Jesus said to his disciples: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.
Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you” Jn16:12-15). Taken from this Sunday’s gospel for the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.
- This gospel of St. John is proposed for our reflection on this Trinity Sunday partly because it contains a mention of “Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” The Holy Trinity is not an ab initio revelation at the beginning of Yahwism. God firstly revealed himself to Abraham and Moses as well as to the entire children of Israel as a unique God: “I am the Lord, there is no other.” It took the coming of the prophets for God to manifest himself as Holy Spirit. It was also with the prophets that the revelation about the suffering servant of God, the Messiah was known. However, the knowledge about the Holy Spirit and the Messiah did not become understood as their being distinct persons, equal in dignity with God.
The coming of Christ, his life and ministry brought to the fore the idea of one God with multiple persons. On the day of his baptism, the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in form of a dove while the voice of the Father declared: “This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased.” This incident did not stop the Jews from accusing Jesus of blasphemy. It was for this that they killed him “for being a man he calls himself son of God, thereby making himself God’s equal.” After his rising from the dead, just before he ascended to heaven, Jesus still emphasized the Trinity of persons in one God.
Convincing the early Christians that God is three in one was not an easy task for the disciples who were themselves coming from a tradition that has always known a single person in a single God. St Paul made it a habit to start all his letters with a greeting in the name of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
After the apostles the struggle continued until the year 325 AD when at the Council of Nicea the faithful decided to codify the faith with a creed which should be a summary of the christian faith. The creed is known as Nicean creed and its shorter form is known as the apostles’ creed.We recite them at mass and at the beginning of rosary respectively. In both creeds, the believe in one God with three persons were formally validated by all.
It was thus from that time that the doctrine become accepted. But do we understand what it means to have three persons in one God? In truth nobody has been able to clearly explain this. Most people who tried it ended up in heresy. It is easy to accept but difficult to explain. All that is important is to know that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The three persons live in love and collaboration, each discharging his duty without competition. God the Father is the creator, God the Son is the redeemer and God the Holy Spirit is the sanctifier.
- What does today’s gospel tell us about this mystery? First of all Jesus affirmed that all that the Father has, his power, authority etc, belong to him. Who can make such claim but God. It was based on this authority that he gave the missionary mandate to his apostles, commissioning them to make disciples of not just the Jews but all nations.
If Jesus has all authority, his followers should live with confidence, knowing that no evil can befall them if it has not been authorized by God. The early disciples lived with this certitude and were able to endure hardship and persecution because of Jesus. Again, Jesus made a great promise to his followers assuring them that he will be with them through the Holy Spirit who will reveal to them all that they need to know till the end of time. This too should inspire the believer to live with confidence.
- You grew up to know about the Trinity without trying to understand it. In doing the sign of the cross, in beginning and ending your prayers, at the beginning and ending of Eucharistic celebration etc you habitually affirm your belief in the Trinity. Today, the celebration of the Trinity invites you to live in unity with those around you, to work in collaboration and not in competition with others, to be satisfied with your position without envying others.
God is not solitary but social. He invites you to be open to others and not live in self-sufficiency. Even though we are different persons we all have the same Trinity living in us. The God in you is the same God in me. We are therefore one like God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. @ Vita, 12/06/22.
Peace and security upon you.