Joy of Living in Communion With the Trinity

May 26, 2024 |by N W | 0 Comments | Deacon Mark, Eucharist, Family, Holy Spirit, Mary, St. Joseph, Trinity

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
May 26, 2024 — Year B
Readings: Dt 4:32-34, 39-40 / Ps 33 / Rom 8:14-17 / Mt 28:16-20
by Rev. Mr. Mark De La Hunt, Permanent Deacon

Before there was YouTube, Scott Hahn, and the Catechism, I was asked to teach 9th grade faith formation. It was a small college parish that had few resources and, accordingly, I wasn’t given a book to teach from. I knew very little about my faith like most 20-something Catholics in the early 1990s. One evening, one of the 9th grade boys told the class that the Trinity is nowhere in the Bible. In my ignorance, I was incapable of saying, “Yes, it is,” and then showing him, much less leading him to the joy of living in the Trinity. I pray in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit that I can do that for you now.

I am going to show you where the Trinity is in the Bible, and how the scriptures present the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as one God in three Persons, equal in power and knowledge, all existing for all time, uncreated with no beginning and no end.  Once we have that firm footing, I will give some pastoral guidance on living in communion with the Trinity, especially for teenagers.

If I was teaching that 9th grade class today, I would show that teenage boy where the Trinity is in the Bible. Jesus’ use of the Trinity at the end of Matthew’s gospel, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…” was not brought up out of the blue by Matthew (Mt 28:19). He reveals the Trinity at the baptism of Jesus in chapter 3:16-17, saying when Jesus (the second Person of the Trinity) came up out of the water, the Spirit of God (third Person of Trinity) descended upon Him in the shape of a dove, and then the voice of the Father (first Person) says He is well pleased in His Son (Mitch, pg. 371). Sooo, when someone says the Trinity is not in the Bible, you can show them Matthew 3 and 28.

I’m guessing, though, that teenage boy, in the annoying way teens can excel at, would say, “Hey Mr. De La Hunt, look at the first reading where Moses tells the people, ‘The Lord is God…and…there is no other (Dt 4:35).’ It doesn’t mention Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”  Worshiping only one God, which is called monotheism, set Israel apart from all other nations in its day, and they fiercely defended this belief. To this day, the Jews’ belief that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit cannot be one God, is said by some to be the biggest stumbling block for their embracing Jesus Christ as the Messiah.  The confusion and unbelief are understandable. The Trinity is not easy to wrap your head around. It took the Church over three hundred years to articulate the doctrine (Mitch, pg. 371).

Fortunately, one of the greatest biblical preachers on the Trinity was a fiercely devout and highly learned Jew, St. Paul. When he was still going by the name of Saul, he was persecuting Christians, because they were calling Jesus God. But when Jesus removed those scales from Paul’s eyes in Damascus, Paul saw Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as that one God of whom Moses spoke (Acts 9:18).

In today’s second reading from Paul’s letter to the Roman church, he tells the Christian community that they have received a “Spirit of adoption, through whom we cry, ‘Abba, Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. (Rom 8:15-17).” This wasn’t the only place Paul invoked the Trinity while spreading the Good News.

In chapter 13 of his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul greets the people with words that Father greeted you with at the beginning of the Mass. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you (2 Cor 13:13).”  Sounds pretty Trinitarian. I could also show that 9th grader 1 Corinthians 12, Galatians 4, and 1 Thessalonians 1. Oh, if only I had Curtis Mitch’s and Ed Sri’s Catholic bible commentary when I was in my twenties. Hopefully that young man kept pursuing the truth.

All I have proven, though, is that a devout, fiercely monotheistic Jew came to see a Father, a Son, and a Holy Spirit. But you are excellent at debating and call me on it. You rightly say, “Deacon Mark, you must prove all three are God.” Ok. Let’s start with the easiest one. God is God, creator of heaven and earth and all that is visible and invisible. The Old Testament, like today’s first reading with Moses and today’s Psalm speak to this.

