: “Well, Your Excellency, you are not supposed to. The Trinity is a mystery. Nobody understands it.”
Beloved in Christ, today is the solemnity of the Most Blessed Trinity. It is one of the basic doctrines of the Christian faith, yet, shrouded in great mystery for the human mind to conceptualize and comprehend. Kudos to the young theologian in the introit story, who has made the ArchBishop (and us) to understand that, whether we hear it very well or not; whether we understand it well or not, it remains a mystery beyond human comprehension. St Anslem’s formula perfectly captures the process of understanding the Blessed Trinity when it says: _”Fides querens intellectum”_ (Faith that is seeking understand). It can only be grasped through the light of faith and not just reason.
It teaches us that there are three distinct Persons in one God, sharing the same Divine Nature, co-equal and co-eternal. Our mind cannot grasp this doctrine which teaches that 1+1+1 = 1 and not 3. Nevertheless, we believe in this Mystery because Jesus, Who is God, taught it clearly, the Evangelists recorded it, the Fathers of the Church tried to explain it, and the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople defined it as a dogma of Christian Faith.
*BIBLICAL FOUNDATIONS OF THE HOLY TRINITY*
The term “Trinity”, is not explicitly found in the bible. It was first used by
Tertullian, to explain that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are “one in essence – not one in Person.” He was the first to use “Person” and “Substance”, with reference to the Trinity.
Ours is not to exhaust or give a profound explanation on the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity, but to trace the prefigurations and roles of the Three persons of the Blessed Trinity; functioning as a community, as clearly stated in Scripture, both directly, and by implications. Some of them are;
(1) In Gen.1:1, the Hebrew text used Elohim to address God. This rendition of Elohim comes in a plural form of El(God). But it denotes singularity in plurality. It became clearer in v.2, where the Spirit of God was hovering over the water. And in v.3, the creative power of God’s word that took flesh in Jesus was made manifest (Jn.1:3,14).
(2)In Gen.1:26, the scripture captures God not as a monad, but a community; let us create man in our own image and likeness. That “US” is remarkable, and not addressed to the angels, because a creature cannot create, but can discover and procreate.
(3)In Gen.11:7, the confusion at the tower of Babel was aggravated by the community clarion call and response: “come let us go and confuse them”.
(4)Gen.18:2, describes how God visited Abraham in the likeness of 3 men.
(5) At the Annunciation, God the Father sends His angel to Mary, God the Holy Spirit comes upon her, the power of the Most High overshadows her, and God the Son becomes incarnate in her womb.(Lk.1:34-38)
(6) At the baptism of Jesus, the Father’s Voice is heard, and the Holy Spirit appears as a Dove.(Mk.1:8-11)
(7)At the Ascension, the “Missio Ad Gentes” (mission to the world) was commissioned to baptize those who believe in a trinidadian format ~ in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.(Matt.28:19-20)
(8)John, chapters 15–18, are replete with Jesus’ detailed teaching of the role of each Person of the Holy Trinity: God the Father creates, God the Son redeems us and God the Holy Spirit sanctifies us.
*PASTORAL FOUNDATIONS OF HOLY TRINITY(FROM THE CHURCH FATHERS)*
From the pastoral strategies and ingenuity of some church fathers, we could grasps an embodied assimilation of the Blessed Trinity:
(1) St. Patrick, the missionary patron saint of Ireland, used the shamrock (a leaf with trifoliate leaflets), to explain the Holy Trinity. The story goes that one day his friends asked Patrick to explain the Mystery of the Trinity. He looked at the ground and saw shamrocks growing amid the grass at his feet. He picked one up, one of its trifoliate leaves and asked if it were one leaf or three. Patrick’s friends couldn’t answer. The shamrock leaf looked like one but it clearly had three parts. Patrick explained to them: “The mystery of the Holy Trinity – one God in Three Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – is like this, but more complex and unintelligible.”
(2) St. Cyril, the teacher of the Slavs, tried to explain the Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity using the sun as an example. He said, “God the Father is that blazing sun. God the Son is its light and God the Holy Spirit is its heat — but there is only one sun. So, there are three Persons in the Holy Trinity but God is One and indivisible.”
(3) St. John Maria Vianney used to explain Holy Trinity using lighted candles and roses on the altar and water in the cruets. “The flame has color, warmth and shape. But these are expressions of one flame. Similarly, the rose has color, fragrance and shape. But these are expressions of one reality, namely, rose. Water, steam and ice are three distinct expressions of one reality. In the same way one God revealed Himself to us as Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.
*LESSONS OF THE BLESSED TRINITY*
The readings of today’s liturgy, most especially, the second and Gospel readings explain vividly the correlation between the Blessed Trinity, by whose name, the authority to undertake the Mission Ad Gentes was established and reached the utmost bounds of the earth. However, we learn the following from the Trinity:
(1) *LOVE-RELATIONSHIP MODEL OF THE TRINITY.*
The love between the Blessed Trinity as a community should be adopted in our families, relationships, marriages and other institutions of communal undertakings for mutual and fraternal coexistence.
(2) *TEAM SPIRITEDNESS*
(T-Together, E-Everyone A-Achieves M-More) that existed among the Blessed Trinity is phenomenal and worthy of emulation. The roles of creating, redeeming and sanctifying man were realized through the team-spiritedness of the Triune God. When we work together as a team, we become formidable and make giant strides.
(3) *LEAVE THE STAGE WHEN THE OVATION IS STILL HIGH.*
The roles being played by the three persons of the Blessed Trinity are distinct, yet each plays His role and leaves the stage for the other. The Father creates, the Son redeemes and the Spirit sanctifies. In Nigeria, some political criminals has refused to leave the stage for others. We keep recycling criminals and some old fools in administration.
(4) *UNITY IN DIVERSITY*
The distinctiveness of the three persons does not make the persons three Gods, rather one substance and essence _homoousious_ (Ha bu otu na ihe ha ji buru chukwu). The distinctive nature of the Trinity is felt in the roles they play, which unify to facilitate one common goal, “salvation of man. We too, should not allow our differences to breed disunity, rather should be exploited to promote varieties and mutual coexistence.
(5) *EFFICACY OF THE SIGN OF THE CROSS.* (In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit).
All prayers in the Church begin in the Name of the Holy Trinity and end glorifying the Trinity. All Sacraments are administered (we are baptized, confirmed, anointed, our sins are forgiven, our marriage is blessed, and our Bishops, priests and deacons are ordained) in the name of the Holy Trinity. We bless ourselves, and the priest blesses us, in the Name of the Holy Trinity. We should never relent in using the Trinitarian formula given to us by Jesus in today’s Gospel reading to advance God’s Kingdom on earth.
Finally, Thomas Edison, the inventor, who invented the lightbulbs we use today, once remarked: “We don’t know what water is. We don’t know what light is. We don’t know what electricity is. We don’t know what heat is. We have a lot of hypotheses about these things, but that is all. But we don’t let our ignorance about these things deprive us of their use.” The truth of that statement is real. Most of us do not
know how an electric light works, how a telephone or a TV works, but this does not prevent us from using them. Let us try to apply the same common sense to our Faith in the doctrine of the Trinity. We must not have a plethoric knowledge and understanding of the mysterious nature of the Trinity before we believe and adopt it into our belief system.
Most Holy Trinity, Who live in me, I praise You, I worship You, I adore You, and I love You.” May the Son lead us to the Father through the Spirit, to live with the Triune God forever and ever. Amen
(FRANCIS OF ASSISI’S FAVOURITE PRAYER).
*HAPPY TRINITY SUNDAY!*
*FR GERALD MUOKA*
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