Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. May 26th 2013
Proverbs 8:22-31; Rom 5:1-5; Jn 16:12-15
Good News!! I will not attempt to explain the Holy Trinity to you. Many intelligent people who tried to do so in the past have been left speechless. So I will not attempt to explain how we can have three distinct divine persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and still have only one God. I will not even try to explain how God the Father can be truly God, God the Son be truly God, and God the Holy Spirit be truly God, and we still profess that we believe in one God, a unity in trinity. But if we are going to understand what it means to be created in the image and likeness of God, we need to reflect on the dogma of the Most Holy Trinity to see what our faith in the Triune God demands of us.
A few months ago I traveled to the United States for a Mission Appeal. I raised some money for our mission along with a few bags of my favorite candy, Peanut M&Ms. It was not a bad result at all!! On my return, I gave one bag of my precious candy to the about 10 Missionaries of Charity sisters here in Antipolo as my Pasalubong (gift) to them. When I visited them a few days later, one of the sisters said to me, “We all enjoyed the candy. All the children really loved them. Thank you so much.” I was shocked because they have close to 60 abandoned and sickly children with them in the orphanage. So close to 70 people shared one bag of Peanut M&Ms!!! I wonder if they got up to three pieces each! I them wished I had brought a lot more Peanut M&Ms back with me.
These religious sisters reminded me of what it means to be an image of God – to treat others as equals before God and to be ready to share all that we have and are with them. It is not about having much or many. Following the way of their founder, Blessed Theresa of Calcutta, the sisters have a spirituality of seeing Jesus in all people and to respond to His love in the poorest of the poor. They did not keep their single imported bag of Peanut M&Ms to themselves. They did not consider that it was their privilege to enjoy the “candy from the US” all alone. By seeing the poor and abandoned Christ in their sick and abandoned children, the sisters treated them all as their equals before God and willingly shared the little that they had with them.
In the Most Blessed Trinity, we also see these two things present in an infinite degree – equality and complete giving of self among the three diving persons. They are equal to each other. The Father is truly God, the Son is truly God and the Holy Spirit is also truly God. There is no rivalry or competition here. In addition, they give themselves to each other completely and do not hold anything back. God the Father is the source of all being, and from all eternity, He communicates all that He has and all that He is to the Son. From all eternity, the Son receives all from the Father and communicates all back to the Father in a love so intense that the person of the Holy Spirit proceeds from that eternal complete exchange of love between Father and Son.
Today’s reading from the Book of Proverbs has the Wisdom of God being intimately united with God in the work of creation. The Lord God possessed this Wisdom “from the beginning of His ways” and “poured Him forth before the earth.” This Wisdom was “brought forth” when “there was no depths, no fountains, springs of water or hills.” This Wisdom is the eternally begotten Son of the Father. He receives all that He is and all that He has from the Father from all eternity. He was eternally generated by the Father even before time itself began in creation. Jesus, Son of God, the Word-made-flesh, personifies this wisdom.
Today’s Gospel sees Jesus now affirming that He is the Son who receives all from the Father: “Everything that the Father has is mine.” But Jesus does not keep anything back for Himself, but He and the Father communicate all to each other in and through the Holy Spirit. It is also through this Holy Spirit that we share in what really belongs to Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit will not keep things to Himself and will not glorify Himself but will “glorify Jesus Christ” by “taking from what is Christ’s and declaring it to us.” We thus see nothing but equality and mutual and complete communication in love of all things among the three divine persons.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, as people created in the image and likeness of God, this image of God is visible first and foremost on our immortal souls and secondly in the human family. In our lives and in our relations, beginning with our families, we too must reflect both the attitude of treating others as equals before God no matter our status. We must also have a willingness to share with them all that we are and all that we have. We must resist the temptation of looking down on others or treating them as if we were somehow better off no matter the status that we obtain in life. We must see all as having equal dignity before God and purchased by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. And then we must not hold back in sharing with them the good that we possess. Mutual and complete gift of self is a natural consequence of deeply realizing that we are all equal before God.
All of the Church’s teaching on morality revolves around this ability to see others as created in the image and likeness of God and our response in sharing all that we have with them. The Church will always show preferential treatment to the poor and call us to share what we have with them. Pornography and prostitution will always be morally wrong because they involve using another person for sexual gratification and a failure to treat them as equals before God. Artificial contraception is morally wrong also because it does not reflect or lead to mutual respect and equality among the spouses. A contraceptive mentality basically conveys a message between the spouses: “You are needed to satisfy my urges whenever and however and I will hold back in giving myself completely to you.” We can never use others for an end and still pretend to treat them with equality. Nothing can be further from the complete self-giving that we see in the Most Holy Trinity. The unborn have a right to life no matter the circumstances of their conception because they too bear this image of God and we all have a duty to share with them the gift of life that we have received from God. Can we ignore these demands for equality and mutual sharing that comes from our relationship with the Triune God and still pretend to be acting as persons created in the image and likeness of God? It is not possible. How we treat others and our readiness to improve their lot through our loving relations determines how authentic we are as images of God.
We talk a lot about the grace of God but where does that grace come from? Grace comes from the Triune God as a gift from the three divine persons. Grace is a gift created by God the Father, it is merited for us by God the Son becoming man, suffering, dying and rising from the grave, and it is diffused in our souls by the Holy Spirit. Why is this grace given to us? It is given to us to make us better images of the Triune God, to move us to treat others as equals before God and to share with them all that we have no matter what pains it costs us. St. Paul reminds the Romans in the Second Reading of the abiding peace and certain hope that we have here on earth because “the Love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” By the grace of God, even in the midst of our earthly afflictions, God’s grace moves us from within to act as true images of God, determined to treat others as equals before God and to give of our selves completely. By so doing, this image of God is perfected in us until we see God in the world to come.
With confidence we turn to Mother Mary, Our Lady of the Blessed Trinity. Mary is the first person to hear explicitly the revelation of the Most Blessed Trinity and to put her faith in the Triune God. At the moment of the Annunciation, the Angel Gabriel had said to her, “The Holy Spirit will descend upon you and the power of the Most High (i.e. the Father) will overshadow you and the child to be born (i.e. the Son) will be called holy, the Son of God.” In her wisdom and humility, she did not seek to understand this mystery but she strived to live out the implications in her life. What did she do after the angel left her? She went in haste to visit her cousin Elizabeth and to serve her for three months. The Mother of God goes to visit and serve the mother of the precursor John the Baptist! Though she is the chosen Mother of God, the humble virgin treated Elizabeth as her equal such that Elizabeth cried out, “Who am I that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?” Mother Mary shows us how to treat others as equals before God and to share with them what we have.
Like Mary and with Mary, let us to too go “in haste” to our brothers and sisters, treat them as equals before God and share with them all that we have. We will never understand the dogma of the Most Blessed Trinity until we come before the face of God in heaven. But let us here on earth, by the grace of God, strive to live out the equality and mutual self-giving that we see in that mystery so that we will indeed be and act as persons created in the image and likeness of the One Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; As it was in the beginning, it is now and ever shall be world without end. Amen.