You smile, confident you will disprove the second Person of the Trinity, asking, “What about Jesus? To be God, you must have existed for all time, be uncreated, no beginning, no end. But Jesus was born of a woman.”  John’s gospel best speaks to Jesus being God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…He was in the world, and the world came into being through Him…And the Word became flesh and lived among us. It is God the only Son (Jn 1:1, 10, 14, 18).”

At this point, I want to defend Our Lady, that “woman” who gave birth to Jesus. I would be remiss to not mention that Mary was declared the “Mother of God” at the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD. But it wasn’t only that gathering of bishops who believed that. A crowd of the faithful waited in the streets for them to affirm what they already believed. And they celebrated joyfully when Mary, mother of Jesus, was affirmed as Mary, mother of God the Son.

Your confident smile falters, but you recover and move on to the third Person of the Trinity. You, with noticeably less bravado, say, “Jesus says the Father will send the Holy Spirit, and He even breathes the Spirit onto the apostles (Jn 14:26; 15:26; 20:22). For all three to be God, they must all three be equal in power and knowledge, which is to say in omnipotence (all powerful) and omniscience (all knowing). Doesn’t sound like the Holy Spirt is equal, because He is always being sent.”

The Deacon smiles at you, so happy that you are seeking truth. He encourages you to open your Bible to 2 Corinthians, where Paul writes, “No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God (2 Cor 2:11).”  God’s thoughts are infinite, so for the Spirit to comprehend God’s thoughts, the Spirit must also have infinite knowledge or omniscience. Next, the Deacon shows you 1 Corinthians, where Paul calls our body a “temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19).” The Deacon says, “Only God can have a temple, so the Holy Spirit must be God (Tim Staples).” Finally, the Deacon turns to Acts 5 and reads, “But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? . . . You have not lied to men but to God.”  Like St. Paul, St. Peter, also a Jew, saw God and the Holy Spirit as the one true God of Israel. (A shoutout to Catholic Answers for this paragraph.)

Now we know some of the scriptural basis for the Most Holy Trinity, but how do we live this deep theological mystery? First, and foremost, we never, ever miss Mass. If we are healthy enough to go to the grocery store or out to eat, we are healthy enough to go to Mass. Dads and Moms, do not let any of your children miss Mass due to camping or beach trips, band, or dance, or soccer, or volleyball, or AP class projects. Why?

First, we have a desperate need to receive our Lord’s body and blood. But also, we should do so because it is the most powerful way in which we live within the communion of the Trinity. We worship God the Father, offering the one sacrifice of Christ the Son, through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Trinity makes our Catholic worship perfect. And remember that God is a communion of Persons in the Most Holy Trinity, so to worship in the Trinity, we need to do so in communion with others, the Trinity making us into a holy, mystical communion.

Let’s put some blue jeans on this. When we are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, God makes us part of His family. Teenagers, since we started this homily with a teenager, I am coming back to you. Know that our family is where we discover who we are. There is a memory helper or pneumonic for this, RIM which stands for Relationship, Identity, Mission. This applies to your natural family, but also to your supernatural family, the Trinity.

Teens and twenty somethings too, I know you are in a very challenging time in life between becoming an adult and knowing the path God wants your life to take. This time brings to your mind heartfelt questions. Who am I? Where is my place in this world? What strengths, talents, and capabilities do I have? Should I go to college? If so, what should I study? Should I get a job instead, so I can receive training from my employer? If so, what type of job should I pursue? Am I to get married? If so, how will I find the right person? If not marriage, should I check out consecrated religious life? Holy Orders?

You will find the answers within your supernatural family of the Trinity. Back to RIM. Relationship: pursue your relationship with the Trinity in prayer (daily), the Mass (at least weekly), and Confession (often). Identity: Being close to the Trinity will help you to learn who you are and what gifts you have. Mission: Now that you know who you are, you can go on mission with the grace of Jesus Christ, the love of the Father, and your communion with them through the Holy Spirit. They will work with you and show you the way.

