Today we celebrate what I consider the most important Solemnity for our time. Obviously, the most important solemnity for the history of our faith is Easter, the Resurrection of Christ. St. Paul reminds us that if there was no resurrection then we would be wasting our time.
So that is the most important solemnity, but for our present day the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity is key. The reason is simple: We proclaim our belief in one God and three persons. What does that mean? Well, it is a doctrine that we cannot fully understand. Why is that important? Because it reveals a key principle of human existence: there are realities in our universe that we are incapable of fully understanding. That principle is the beginning of faith.
As Catholics our faith does not begin with believing in something that does not exist, that makes no sense. It begins with realizing that reality is bigger than our ability to perceive it. This is the difference between the Catholic and the atheist. The atheist believes that since he cannot see God, then God does not exist. That implies that only what humans can perceive is all that exists. However, that idea which has been part of human existence for its full history has been disproven over and over again. God and His universe are so much greater than our ability to understand them. Our faith is based on this truth.
We as a race discovered that the world is not flat although that is the way one perceives it, to the reality that the sun does not revolve around the Earth even though that is the way one perceives it, to fact that there is more to the universe than strictly the matter—constructions of atoms and molecules—than you and I can perceive on our own. Jesus teaches that God is Spirit, which is beyond the reality of matter.
It is within this truth that we learn that God is one God, but comprised of three persons who share a love for each other and then share that infinite love with us. We witness to that truth and we have the vocation to experience that love in Christ and pass it on to others. So we have the vocation to live out of a deeper truth than those who reject what we believe. Remember: God and His universe are so much greater than our ability to understand them.
This is why this day is so important, it is one that proclaims the powerful truth that God is real and he is one God in three persons. St. Paul reminds us of the truth that God is love.
Today’s Gospel reflects this truth. We learn that this love of God for all of us is reflected in Jesus coming to be one of us, living, then dying and rising in order that all may know this powerful love and become saved by it. St. John in this most famous gospel passage reminds us to live the truth that God loves the world and sends his Son that all who might believe in him may have eternal life. The obvious question is how do we live this truth in which we believe in Christ and act upon this belief.
This belief must have as much an impact on our life as other earth shattering realities that exist today. It reflects spiritual truths that are as powerful as physical truths we deal with today.
Let me give you an example: Copernicus’ discovery that the Earth revolved around the sun was so earth shattering that it took two hundred years for people to fully comprehend it. Yet, that truth is nothing compared to the Earth shattering reality that God exists, that He is three persons in one God. That God defines love, shares this love with us and calls us to share this love with others. We must understand that to understand this love is a task that takes a lifetime to learn and to share this love with those around us. We mourn for those who choose to reject God’s loving action and we encourage those who no matter how weakly choose to seek God’s truth more deeply.
Paul Paul VI in Humanae Vitae illustrated it well, when he acknowledged the difficulty of the church’s teaching states well how to display this love for others in our time when he teaches:
Now it is an outstanding manifestation of charity toward souls to omit nothing from the saving doctrine of Christ; but this must always be joined with tolerance and charity, as Christ Himself showed in His conversations and dealings with men. For when He came, not to judge, but to save the world, was He not bitterly severe toward sin, but patient and abounding in mercy toward sinners? (Humanae Vitae 29)
As Christ lived this way of love towards others, so we have a mission to do the same. To live the truth and to guide others to this truth so they might understand it and embrace it and live it as powerfully as we live the scientific truths that guide our lives everyday.
This is why this solemnity is so important, it is to teach the powerful spiritual truths of our faith that are just as real as the physical truths. We celebrate it to proclaim that the Trinity is not only real, but this God who is love is to be embraced so that we can become fully human and fully alive not only understanding the truths of science but those deeper truths of faith that lead us to understand more deeply whom we are. This enables us to love others more deeply and proclaim God’s love to all and to teach them that: God and His universe are so much greater than our ability to understand them.
This make us more like the ancient mariners who dared to challenge the belief that the world was flat. So we must live our life in a way that demonstrates the truth of one God in three persons.
Photo: esa/hubble via commons.wikimedia.org