Sunday Sermon for June 16, 2019, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Year C
Readings: Prov 8:22-34; Rom 5:1-5; Jn 16:12-15
In the first reading today we see the personification of Wisdom. We are told Wisdom was present with God before the Most High began His work of creation. The only way someone could be present with God before “the beginning of His ways” is if that one is uncreated. After all, if Wisdom was present before God began His creation, then Wisdom could not have been created. If Wisdom was created it would have to be said she was the first of His creation, or something to that effect.
Instead, St. Paul clarifies the question for us in the first chapter of his First Letter to the Corinthians when He tells us Jesus is the Wisdom of God. This being the case, when Proverbs tells us Wisdom was brought forth, we can understand this in the sense that we say Jesus proceeded from the Father. In the Creed we also say Jesus was “begotten, not made.” This means He is eternal, having no beginning and no end.
Regarding the concept of procession, in the Trinity this must be understood as being logical, not chronological. We can say the Son proceeds from the Father and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. This said, there was never a time when the second and third Persons of the Trinity did not exist. The Father was never alone thinking how nice it would be to have a Son. If this were the case, it would mean the Son had a beginning of His existence and, therefore, was created. If He was created, He is not God, but a creature.
God reveals Himself to us as a Trinity of Persons Who are perfectly united. This means the three Persons share equally in the divine substance, thereby having one intellect and one will. If each had His own intellect and will there would be three gods. So, our faith is in one God, as we profess in the first words of the Creed. That one God is three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
God is perfect in an absolute sense. In the previous paragraph we said that there is one divine intellect and one divine will. The mind is for truth, so being perfect, God is Truth itself. The will is for love so, once again, since it is perfect, God is Love itself. This is why in the Gospel reading Jesus tells us the Spirit of Truth will lead us into all truth. We also read in the second reading that the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
Regarding the truth into which the Holy Spirit will lead us, Jesus says the Spirit takes from what belongs to Jesus. He then goes on to say everything the Father has belongs to Jesus, so if the Holy Spirit takes from what belongs to Jesus, and what belongs to Jesus is what belongs to the Father, then what the Holy Spirit has is what the Father and the Son possess. In other words, all three are identical in their divine nature; all three are God.
It was just mentioned that the three are identical in their divine nature. If They are identical, then They are the same. If They are the same, They are one. If They were not identical it would imply that one possessed something the others lacked or lacked something the others possessed. If there was something lacking, then that person could not be perfect and if the person was not perfect, that person could not be God. Since the three are one God, then the three are perfectly identical which implies one perfect truth, one perfect love, and one perfect life shared equally among the three.
This has great implications for us because we are made in the image and likeness of God. We are person who have an intellect and a will. With our intellect we are to know truth and with our will we are to love. As baptized persons, we also share in the life of grace. So, the same truth, love, and life that unite the three Persons of the Holy Trinity bring us into union with God as well. Our union with God is not perfect because there will always be infinitely more truth for us to know and infinitely more love for us to receive. Nonetheless, as human persons it is truth and love that unite us to God and to one another as we see was the case among the early Christians who were of “one heart and soul” (Acts 4:32). Thus, if we live the truth in love, we express in our persons what it means to be the image of God and glorify the Trinity Who delights to dwell among us and within us!
Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit www.thewandererpress.com.