It is not as easy as it sounds, though. You will need patience and trust. God tends to show us one step at a time. Our job is to stay in Relationship with Him (prayer, Mass, Confession) so we can see that next step and trust Him by taking that step. Joseph is a helpful model here. He was given one step at a time, and he took them.

Remember how God came to Joseph and told him to take Mary as his wife, and oh by the way she is already pregnant, and the child is God. Wow. What does Joseph say, “Yes Lord.”  Then, in the middle of the night, God wakes up Joseph and tells him to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt. No one wants to be woken up in the middle of the night, much less to drop your life and move to a new one in a strange place. Joseph, said, “Yes Lord.”  And when God told him, a short while later, to move back to Israel, Joseph took that step too.

One could say this about Joseph. “By being united to Jesus and animated by the Spirit of love and obedience, [Joseph knew the] joy that is perfect and complete, a joy that comes only from participating in the divine communion (Jeff Cavins, Hallow).” Jeff Cavins spoke of this joy using the words of the prophet Nehemiah, “The joy of the Lord (Trinity) is your strength (Neh 8:10).” He went on to say, [our joy] is not just a fleeting emotion but a deep and abiding reality that comes from communion with the Trinity.

Final words. Whether we are born into an amazing family or a broken one, or in a place that is fantastic or one that is dark, or have built a successful life or made a hot mess of it, none of those things define us! What defines us is our baptism, for from that day onward, we call the most-high God Father, and Jesus who is the King of the Universe, brother, and the Holy Spirit, the love that flows between them, counselor, helper, and guide. The Psalm today, unbeknownst to the author, was written about us, the baptized. “Blessed the people the Lord (Trinity) has chosen to be His own. Our soul waits for the Lord, who is our help and our shield. May your kindness, O Lord, be upon us who have put our hope in you.”  Lord, grant us the grace we need to order our lives to be in communion with You who are Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Citations

Jeff Cavins Daily Reflections on Hallow, May 11, 2024. He references the Catholic Commentary of Sacred Scripture which I used to describe Joseph’s living in the Trinity.

Tim Staples – Catholic Answers. Simply Google Catholic Answers on the Trinity. You will see “Explaining the Trinity” by Tim Staples dated June 20, 2014, at catholic.com.

Curtis Mitch and Edward Sri. “Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture, The Gospel of Matthew.”  Baker Academic 2010.

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The Word Became Flesh

December 25, 2023 |by N W | 0 Comments | Christmas, Guest Celebrants, Mary, St. John, Trinity, Trust

The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)
December 25, 2023 — Year B
Readings: Is 52:7-10 / Ps 98 / Heb 1:1-6 / Jn 1:1-18
by Rev. Jay Biber, Guest Celebrant

I love John’s gospel this morning. Of course, I love Luke’s gospel at the night Masses. Luke’s gospel, which goes into all the detail about the manger, then the trip of Mary and Joseph, and no room at the inn. All of those specifics of going for enrollment in the Roman census. All the details, very specific details.

John’s gospel was the product of what would seem to be a later reflection, a later gospel. John, of course, was the one apostle who did not pour out his blood for the faith. The other eleven all gave themselves as martyrs, except John. John was the youngest apostle at the time of Christ and would live to be the oldest. The writings attributed to John in the New Testament come from a period of more mature reflection, just like we can look back on our lives. When you look back, you understand it with a different eye. You can look at it differently, because enough life has happened to you.

John talks about the Incarnation in these famous words of “Et verbum caro factum est, et habitavit in nobis.” The Word, the second Person of the Trinity, co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. When God speaks, it’s that Word that goes out and takes on flesh, caro. Et habitavit in nobis – and lived among us. It’s that first great mystery that God has chosen, and it’s so great a mystery. God has chosen to take on flesh while still being God at the same time.

