The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
June 12, 2022 — Year C
Readings: Prv 8:22-31 / Ps 8 / Rom 5:1-5 / Jn 16:12-15
by Rev. Mr. Mark De La Hunt, Permanent Deacon
The truths of our Catholic faith are too often these days being denied or being twisted. Therefore, this homily on the Trinity is focused on teaching. My hope is that you might hear something you can share to defend the faith if need be.
Father began Mass today, as always, in the triune God’s name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In a few moments we will profess our faith in the Creed, which is trinitarian. “We believe in one God, the Father…We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God…We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son (Jn 15:26). With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified.”
The Eucharistic Prayer is Trinitarian. Father Nixon calls down the Holy Spirit upon the bread and wine, and through the Holy Spirit they become the body and blood of Jesus Christ, a perfect offering to the Father.
We are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. And how about the Trinity in these words which, if you are not familiar with them, you need to go see Father after Mass.
“God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of His Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
Yes, that is the prayer of forgiveness for our sins at the end of Confession. Just as we are baptized into the Trinity, we are restored to our baptismal innocence in the Trinity in Confession.
The Most Holy Trinity is everywhere in our Catholic faith. It is like Sharp Top in Bedford, where no matter what street you turn down, you see it. This is why in paragraph 234 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, this astounding claim is made,
“The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of the Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in Himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the ‘hierarchy of the truths of faith.’”
The “the central mystery of the Christian faith?!” The “most fundamental and essential teaching?!” Dr. Brant Pitre, a brilliant Catholic scholar, said he would have guessed that those titles of primacy would go to Jesus on the Cross or the Resurrection. Why are they applied to the mystery of the Trinity? Because it “is the mystery of God in Himself.”
We Christians love a good mystery, especially we Catholics. The Holy Spirit dwells in us, giving us a sense of that which cannot be proven or seen. We are not like the intellectual atheist who thinks if you cannot prove something in a laboratory it doesn’t exist. While some of the most intelligent and powerful people admit they cannot define what a woman or man is, the least educated person who has the Holy Spirit within them has no problem doing so. Christians filled with the Spirit can also tell you what marriage is.
Marriage is possibly the sacrament that best gives us the best mental image of mystery of the Trinity, which is probably why marriage is under attack from many fronts. The husband loves his wife, and the wife loves her husband. Their love for one another is so strong and pure that it brings forth a third person. Likewise, God the Father loves the Son, and the Son loves the Father, and their eternal love is so great that it becomes an eternal He, the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Marriage is not a perfect analogy as the husband, wife, and child are not one as God is one, but it helps.
Bishop Barron says this is why Jesus spoke so forcefully about marriage, and why the Church has protected it throughout history. It is such an important sacred sign. Bishop Barron goes on to say that “libertarians through the ages have fought against the supposed uptight moralism of the Catholic Church. But human beings always surround precious things with laws, restrictions, and prohibitions” (Barron Gospels p. 120).
I have to this point spoken of the Trinity in our prayer, sacraments, and worship. Where, though, is the Trinity in scripture? Recall that in John’s gospel he wrote that, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Now, let’s look back at “the beginning.” In Genesis, chapter 1, we see God (1st Person) speaking His Word (2nd Person) and a “mighty wind” (3rd person). In Genesis, then one might ask, “Are we seeing three gods?” No, for in Deuteronomy 6:4, it says, “The Lord is our God, the Lord alone,” so there is only one God.
In the first reading from Proverbs, which person of the Trinity is seen with God? It is Jesus, the 2nd Person of the Trinity. “God from God, light from light, true God from true God.” Proverbs says about Jesus, “from of old I was poured forth, at the first, before the earth.” Sounds a lot like what we read in Genesis and in John’s gospel opening. Like God, Jesus has no beginning; He is eternal. To contrast, consider that our souls are not eternal, they are immortal. The distinction is that our souls will have no end, but they did have a beginning when God placed our soul in our mother’s womb.
Where can we more clearly see the Trinity in scripture? Bonus points for you if you said Jesus’ baptism. In Luke’s version, the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus, and a voice from heaven says, “You are my son…” (Lk 3:21-22). One could argue that the voice called Jesus, “Son”, not God. But we have already established Jesus’ eternal existence through John’s gospel opening and the scene in Genesis and today’s reading from Proverbs. There is more evidence though. Jesus called himself “I am,” the name God gave for himself to Moses (Ex 3:14; Jn 8:58, 18:5). Also, after an official called Him “good”, Jesus asked him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone” (Lk 18:19). Thus, using a traditional Hebrew teaching method, Jesus affirmed that He is God.
Is the Holy Spirit God? Reason suggests yes. We baptize in the name of God the Father and God the Son. It follows that we baptize in the name of God the Spirit too. In today’s gospel, Jesus says the Holy Spirit “will guide you to all truth” and “declare to you the things that are coming” (Jn 16:13). Thus, the Holy Spirit is omniscient, and only God is omniscient or all knowing. The unity of God the Father and God the Spirit is pictured in today’s second reading from Romans. Paul tells us that God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5). The infinite love of God cannot be poured out through a finite spirit. The Holy Spirit is infinite, the same as the Father and the Son.
When I started doing research for this homily, the very first thing I clicked on from the internet turned out to be the heresy that Jesus is not God. It was written by someone calling himself a Unitarian. I was struck by how poor his argument was. It was mostly personal conjecture. His argument was disconnected from any tradition, like a tiny boat being tossed about in the ocean with no sail or anchor. He did not reference any great thinkers or saints.
Our Catholic faith is not that way. The same things I am teaching today on the Trinity, St. Athanasius called the “ancient tradition, teaching, and faith of the Catholic Church.” He said that in the 300s. It is fitting then that I, a deacon in 2022, close by quoting St. Athanasius, a bishop in the 300s, who was quoting St. Paul, an apostle writing to the Corinthians just twenty some odd years after Jesus’s resurrection. “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in everyone (1 Cor 12: 4-6).” God is good.