Solemnity of Holy Trinity. June 15th, 2014.
Ex 34:4-6,8-9; 2Cor 13:11-13; Jn 3:16-18
Believing in the Trinity
I was involved in an auto accident a few weeks after I arrived here in the Philippines. Fortunately the young motor bike rider who had collided with my car was not badly injured and his bike needed some minor repair. After I had settled his medical bills and consoled him, he said to me, “Father, I believe that I had this auto accident and that I am injured and my bike is damaged because God is punishing me for not coming to Church on Sundays and for living with my girlfriend and having kids without getting married.” He believed in a God who exists and who acts in his life. That was as far as his faith in God went and there was nothing that I could say to make him change his mind about God punishing him for his moral failures.
What difference does it make to believe in the Trinity, that there are three divine persons in this one God? It is one thing to believe that there is a God and that this God acts in our lives and in our world. Most religions believe this about God. God’s existence and His ability to act are usually accepted. However, faith in the Trinity demands from us something more than believing in a solitary acting God. If we believe in the Trinity, that that are three divine persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit in One Godhead, then we believe that this constantly acting God always acts purely out of love for us. The Triune God does not act because we are good and deserving of His loving actions. Neither does God act because He needs something from us that He does not already possess in its fullness and perfection.
Let us reflect on the inner life of the Trinity. The Father is truly God and He is perfect and owns all things. The Son is truly God, He is perfect and He owns all things. The Holy Spirit is truly God, He is perfect and He owns all things. These three divine persons exist in an infinitely perfect communion of love and life. There is nothing that we creatures can add to this that is not already present to the divine persons. We owe all things to God: “In God we live and move and have our being.” Why then does God act out of love?
Jesus answers this question in today’s Gospel passage. He attests that God acts out of love for us, “God so loved the world.” This divine love is expressed in action, in a complete gift of self: “That He gave His only Son.” Jesus also tells us for what purpose God acts out of love: “So that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.” God acts out of love because He wants to share with us that life, love and happiness that is eternally and superabundantly present to the persons of the Trinity. He acts purely out of love and not because we are good. And most importantly, He does not act to “condemn the world” but that “the world might be saved through Him.”
In the First Reading, the Jews have just broken the Commandments and worshipped the golden calf in Ex 32. Moses, in a rage, literally broke the tablets containing the Commandments. God continues to act with love for His people and gives Moses the Law a second time even when they are unfaithful to Him. He reveals Himself to Moses as the “merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.” He forgives past sins and His graciousness is not diminished by the infidelity of His chosen people. His loving actions are not conditioned on the moral state of His people.
It is Jesus Christ alone who reveals this inner life of the Trinity and graciously communicates this life to us. Our Christian faith is more than believing in an active God whose motive for acting can be sometimes vindictive; but we believe in a God who always acts out of love for us to grant us a participation in His own love, life, and happiness. Out of His love for us, the Father communicates to us a share in His own existence. Out of His love for us, the Son gave Himself to us completely even unto death on the Cross and rose again to merit for us a share in the Spirit of love and life. Out of His love for us, the Spirit continues the work of sanctifying souls in the world today. Out of this divine gratuity, God “shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8) All these actions of the divine persons are to introduce us now into this participation of divine life, love and happiness. They are neither reward for being good nor are they meant to deprive us of something for the benefit the divine persons.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we believe in a God who acts but does our faith in the Triune God make us see all His actions as acts of love for us? Do we ever see our trials and setbacks in life as a punishment from God for our past sins and failures? Do we tend to focus on the demands of the Gospel as God’s way of killing our joy and not as a call to share in His happiness? Do we judge God’s love for us by our situations in life? Are the demands of our vocations merely things to be endured or our path to divine friendship? Unless our faith is truly rooted in the Trinity, we cannot accept this love behind all of God’s actions.
In the Second Reading, St. Paul calls the divided Christians to respond to this love of the Trinity by being images of the divine persons and divine communion. The “(Triune) God of love and peace will be with them” despite their moral failures and divisive tendencies if they would respond to His love. They will be images of the holy divine persons when they continuously “mend their ways.” They will reflect the communion among the divine persons when they too choose to “encourage one another, agree with one another, and live in peace.” Likewise, our faith in the Triune God will be livelier when we respond to God’s love by embracing a life of continuous repentance from sin and selfishness, choosing to live in peace with others and encouraging them in goodness. We must do all this out of love because if God acts out of love for us, shouldn’t our response to this love also be out of love?
In this Eucharist, the Trinity continues to act out of love. The Father’s gift of His Son is re-presented to us. The Son offers Himself to us and bestows on us the Holy Spirit. It is never because we are good or because the divine persons need something from us. It is only because the Triune God wants to share with us something that the divine persons alone possess – divine love, life and happiness. We miss all this if we do not believe in the Holy Trinity, the God that acts always out of love for us despite our poverty and sinfulness.
Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!