And not only that, but He has depended on the “yes” of Mary to do it. She wasn’t forced. She wasn’t a robot. She chose to take Him within her womb. We see human dignity in God’s taking on flesh. That must mean something really enormous about our flesh, about the human dignity of it. It’s from the beginning, willed by God.

And then, dwelt among us. But the way He does it: in all humility, coming through the womb, so the womb itself becomes a place of great mystery, the touch of the divine in it, capable of bearing divinity. Mary bore divinity, because Christ was who He was: He was the Word. He was the second Person. He is the Word.

Why? Because our flesh had lost its brilliance through the original sin of self-sufficiency: “We can do it on our own. We’re not meant to need anybody.” Oh yes, it’s disobedience, but I suspect it was that spirit of self-sufficiency that preceded the actual disobedience. “I don’t have to have a God; I can be one. Oh that sounds good: I can be one.”

One of the customs of the Church, to emphasize the Incarnation, is to bow during the Creed, when we say “and He became Man.” We’re meant to physically bring the body into worship. But today we genuflect at those words.

In the fifth century the Church began making a proclamation at Christmas, maybe because they said, this is so great, this is so unimaginable, when you really think of it. It was sung last night. It announces the Incarnation. “When God in the beginning created heaven and earth,” it goes back. “Century upon century had passed.” “In the twenty-first century since Abraham, our father in faith,” so we’re beginning with the Old Testament. “The thirteenth century since the people of Israel were led by Moses in the Exodus.” “Around the thousandth year since David was anointed king,” so we’re squarely in the tradition of Israel here. “In the sixty-fifth week of the prophecy of Daniel.”

It’s locating this moment, and of course that’s how we measure time. That’s our calendar. Christ enters – God enters – history. Not some sort of crystal, new age thing, but tangible, physical, material.

But then it leaves the Old Testament. “In the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad.” Obviously that has nothing to do with Israel. It’s got to do with Athens, the great capital of the Greek empire, before Rome. And so now it’s situated in the secular world. This gives meaning to the secular world as well as the specifically religious. It touches everything. This is when the Incarnation happened: in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad.

And then, let’s take it to the next empire: to Rome. “In the year seven hundred and fifty-two since the foundation of the city of Rome.” And then more; you see the portal narrows. “In the forty-second year of the reign of that particular Roman emperor, Caesar Octavian Augustus, the whole world being at peace.”  The stage is set now.

“Jesus Christ, eternal God and Son of the eternal Father, desiring to consecrate the world by His most loving presence, was conceived by the Holy Spirit.” That’s what we call the Annunciation, on March 25, really our first celebration of the Incarnation, because Christ was who He was in Mary’s womb, just like you were, from the first moment of your conception. You were who you were. “And was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem of Judah and was made man.”

We often look to redemption as the passion of Christ, but this is the first of the two great pillars of our redemption: the Incarnation, because He takes flesh, because God’s plan has always been that we would be spirit and matter, spirit and flesh. That’s how we’re saved. Not in spite of that, but in that structure.

Why did God do it this way? He could have made it so nice and clean, so nice and tidy. He could have made it so we couldn’t sin, and so our sin wouldn’t affect others. But He didn’t make it that way. I prefer to think that that’s because of our greatness, because of that potential greatness that’s there, if we turn everything over to Him. If we make that real surrender, then life begins to pop.

Think of the details of Mary’s life. First of all, the Annunciation. You’re going to have a baby, from the Holy Spirit. And there’s Mary’s first yes, followed by a series of yesses all the way through, at each moment. A series of yesses, none of which she would have scripted, none of which situations she would have scripted herself, I don’t think. But she keeps saying yes, she keeps saying I trust, let it be done to me according to your word.

