Discovering that Jesus is God, and that God is three

This is a translation of the Spanish homily I preached.
Most Holy Trinity, Year C: May 26, 2013
Prov 8:22-31; Ps 8; Rom 5:1-5; John 16:12-15

Today we celebrate the truth of the Most Holy Trinity: the great truth that the God we worship is one God in three persons: the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. That God is three, in one way, and is one, in another way: that God is three distinct divine persons, one divine nature, one divine substance.

And we know that this is a distinctively Christian truth. Each Mass begins with the words, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Each person is baptized with the words: “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” We recall this often when we make the sign of the cross, and when we bless ourselves with holy water, and when we conclude our prayers: “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit…”

And it is a truth that other religions do not know. Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims; even the Jewish people, whom the popes have called our “older brothers in the faith”; none of these know the truth that God is a Trinity of persons. Only Catholics and Orthodox and Protestants know this: it is a distinctively Christian truth.

And how did we learn it? Not just by thinking about God with our human reason, for no one can discover the truth of the Trinity that way. Rather, God told us this truth; he revealed it to us. And he revealed it to us by events that we have experienced: by the mission of the Son; by the mission of the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes I hear people speak of “God and Jesus.” And that is not a bad place to start. It is surely the place that Jesus’ disciples started: for as good Jews they believed in one God; and then they saw that this man Jesus was very close to God, and spoke powerful truths, and performed great miracles; and they followed him, to be with him and learn from him. And as they did so, they heard him say things like we heard in today’s Gospel reading, where he spoke of “the Father,” and of their relationship, and of how “everything that the Father has is mine.” They saw how he spoke to him and listened to him and followed his will.

And they learned that Jesus was not just a mere man, created by God 30 years before, like we are. They learned that Jesus was not made but begotten, as a son is begotten by a father; and not 30 years before, but before all ages. They learned that it is not truly “God and Jesus,” but “God the Father and God the Son”: that Jesus had been a divine person with the divine nature, true God, from all eternity; until the Father had sent him forth on his mission to redeem us, and he took on our human nature as well, so that he is true God and true man.

And when Christ then sent forth the Holy Spirit, as he promised that he would, they learned that he too is God: the third person of the Holy Trinity, God the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. And thus was revealed to us the truth of the Holy Trinity: three divine persons, one divine nature, one God.

And this truth is revealed to us: so that we can speak this great truth with our own lips, as we do in the Creed; so that we can know God better with our minds and so love him better with our hearts; but also so that we can live it.

For in baptism we were united to Jesus and we received divine adoption. He is the Only Begotten Son of the Father; but in baptism he has made us adopted sons and daughters of the Father. And he wants us to live out that sonship: knowing and loving the Father, speaking to and listening to the Father, being obedient to the Father, and receiving everything from the Father, just as he does.

And he has given us his Holy Spirit to dwell within our hearts, to help us to do just that: to embrace this glorious, supernatural truth of the Most Holy Trinity, and so to live a glorious, supernatural life.


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