Trinity Sunday 2011

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The concept of the Trinity; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit has been the source of much confusion, misuse, and controversy from generation to generation.

Throughout history, there have been voices saying, “How can God be three and be one at the same time? That’s impossible.”

But, beloved, what other people would call impossible we Christians would call it a “paradox”. A paradox can be described as “A statement that contradicts or seems to contradict itself, yet often expresses a truth.

On many occasions, Jesus talked in paradox.  In John 14 he said: “How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?”

In today’s gospel we clearly see that paradox: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of heaven”. And that statement prompted the question that Nicodemus asked: “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

The same paradox is present in today’s celebration called “Trinity Sunday”. It is wrong to say that the Trinity is a doctrine. It is not! Trinity is a person, three persons in one. That’s where we see the paradox. How can three persons be one?

Trinity is the name by which we identify the God we worship, the God we know as Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit. On Trinity Sunday, we focus on God’s being, as oppose to the rest of the year where we focus on God’s doing.

The biblical term is “Godhead” (theiotes) and it is used three times in the scriptures, Act 17:29; Romans 1:20; Colossians 2:9. In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus gave His disciples the Great Commission stating they were to teach and baptize in the names of the Godhead, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

Further 1 John 5:7 says, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”


The question to us this morning is this: what is the practical application of the Trinity in our lives?

It has always been difficult for me to preach on this particular Sunday. The whole concept of Trinity is so difficult to grasp. Saint Thomas of Aquinas spent his entire life trying to understand it. But he could not finish the work, and he died with it.

Therefore, instead of trying to define and to formulate a theology of religion about the concept of Trinity, I suggest that we focus on the message that the Holy Trinity has for us today.

The Trinity is the origin of Christianity. Without it we cannot understand Christianity. What would Christmas, Easter and Pentecost mean if there was no Trinity? The Mass begins and ends with the sign of the cross, the profession of faith in the Trinity. All of the prayers of the Mass are offered to the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit.

The Trinity is the model for our lives. We are made in the “image of God,” in the image of the Trinity. By contemplating the Trinity we can learn a lot about ourselves and about the way we should live. The Trinity is a COMMUNITY OF PERSONS. There are no isolated and self-sufficient individuals. There are three equal Persons living together in community. Each Person needs the other two Persons to be God. We need each other to be truly human. We are social beings.

This community of persons is a COMMUNITY OF LOVE. The essence of the Trinity is a personal relationship of love between the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Love should also be the factor that defines the Christian community. We are rooted and grounded in love. We all have a need to love and be loved. Love is creative, fulfilling and healing. It heals both the one who gives it and the one who receives it.

In the Trinity there is UNITY in DIVERSITY. Each Person is unique and all share in the divine nature in perfect unity. Each one of us is unique but we share a common origin, common nature and a common destiny. The Christian community begins with the acceptance of this unity in diversity. It is this diversity that gives glory to God. Unfortunately for us, diversity is a source of fear, suspicion, hatred, and division.

If we live our lives caring less for ourselves than for others we will honor God, and we will be fulfilling all the commandments of Christ, and we will be living in the Spirit. This is how the concept of Trinity can be meaningful in our lives. And this is the Good News for us today!