Part of me says I wish I could really celebrate Christmas, but there are so many distractions, so many things that get into my head and mess with my head, whether it’s stuff in the Church right now, stuff in the world, in our culture, and on and on and on.  If only I weren’t so distracted by these things, if I weren’t giving them rent-free space in my head, then I could really focus on the beauty of God.

Well, think of Mary.  Talk about distractions! Everything. Are they talking a little bit and whispering in town? And then the census is announced, and Joseph, the father of the family, would historically go and sign up like he’s supposed to within the Roman empire. But Mary goes with him. She didn’t have to go. You wouldn’t expect the mother and the children to go for those things. She went.

And then, it comes time to give birth, no room at the inn. She still says yes, and she gives birth in the manger. If anybody’s ever had an Italian grandmother, trying to make you eat, she’ll say “Mangia, mangia.” That’s our word manger. Manger is the French, same spelling, meaning to eat.

So He who will provide – think of the mystery — in His body, that Body and Blood of Christ that many of us will receive later this morning, He who will feed the world and strengthen the world until it comes time for God’s project to finally wind up in the final judgment. He who feeds the world is born in the place where the animals feed, the trough. And Mary continues to say yes.

So don’t ever expect your Christmas day or your Christmas season to be without distractions. For some reason God has chosen the Incarnation as His way, and that’s messy. Birth, children, that’s messy. But somehow, for those eyes of faith that can look into that reality, there is a divine beauty as well. And so, through the grace of God, I’ll expect distractions every Christmas.

There’ll always be something wrong, easy to find, but if I can keep my eyes on Mary and her Son who lived among us, then those distractions can be very, very significantly reduced. Then we can, in all situations, come to this great feast thankful and hopeful.

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The Mystery of God

June 4, 2023 |by N W | 0 Comments | Faith, Father Nixon, Holy Spirit, Trinity

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
June 4, 2023 — Year A
Readings: Ex 34:4b-6, 8-9 / Dn 3: 52-56 / 2 Cor 13:11-13 / Jn 3:16-18
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor

There was once a story of a pope who wanted a portrait of God, so he called in all of the artisans of Rome.  He told them that whoever could perfectly portray God on canvas would receive a papal award.  So the artisans gathered in the Vatican work room, and each one started to paint a portrait of God.  They worked on their masterpieces for several months, except for one painter named Giuseppe.  Being old, Giuseppe would fall asleep in front of his canvas while thinking about how he would paint God.

Finally, the time came when the pope would judge their paintings.  His Holiness toured the large gallery and looked at each painting beside its artist.  God was represented in many ways:  an old loving man; a shepherd; a king on a throne; a crucified; a dove; and in several other ways.  Yet to the surprise of all, the pope was not satisfied with any of the portraits.

When the pope glanced into the corner, he heard Giuseppe snoring in front of his canvas.  He went to the old painter and saw the empty canvas in front of him.

“This is it!” the pope exclaimed.  “This is the perfect portrayal of God.”  The cardinals, bishops, and all the artisans gathered around His Holiness, holding the canvas with nothing painted on it.

“Your Holiness, the canvas is empty.  It has no portrait of God,” the cardinals told him.

“Exactly,” the pope said.  “That is what God looks like – indescribable.”

A joke, and at the same time, true.

Brothers and sisters, today is Trinity Sunday.  Our Catholic faith teaches us that there is only one God, but three divine persons:  God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, or Three in One.

I remember a friend of mine who encountered an atheist who said that we Catholics have so many gods:  God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  We express it in the Sign of the Cross.  This atheist continued to say that the Bible teaches us to worship God alone, and no other god.

My friend told the atheist that in our Bible, the mathematics formula that we can find is not addition, but multiplication.   And he said, (and he quoted from Genesis, but he changed some words) “Go out into the world and multiply.”  He did not say, “Go out into the world and minus.  So,” my friend continued, “1 x 1 x 1 = 1.  That is why we have only one God, but three divine persons.”

