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Sunday Sharing

The Holy Trinity

Our Christian faith teaches us that our One God is in Three Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  This mystery of Three in One, Unity in Trinity, truly is the foundation of our faith.  When our discipleship is formally initiated via baptism, it is by that authority that we are baptized, and into that mystery: the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.   The mystery of the Trinity begins to be revealed to us at our baptisms.

Our public prayer is saturated with praise and thanksgiving of the Trinity.  At every mass, the first words spoken by the presider are those words of our baptism: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”   At our Sunday masses, we join our voices in the Gloria, an ancient hymn of praise to the Trinity: God the Father whom we praise for his glory, Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and the Holy Spirit.   After the homily, we recite the Creed, which is an affirmation of our baptismal, Trinitarian faith: “I believe in God, the Father almighty … I believe in our Lord Jesus Christ the only begotten Son of God … I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life …”   Our Eucharistic Prayers culminate with a doxology, a prayer of praise that Jesus’s giving of himself unites us in the Holy Spirit with the Father.  Finally, we are blessed in the name of the Trinity at the end of mass.  From first to last, our public worship is worship of the Three Persons in One God.

There are two basic mistakes we can make when we think about our Trinitarian God.  The first is to think of God only as one person, rather than Three Persons.  The second is to think of God as three different gods rather than One God.  Perhaps the first mistake is more common: it is not difficult for us to think of Jesus as a mere mortal who had wise teachings and sayings, and told great stories, but who isn’t divine; that error continues when we forget that the Holy Spirit is present among us, inspiring us, helping us to discern what is true, making us brave, and endowing us with gifts.

As disciples, we’re called to live lives of thanksgiving for all that the Three Persons in One God has done for us.  We can honor God the Father by showing reverence for his creation.  We should heed Pope Francis’s call to find sustainable ways of pursuing economic activities, treating creation not as mere resources to be exploited for profitable gain, but rather as a gift to which we, as creatures ourselves, are intimately connected.  We should acknowledge that God entrusted us with a holy vocation to be responsible stewards of his creation.  As part of our reverence for creation, we have a special obligation to be stewards of all human life, from conception through natural death.  In our time and place, that means taking whatever steps we licitly can to protect human life that still is in the womb, through just laws and by our willingness to support families who need help in rearing their children.

We honor God the Son by acknowledging his Lordship and by following his teachings: by showing a preferential option for the poor, by beseeching the forgiveness of those whom we’ve wronged, by seeking to be last rather than first, by proclaiming the advent of his kingdom, and by baptizing in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We honor the Holy Spirit by gratefully acknowledging the many gifts and talents we’ve been given, by seeking to cultivate those talents, and by applying them to the holy work of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus and building up his kingdom.  
St. Gregory Nazienzan, one of the Cappadocian Fathers and a great Doctor of the Church, gave us these passionate words about the Trinity when he was instructing catechumens in the truth of our Trinitarian faith:

Above all guard for me this great deposit of faith for which I live and fight, which I want to take with me as a companion, and which makes me bear all evils and despise all pleasures: I mean the profession of faith in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  I entrust it to you today.  By it I am soon going to plunge you into water and raise you up from it.  I give to you as the companion and patron of your whole life.  I give you but one divinity and power, existing one in three, and containing the three in a distinct way … I have not even begun to think of unity when the Trinity bathes me in its splendor.  I have not even begun to think of the Trinity when unity grasps me … [Oratio 40, 41, quoted in Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 256].

Question for reflection: What can I do to show deeper gratitude to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit in my life?

Deacon Jim Pauwels