Fr Nigel’s Homily: As Catholics, every prayer that we say begins in the Name of the Holy Trinity and ends with glorifying the Trinity. All our sacraments from baptism, confirmation, communion, reconciliations, anointing of the sick, marriage and ordinations; we bless ourselves, and the priest blesses us in the name of the Trinity. Why do we do this?
The early Christians struggled to put into words the nature of God. There were many theological debates and church councils about the mystery of the Holy Trinity. Applying theological language to a Christian community’s experience of God is never easy and sometimes a simple form helps to go deeper into the mystery: God, creator of the heavens and earth, became human like us in Jesus and still dwells with us and guides us through the Holy Spirit.
If we are still trying to understand this great mystery and are stuck, we then take comfort in St. Augustine’s words ‘If you have understood, then what you have understood is not God!’
However, it should not stop us in our quest to understand, knowing that we will never understand fully. Today’s Gospel reveals something of the union between God and Son. They are entirely unified in their loving action in and for the world. “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son . . . “ and “God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved”. The Holy Spirit is also seen to be relationally distinct from both the Father and the Son in Scripture as both the Father and the Son are seen as “sending” “him.” But when the Counsellor comes (the Holy Spirit), whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness of me… (John 15:26). … he will guide you into all truth (John 16:13).
The relational distinction is real, and personal, but the Holy Spirit, like the eternal Son, is revealed to be God “He will guide you into all truth.” In fact, I Cor. 2:10 also reveals the Holy Spirit to be omniscient when it says, “… no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” The Holy Spirit is revealed in Scripture to possess the same infinite and divine nature as does the Father and the Son.
In our fractured, hurting world where injustices are revealed just below the surface of ordinary life— in the US right now, and in our own country—the unity and abiding love of the Trinity is a powerful exemplar. Our quest is to bring love into a hurting world; not judgement, not revenge, not hate, not payback, not anger, but Love and forgiveness.
The Holy Trinity is a mystery, and we will never fully understand the heights and the depths of God’s boundless love, for it is also an extraordinary mystery. But how wonderful that we can be part of this love and put ourselves in the space of this great love every time we bless ourselves and every time we receive the sacraments.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.