Anyway, this is not the way to explain the mystery of the Blessed Trinity.  But we can use this way to explain the mystery in a simple and direct way.  The name Trinity means “three in one.”  “Three in one” because there are three divine persons:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  They are not three gods, but one God.

But none of the readings we heard today talked directly about the Trinity or used the word, Trinity.  Yet the Most Holy Trinity, which is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is the central mystery of the Christian faith and life.  It is the mystery of God.  It is, therefore, the source of all other mysteries of faith.

St. Paul came closest in talking about the Trinity.  What he said sounds familiar to all of us; we just heard it in the Second Reading.  He speaks of the grace of Jesus Christ and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.  (1 Corinthians 13:13)   This is the greeting of the priest at the beginning of the Mass, after making the Sign of the Cross.

Maybe at this time we are still a little bit confused, and we wonder: Are we worshipping three gods or one God? Let us bear in mind this thought from St. Augustine:  Trinity is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived.  I will try to explain this on two levels:  doctrinal and practical.

On the doctrinal level, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraph numbers 253 – 255, summarizes this doctrine in three parts.

First:  That the Trinity is One. We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three divine persons, the “consubstantial Trinity.”  The divine persons do not share the one divinity among themselves but each of them is God whole and entire: “The Father is that which the Son is, the Son that which the Father is, the Father and the Son that which the Holy Spirit is, by nature, one God.”

Second:  The divine persons are really distinct from one another. “God is one but not solitary.”  “Father,” “Son,” “Holy Spirit” are not simply names designating modalities of the divine being, for they are really distinct from one another: “He is not the Father who is the Son, nor is the Son He who is the Father, nor is the Holy Spirit He who is the Father or the Son.”  They are distinct from one another in their relations of origin: “It is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds.”

Third:  The divine persons are relative to one another. Because it does not divide the divine unity, the real distinction of the persons from one another resides solely in the relationships which relate them to one another: “In the relational names of the persons, the Father is related to the Son, the Son to the Father, and the Holy Spirit to both. While they are called three persons in view of their relations, we believe in one nature or substance.”   “Because of that unity the Father is wholly in the Son and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Son is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Son.”

So now on the practical level, how does the mystery fit into our day-to-day life as Christians?  To ponder this mystery more deeply, what comes out is community.  If there are three persons in one God, then there has to be a community; a unity among the three.

Brothers and sisters, we are made in the image and likeness of God.  That being so, we ought to mirror our various communities; for example, families, religious congregations, offices, workplaces, and others in the image of the Holy Trinity.  These communities should bear the fruit of unity:  understanding, love, peace, and harmony.  It is good that these will be the fruits in us.  We are the icons of the Blessed Trinity, and so let us make the Blessed Trinity concrete in our lives.

All that and more is the meaning of God as Trinity.  It is this God as Trinity whom we need most, especially these days when we are experiencing a crisis, political, economic, sociocultural, religious, moral, and especially our relationships with one another.  But if we can only allow our trinified God to cure the woundedness in our own hearts, we may yet learn to really love one another as He loves us.

May our every home be filled with the trinitarian atmosphere of love, peace, unity, sharing, and let us also overflow this in our homes to our neighbors’ homes, offices, businesses, and work.

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Understanding the Trinity

June 12, 2022 |by N W | 0 Comments | Deacon Mark, Holy Spirit, Sacraments, St. John, Trinity

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.

