Saturday, May 29, 2010

Trinity Sunday Homily

Trinity Sunday, Year C

    The teaching is fairly simple on the face of it: we believe in one God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit: 1 God, 3 persons. Though it is simple, it is hard to comprehend, in fact we never fully comprehend this mystery. For us personhood and individuality go hand in hand: every person is also a separate substance. But, when it comes to God, this is not the case. Rather, God is one substance, but three persons in a loving communion of persons. This is the teaching, but where does it come from? When I was in the seminary I had the good fortune to take a full 3 credit course on the Trinity. During this course I was able to learn exactly how this doctrine has unfolded in the history of humanity.

We begin with the faith of the people of Israel, who, beginning with Abraham, believed in only one God. In the face of the polytheism of the ancient world, Israel came to know the one true God. This was not a discovery of reason, rather God revealed himself to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. This one God continued to be in relationship with his people, speaking to Moses in the burning bush and face to face on the mountain. He continued to guide his people through the words of his holy prophets. Christianity is based upon the faith of the people of Israel. So, we inherited this faith, this revelation the God is one and that there is only one God. The gods of the heathens are naught! They don't even exist. So Judaism is a monotheistic faith, and so is Christianity.

However, the birth of Jesus does change things. It doesn't really change God! We hear in the first reading that the Wisdom of God was with God from the beginning. Since the early days of the Church, Christians have seen the Wisdom of the Old Testament as a type referring to Christ, who is the Word, the Logos, of God. So Jesus, the divine word, existed for all time, even before the incarnation. Yet, when God becomes Man it furthers the revelation of the nature of God. God reveals more about himself to us. We maintain our faith in the unity of God: God is one. But Jesus is God! Not only that, but the Father sends us the Spirit through the Son. Last week we celebrated Pentecost, so it is fitting that we celebrate Trinity Sunday on the following Sunday, since the coming of the Holy Spirit is the last revelation of the mystery of the Trinity.

So this is how we arrive at the teaching of God as Trinity. We inherit the faith of the Old Testament, which held that God is one. The life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus reveal to us the Son. And with the coming of the Holy Spirit the revelation of the mystery is complete. There is one God, who is the Father who sends the Son so to give the Holy Spirit. God is one, but three persons.

Like I mentioned above, I had a 3 credit course to explore this teaching. It is well worth your while to study and explore this wonderful doctrine. You might not have the chance to take a class on the Trinity, but you can turn to books for help, especially the Catechism. Every Catholic family should have one of these books on its shelf. It is certainly true that the Trinity is a mystery. But, this doesn't mean that we cannot say anything about the Trinity. Rather, it means that we can say many true things about the Trinity even though we can never get to the fullness of the Truth about God's existence. So, it is important to study and pray as a way to bolster our faith.

In fact, we do this all the time, without realizing it. The liturgy itself is like a great catechism lesson on the Holy Trinity. One thing that can be difficult about the Mass is that we don't see the unity of the Mass. But, the whole Mass is a prayer to the Father in heaven, where we glorify God the Father, in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Notice that most of the prayers of the Mass are addressed to the Father, through the Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. This should be a reflection of our whole lives. The sacrifice of the Mass teaches us not only the Trinity, but also how we are to live! Our lives should be directed to the glory of God, through our communion with Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.


  1. this is a wonderful reminder of the meaning of the Trinity. thank you

  2. If you are interested in some new ideas on the Trinity and religious pluralism, please check out my website at It previews my book, which has not been published yet and is still a “work-in-progress.” Your constructive criticism would be very much appreciated.

    My thesis is that an abstract version of the Trinity could be Christianity’s answer to the world need for a framework of pluralistic theology.

    In a constructive worldview: east, west, and far-east religions present a threefold understanding of One God manifest primarily in Muslim and Hebrew intuition of the Deity Absolute, Christian and Krishnan Hindu conception of the Universe Absolute Supreme Being; and Shaivite Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist apprehension of the Destroyer (meaning also Consummator), Unconditioned Absolute, or Spirit of All That Is and is not. Together with their variations and combinations in other major religions, these religious ideas reflect and express our collective understanding of God, in an expanded concept of the Holy Trinity.

    The Trinity Absolute is portrayed in the logic of world religions, as follows:

    1. Muslims and Jews may be said to worship only the first person of the Trinity, i.e. the existential Deity Absolute Creator, known as Allah or Yhwh, Abba or Father (as Jesus called him), Brahma, and other names; represented by Gabriel (Executive Archangel), Muhammad and Moses (mighty messenger prophets), and others.

    2. Christians and Krishnan Hindus may be said to worship the first person through a second person, i.e. the experiential Universe or "Universal” Absolute Supreme Being (Allsoul or Supersoul), called Son/Christ or Vishnu/Krishna; represented by Michael (Supreme Archangel), Jesus (teacher and savior of souls), and others. The Allsoul is that gestalt of personal human consciousness, which we expect will be the "body of Christ" (Mahdi, Messiah, Kalki or Maitreya) in the second coming – personified in history by Muhammad, Jesus Christ, Buddha (9th incarnation of Vishnu), and others.

    3. Shaivite Hindus, Buddhists, and Confucian-Taoists seem to venerate the synthesis of the first and second persons in a third person or appearance, ie. the Destiny Consummator of ultimate reality – unqualified Nirvana consciousness – associative Tao of All That Is – the absonite* Unconditioned Absolute Spirit “Synthesis of Source and Synthesis,”** who/which is logically expected to be Allah/Abba/Brahma glorified in and by union with the Supreme Being – represented in religions by Gabriel, Michael, and other Archangels, Mahadevas, Spiritpersons, etc., who may be included within the mysterious Holy Ghost.

    Other strains of religion seem to be psychological variations on the third person, or possibly combinations and permutations of the members of the Trinity – all just different personality perspectives on the Same God. Taken together, the world’s major religions give us at least two insights into the first person of this thrice-personal One God, two perceptions of the second person, and at least three glimpses of the third.

    * The ever-mysterious Holy Ghost or Unconditioned Spirit is neither absolutely infinite, nor absolutely finite, but absonite; meaning neither existential nor experiential, but their ultimate consummation; neither fully ideal nor totally real, but a middle path and grand synthesis of the superconscious and the conscious, in consciousness of the unconscious.

    ** This conception is so strong because somewhat as the Absonite Spirit is a synthesis of the spirit of the Absolute and the spirit of the Supreme, so it would seem that the evolving Supreme Being may himself also be a synthesis or “gestalt” of humanity with itself, in an Almighty Universe Allperson or Supersoul. Thus ultimately, the Absonite is their Unconditioned Absolute Coordinate Identity – the Spirit Synthesis of Source and Synthesis – the metaphysical Destiny Consummator of All That Is.

    For more details, please see:

    Samuel Stuart Maynes