Fr. Paul Patrick, O.M.I.
Posted: May 29, 2021
Today we celebrate Trinity Sunday. This Sunday was formally added to the Church’s liturgical calendar in the year 1334 by Pope John XXII. It stands out among many of the other special days which we celebrate in the Church since it is not linked to any specific historical or theological event. It is instead a day not unlike a birthday: a day in which we celebrate a person and reflect on our relationship with them. In celebrating Trinity Sunday we celebrate God in 3 Persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit and reflect on our relationship with God.
- What is the Trinity?
It is important to realize that the Trinity is not a logical explanation of God. It is rather a description of who we know God to be. It is a mystery which we can appreciate, even while failing to understand it. The Church teaches us that God is 3 persons in one nature: in other words, that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit together are God. Anything more or less than that is mere speculation on our part.
- Relationship between the Trinity and the Church:
I had a Jesuit professor at the Gregorian University who used this quote from the French aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery (b.1900) to help understand the relationship of the Trinity to the Church: “If you want to build a ship, don’t herd people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
The relationship we as a living Church have with God in the Trinity is in some sense a longing to deepen and explore the unknown. This endless mystery draws us in and fascinates us. The desire to know and deepen our relationship with God is ultimately what drives our “shipbuilding” or our life of faith in the Church.
- What can meditating on the Trinity teach us?
In today’s Gospel according to St. Matthew, we read about the Great Commission (Mt 28:16-20). In this scene, the disciples are sent to all nations (cf. Mt 28:18). This command is preceded by a revelation (cf. Mt 28:17) and followed by a promise (cf. Mt 28:20) all of which are prefaced by the word “all” giving it universality. Jesus has been given all authority, the disciples are to preach the Gospel and make disciples of all nations, and Jesus will be with His followers through the Holy Spirit all the days.
This universality of the Trinity – which St. Paul speaks about in today’s 2nd reading allows us to recognize God as our Father and to recognize that just as the Trinity are diverse Persons, they are united by the bond of love (cf. Rm 8:14-17). This unity in the midst of diversity is what every baptized Christian is called to. We are all diverse and quite different as individuals, but we are all united and are all one people through our faith.
Thus, Trinity Sunday celebrates what we know to be true: God does not live in isolation but rather in a community of love, a community of relationship. God by His nature is not a recluse. The Trinity inspires us to develop a personal theology which does not run from others into isolation but rather one which seeks to build communion with society. Following the Most Holy Trinity leads us to a worldview which seeks not to retreat away from the world but rather enter into it, with a mind set on transforming what is dark and negative into light and truth through the power of love.