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Baptism: The Bridge

January 9, 2022 |by N W | 0 Comments | Baptism, Comfort, Guest Deacons, Ordinary Time, Repentance, Sacraments, Trinity

The Baptism of the Lord
January 9, 2022 – Year C
Readings: Is 42:1-4, 6-7 / Ps 29 / Acts 10:34-38 / Lk 3:15-16, 21-22
by Deacon Barry Welch, Guest Homilist

Today we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord.  It’s a big day.  Sometimes that feast seems to get lost, as we’re coming out of the huge feast of Christmas, but it really is a very, very big day.  Secular (or non-religious) historians say that this is one of two events that happened with certainty with respect to Jesus.  One of those events is the crucifixion of Jesus; historians are pretty certain that that took place.  The other is the Baptism of the Lord.   Secular historians use this event as the basis for their study of the life of Jesus.  So it’s a pretty significant event.  Hallelujah! (more…)

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Understanding the Holy Spirit

May 23, 2021 |by N W | Comments Off on Understanding the Holy Spirit | Deacon Eddie, Holy Spirit, Love, Pentecost, Sacraments, Trinity

Pentecost Sunday
May 23, 2021 — Year B
Readings: Acts 2:1-11 / Ps 104 / 1 Cor 12:3B-7, 12-13 / Jn 20:19-23
by Rev. Mr. Eddie Craig, Permanent Deacon

On this day we celebrate the Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit on the disciples, which is also the birthday of our Church.

This week I was talking on the telephone to my friend, deacon candidate, and acolyte extraordinaire, Mark DeLaHunt. He said to me, “The Holy Spirit is the most powerful person of the Holy Trinity, because He’s the only one of the Three whose name no one takes in vain.” (more…)

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Who Is God?

August 23, 2020 |by N W | Comments Off on Who Is God? | Deacon Eddie, Love, Mission, St. John, Trinity

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 23, 2020 – Year A
Readings: Is 22:19-23 / Ps 138 / Rom 11:33-36 / Mt 16:13-20
by Rev. Mr. Eddie Craig, Permanent Deacon

Many people love to watch television, but ever since I got high speed internet eight years ago, I have to confess I very rarely turn on my TV to actually watch something coming over the air (except for football.) I have Netflix; I’ve got Amazon Prime; and I do watch those. But the thing I probably watch the most is YouTube, because I love YouTube. (more…)

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The Wisdom of Love

May 31, 2020 |by N W | Comments Off on The Wisdom of Love | Courage, Father Salvador, Holy Spirit, Love, Pentecost, Prayer, Strength, Trinity, Wisdom

Pentecost Sunday
May 31, 2020 – Year A
Readings: Acts 2:1-11 / Ps 104 / 1 Cor 12:3B-7, 12-13 / Jn 20:19-23
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor

Not too long ago, during a gathering with brother Knights of Columbus, a man was wearing a t-shirt which said, “I am not 70 years old, I am an 18-year-old man with 52 years of experience.” Maybe you have seen this before. Many believe that experience gives us wisdom, which means the older we get, the wiser we should be. The years give us experience, therefore wisdom. (more…)

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Wisdom and Courage

May 20, 2018 |by N W | Comments Off on Wisdom and Courage | Blessings, Commitment, Courage, Father Salvador, Holy Spirit, Love, Pentecost, Trinity, Trust |

Pentecost Sunday
May 20, 2018 – Year B
Readings: Acts 2:1-11 / Ps 104 / 1 Cor 12:3B-7, 12-13 / Jn 20:19-23
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor

If you are not one of the millions who watched the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, at least you must have heard that there was a royal wedding that took place in Windsor Castle in the United Kingdom yesterday.  The Most Reverend Michael Curry, who gave the sermon at the ceremony, quoted a Roman Catholic priest, the late Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, whom he considered one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century. (more…)

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Embrace the Mystery

June 11, 2017 |by N W | Comments Off on Embrace the Mystery | Courage, Faith, Guest Celebrants, Self-Reflection, Trinity, Trust

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
June 11, 2017 – Year A
Readings: Ex 34:4B-6, 8-9 / Dn 3:52-56 / 2 Cor 13:11-13 / Jn 3:16-18
by Rev. Paul O’Donnell Duggan, Guest Celebrant

Are you familiar with Rabbi Harold Kushner? His son had the serious disease of premature aging which caused him to die at the young age of fifteen. So Rabbi Kushner wrote a book, Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?
(more…)

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