Today is the feast day of the Holy Trinity, the day on which we especially celebrate this core mystery that is central to our faith as Catholic Christians. During the homily this morning at Mass, our parish priest, Fr. Andy, said something that I thought was just great and I wanted to pass it on for you guys to think about. Too often when we think of the Trinity, he said, we go into scholastic mode and we try to pick apart and figure out what this mystery really means so that we can wrap our minds around God.We think to ourselves: Okay, so it’s 3=1 and 1=3. One God, Three Persons. Each Person is God fully and entirely while being distinct Persons. The Father isn’t the Son, the Son isn’t the Father, and the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son, yet everything true of one Person is true of the other two except the relational name…
And in doing that, we can miss the point. God is not some distant Being who floats around in outer space and has no contact with us. The real way to know God is by experience, not just through doctrine because doctrine is born from experience. This is the Trinity as Fr. Andy put it: God for us, God with us, and God within us. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And the readings today illustrate that point beautifully.
Let’s take a look at the readings for this Sunday, shall we?
Moses said to the people: “Ask now of the days of old, before your time, ever since God created man upon the earth; ask from one end of the sky to the other: Did anything so great ever happen before? Was it ever heard of? Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live? Or did any god venture to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, with strong hand and outstretched arm, and by great terrors, all of which the LORD, your God, did for you in Egypt before your very eyes? This is why you must now know, and fix in your heart, that the LORD is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other.
You must keep his statutes and commandments that I enjoin on you today, that you and your children after you may prosper, and that you may have long life on the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you forever.” -Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40
We see in this reading that God is for His people. He has delivered them, fought for them, and defended them against those who would have harmed them.
Brothers and sisters: For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a Spirit of adoption, through whom we cry, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. -Romans 8:14-17
God is with us in the Person of Christ, Emmanuel who came to ransom us from our sins. He became one of us, suffered like us, and died for us. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we have been brought back into right relationship with God.
The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they all saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” -Matthew 28:16-20
God is both for us and with us, but with the coming of the Holy Spirit He is also within us. God dwells in each one of us, which makes our relationship to God personal and intimate (as well as communal), not distant.
This is me talking now, so anything I say from here on out that no one likes is my bad, not Father’s. I think that too often, we seek God only in textbooks, as Father said, and I know that I have personally done this before. We want to know as much stuff as we can about Him, but we fail to realize that the best way to learn about God and to grow in Him is through prayer. God isn’t in a textbook! Now, don’t get me wrong here, I’m not dissing Church doctrine and I’m not saying that it isn’t worth learning (because I’m a book worm and I never would say books aren’t worth your time), because that side of it is very important. It guides our understanding of God.
But think about it this way. If you’re going to marry someone, is it enough to just read the profile they have on eHarmony? All you’ll learn from that is what their favorite color is and maybe what they like to do. But is that enough? Well, no! You have to meet them personally, sit down and have a conversation with them, in order to learn more about them. You see the parallel I’m drawing here? Learning about God in a theology class is great and we should do that, but that’s not going to give us the whole picture. We have to meet God in the silence of our hearts and speak to Him there in loving conversation. Then and only then will we truly grow in our understanding of who God is.