Homily for the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, Year C 2019
Fr. Francis Afu
It is not enough to do good without knowing the Good, the God who is the source of all good. It is not enough to attend Mass without knowing the God who calls us to gather for Mass, the God who comes to us; the God who speaks to us: in the readings, in the actions of the priest and in the gathered assembly; the God who gives Himself to us in His Body and Blood. It is not enough to say, “we believe in God, without knowing the God in which we believe”.
So, while in past weeks we have taken time to reflect on what God is doing through the Incarnation, the Paschal Mystery and through the Coming of the Holy Spirit, today, we gather to reflect on the question, what is God. Who is He? The “what question” is about the nature of God, which metaphysics calls the essence of God, the Otherness of God. God is One, Unity. He is not one superior Being among others. But He is the Being of all beings. He is the Good.
Talking about the Oneness of God, St. John Paul II has this to say, “God in His deepest mystery is not a solitude, but a family, since He has in Himself Fatherhood, Sonship and the essence of the family, which is Love – the Holy Spirit”. This statement addresses the “who question”. God is One. In His Oneness is the unity of Persons: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Each of these Persons are different and unique, but they are One God; One in Being, and three in Persons.
In other words, the question who is God, can be answered as, God is the Trinity of Persons. This understanding of God differentiates the Christian God from the gods of other religions. For Christianity is the only religion that speaks of God as the Trinity of Persons. Other religions like Judaism and Islam also speak of One God. But among these religions, only Judaism addresses God as Father. However, Judaism does not speak of God as the Trinity of Persons.
Why is the Trinity so important for us Christians? Bishop Robert Barron gives three reasons. First, The Trinity names the ground of reality. That reality is not a product of chance, random mutation or natural selection like many would want us to believe. But there is the Father, in the Jewish sense, there is the Founder, the source from which all things come and the end to which all things are ordered. The One who speaks, who communicates Himself, not mere information.
The Jewish understanding of Fatherhood is embedded in the notion of Divine Providence. Nothing happens by chance. Everything happens for a reason and it is ordered by the Father for the greater good. What this good is and how it will come about is not their prerogative to know, but it is their responsibility to trust the Father. He alone knows what He is doing. This accounts for the Jewish attitude of perseverance and hope in the face of trials and persecution.
This understanding of the Fatherhood of God is truly the ground of reality. For our failure to accept His Fatherhood has consequences. According to St. John Paul II, “At the root of the Fall is a failure to grasp the nature of God’s Fatherhood… at the centre of the first temptation, and at the heart of all rebellion against God, is a disordered vision of God that distorts Him into a master who seeks to oppress us…” instead of the Father who sets us free to share His own life.
Second, the Trinity names the reason for creation. Many materialists, like Carl Sagan, believe “the cosmos is all there is and all there ever will be”. They believe creation exists for itself, as such, we can do whatever we like. But that is not true. The cosmos is not all there is. Creation is part of God’s family. The language of Genesis 1: 31, “God saw everything He had created and indeed it was very good”, indicates it was very much like the Good from which it came.
So, the Father, who from all eternity fathers the Son, fathers also all that came to be through His Son. Thus, it was only natural that the Father wills all creation to be where His Son is. In other words, creation does not exist for itself. It exists for communion with God. According to the Catechism it is in that communion that creation, we in particular find worth and dignity. But since we failed to accept His Fatherhood, His Son became part of creation to redeem us.
Redemption here is not a mere act of paying our debts. It is in the Jewish sense in which the elder son is sent by his father to enter the condition of the one who is to be redeemed, to pay his or her debt and to bring the one redeemed home. In other words, the Son, our Elder Brother redeemed us, and He gave us the reason for creation: “All things were created in Christ, through Christ and for Christ… He is before all things and in Him all things hold together”, Colossians 1:16-17.
Third, the Trinity names the means by which God saves the human race and the whole of creation. Redemption is a one-off event. Christ redeemed us once. He revealed the Father to us and set us on a journey home. However, He knew on our own we cannot reach home. So, He asked the Father to send us “the Holy Spirit”, who according to Karl Barth, “makes the Son present today. He also makes present the effect of our redemption, making our journey home possible.
In conclusion, we gather today to encounter the God who is One in Being, and three in Persons. We gather to learn from Him how we can appreciate our oneness as human beings without destroying our differences as individual persons from different backgrounds, with different opportunities and living for a different purpose. We gather to hear again that we are being fathered by the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit. We are on a journey to our true native land, heaven – a place in God.
Fr. Francis Afu