Trinity Sunday, year A
First reading: Ex 34: 4b-6, 8-9
Second reading: 2 Cor 13: 11-13
Reading of the Gospel: Jn 3: 16-18
This Sunday we celebrate what the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls “the central mystery” of our faith: that the unique God is not one Person, but three.
It is not something that we could have discovered on our own. This is something God made clear during His progressive self-revelation to His chosen people, exemplified in two of this Sunday’s readings.
Everything Catholics believe relates to the Holy Trinity. For example, in creeds we say we believe in God the Father and then mention the doctrines of creation and providence. We say that we believe in God the Son and then mention the doctrines of the Incarnation, Redemption, Resurrection, and Ascension. We say that we believe in God the Holy Spirit, and then mention the doctrines on the scriptures, the Church, the sacraments, and our own resurrection.
In her doctrine of the Holy Trinity, the Church speaks to us of God. For example, she explains the claim made throughout the New Testament that God is to like. If God were one Person, the Church couldn’t say that, because love is something that a person has for another person.
The kind of love found in the Holy Trinity is called, in Greek, agape. Agape is love that gives, seeking nothing in return, not even gratitude or love. It is simply and totally the gift of oneself to the one we love.
Saint Augustine suggested that we can think of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit as Lover, Beloved, and Love, or Giver, Recipient, and Gift. First, God is a Lover, he explains: the one who surrenders himself to God. Second, he is the Beloved, the one who rejoices in this love and gives it back. Third, he is the Gift of that love itself.
We can then think of God as an endless and infinite explosion of self-giving. No wonder some pagans considered the sun to be God!
However, in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, the Church also speaks to us about ourselves, for God deliberately made humans in his image and likeness.
In the first creation account of Genesis, God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Consequently, “in the divine image he created him; male and female, he created them.
The plural in “we” and “our”, says Saint Augustine, implies that “the image of the Trinity was made in man, so that man may thus be the image of the one true God”.
In the second creation account, God created man, but then he said, “It is not good that man be alone. Accordingly, he made a wife and decreed that “the two shall become as one.”
Man therefore does not only imagine the God who created and governs the world, “but also, and essentially”, the God who is a “divine communion of persons”, declared Pope Saint John Paul II in his Theology of the body.
The human being can be defined as the creature who can love. We are created to be lovers. This is what makes us human: the ability to give ourselves in love.
Furthermore, God’s plan is to draw us into the Holy Trinity, so that we may participate in his beatitude.
“At the heart of the divine act of creation is the divine desire to make room for created persons in the communion of uncreated persons” of the Trinity, says the International Theological Commission. “The ultimate end of the whole divine economy” – the sacraments of the Church, by which God dispenses divine life to us – “is the entry of the creatures of God into the perfect unity of the Holy Trinity”, says the Catechism.
No wonder the Church usually uses the greeting of Saint Paul: “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”