Solemnity of the MOST HOLY TRINITY (2022)
Although the Easter season ends with the great solemnity of Pentecost celebrating the gift of the Holy Spirit, there is just a little more that the liturgical life of the Church wants to teach us before we return to the Sundays in Ordinary Time. In some way, these additional Sunday celebrations/solemnities after Pentecost highlight what is central and essential to our faith – the mysteries of the Trinity and the Eucharist, two mysteries without which our faith would not exist or be nourished.
The Collect (Opening Prayer) for today’s liturgy gives us a précis of today’s celebration as well as of our Trinitarian faith: “God our Father [one person], who by sending into the world the Word of truth [second person] and the Spirit of sanctification [third person] made known to the human race your wondrous mystery, grant us, we pray, that in professing the true faith, we may acknowledge the Trinity of eternal glory and adore your Unity, powerful in majesty.” Note that prayers to the Father always end with a Trinitarian formula: “Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who. Lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, [one] God, for ever and ever.” If we wonder how much the mystery of the Trinity impacts our lives, we need only think of the number of times in our lifetimes that we have invoked the Trinity with every prayer we uttered: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
Countless saints have tried to simplify our understanding of “three separate and distinct persons in one God,” the most common as children being St. Patrick’s simple shamrock, but none of them can take away the profound mystery which we will never fully understand. The first reading from Proverbs reminds us that the God we know so well because He “emptied himself” of all privilege by taking on human flesh, is the same God that existed “when there were no depths… when there were no fountains or springs of water; before the mountains were settled into place… when the Lord established the heavens,” the Son of God existed.
Our theological understanding of our Trinitarian faith is because God has revealed Himself in the pages of our inspired Scriptures as “three distinct persons” in a single God. We are not like the Romans of Jesus’ time who worshipped a panoply of gods who governed all things. We worship a single God who was manifested in fullness in the person of Jesus Christ whose Father was God, and whose Spirit, still at work in our world, is also God. It would take time for the young Church to flesh out as best as it could a theological understanding of the Trinity, but even Paul, in our second reading to the Romans, gives us all the language we need to understand why we worship the Trinity. Since we have been justified by faith,” Paul tells us, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God….and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” The Trinity will never cease to be a mystery, but in our prayers, our worship, and the Scriptures, we can draw closer to that mystery which is at the very heart of the faith we profess.