THERE CAN NEVER BE A PERFECT ILLUSTRATION OF THE TRINITY, VOL. 5, NO. 21

0

A HOMILY DELIVERED TO ST. MARY’S PARISH UMUNDU ON THE SOLEMNITY OF THE HOLY TRINITY (16TH JUNE 2019)
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit…
Today, we celebrate a Mystery that eludes human comprehension and yet true in itself. God however, from time to time, unfolds this mystery to us in ways that we can understand. Providentially, the mystery has expressed itself to you today, by the triplet that is welcomed to your Church (referring to the three babies whose churching were recognised shortly before the Holy Mass). This is a manifestation of the BlessedTrinity and indeed we are glad (there was a great 👏 👏 👏 in the Church).
The famous and most intelligent African Saint, Augustine of Hippo, tried to delve into the possibility of three persons in one God, and his horrible experience could testify to his belief and resolution never to think about it any longer. Today, we do not intend to unravel the possibility, rather we make effort to explain the nature of its possibility.
You and I live in a three-dimensional world. All physical objects have a certain height, width, and depth. One person can look like someone else, or behave like someone else, or even sound like someone else. But a person cannot actually be the same as another person. They are distinct individuals. God, however, lives without the limitations of a three-dimensional universe. He is spirit. And he is infinitely more complex than we are. That is why Jesus the Son can be different from the Father. And, yet the same. It is worthy to note that we do not intend to express similarity here (Jesus is like God) rather sameness (Jesus is God).
In various ways, our Faith speaks volume to the reality of this mystery. Hence, St. Anselm taught us that it is by faith we seek to understand God (fides queret intellectum). At the beginning of this Eucharistic celebration, the Chief celebrant acclaimed with a sign of the Cross: “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” and we all declared Amen! That is the first declaration of our belief in the triune God. Shortly before the readings at Mass, the priest concluded the Collect (that is opening prayer before reading) with “through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever” and we declared “Amen”. The Nicene Creed immediately after the homily is a full Testament of our belief in the Trinity. Again, during the Consecration (especially Epiclecy), we feel another trinitarian recognition whereby the Priest call on God to send his Spirit upon the gifts (bread and wine), that they may become the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, the final blessing at the end of the Holy Mass is done by the Priest in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
More still, apart from the Eucharistic celebration, the celebration of other sacraments also recognise the Trinity. Baptism for instance is done in the name of the Trinity (I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy). The nuptial ritual of rings at wedding is done in the name of the Trinity. The sacramental formular for absolution by the priests during confession also have a trinitarian dimension. These liturgical illustrations testify to our belief in the reality of the three persons in one God.
Although we cannever have a perfect illustration or analogy on the nature of the Trinity, we can do a little exercise of description.
First and foremost, from the point of view of language, the term: “Tri” meaning three, and “Unity” meaning one, Tri+Unity = Trinity. It is a way of acknowledging what the Bible reveals to us about God, that God is yet three “Persons” who have the same essence of deity. If we were to use math, it would not be, 1+1+1=3. It would be 1x1x1=1. God is a triune God. Scientifically, some have tried to give human illustrations for the Trinity, such as H2O being water, ice and steam (all different forms, but all are H2O). Another illustration would be the sun. From it we receive light, heat and radiation. Three distinct aspects, but only one sun. As earlier noted, we cannot have a perfect illustration. Now let’s go scriptural.
The Bible clearly speaks of: God the Son, God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit. But emphasizes that there is only ONE God. But from the very beginning we see God as a Trinity. In the book of Genesis, (1:26, 27) the first book in the Bible, God says, “Let us make man in our image…male and female he created them.” You see here a mixture of plural and singular pronouns. The plural pronoun “us” representing the three personalities, while the singular “he” represents their one essence (bear in mind that we are not unaware of Jewish pluralism in the notion of God, as in Elohim). Moreover, we shall dwell more on the fact of Jesus being God because that is the major problem for those (e. g. Arians, Ebionites, Gnostic) who refused to participate with us in the belief of the Trinity.
When Moses asked God for his name, God replied, “I am” – eternally existing. Jesus used the same phrase numerous times in the New Testament. “I am the light of the world…” “I am the bread of life…” “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Far more importantly, Abraham is someone mentioned in Genesis, thousands of years before Jesus came to earth. Yet, Jesus said of himself, “Before Abraham was born, I am.” The Jews understood fully what Jesus was saying because they picked up stones to kill him for “blasphemy” – claiming to be God. Jesus has always existed. This came up time and time again. Jesus was so clear about his unique relationship with the Father. This is why, “the Jewish leaders tried all the harder to find a way to kill him. For he not only broke the Sabbath, he called God his Father, thereby making himself equal with God.” (Jn.8:56-59). Besides, Jesus confirmed his divine nature in so many ways to the Jews through his power to forgive sins, raise the dead and above all, 🚶 walk on waters. These are powerful attributes that the Jewish tradition reserve to God alone. And if Jesus could perform them, it therefore implies that he is God. Thus, Deut.6:4 (shema), Is. 45:5, 1Cor. 8:4 and many other passages confirm that there’s only but one God. And so, that one God is Jesus (expressed in three persons). These three persons were revealed to us during the baptism of Jesus at the River Jordan (Matt. 3:16-17). Apart from his baptism, we also observe the activities of these persons in one God in the mystery of incarnation as rightly pointed out in Lk 1:35 and Matt 1:20.
Following from the above, we are called to reflect the divine perichoresis (the divine dance among the three persons in one God) in our family, Church and community. We should emulate the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, who first experienced this dance. The father of any family should not lord it over the members of his family. He should rather identify with them in love and humility. Mothers who are bread winners should not feel disturbed with hierarchical struggle against their husbands. And let the children of the house remain submissive and responsible to deliver their duties at home. In the Church, the words of St. Paul to the Corinthian Church in ICor 12:1-14:40 should remain our guiding principles. According to him, no matter the amount of spiritual gifts one possesses, Love is the most excellent way towards maintaining order and unity in the Church. Let their be no crisis in the community, rather let us enjoy the divine dance of the Trinity to the greater glory of God and well being of all!

0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

New Report

Close