Today is Trinity Sunday and this feastday was popularized by St. Thomas a Becket centuries ago. The feast of the Trinity became so important that until recently Anglicans numbered the long summer Sundays as “Sundays After Trinity”. This feast is unique in that the focus of our celebration is not an aspect of the history of salvation, but reflection on the nature of God as we believe it has been revealed to us as Christians. It is worth reflecting that today’s focus is the very essence of Christian identity. We begin every liturgy by stating that we are acting ‘In the name of the Father …’ and that is a declaration of our basic faith, not just an opening formula.
In 324 A.D., the gathering of bishops at Nicaea declared doctrine of the Trinity. Their declaration was in response to a false teaching that the Son and Spirit were merely creatures. If the Son and Spirit were creatures, then the relationship of all believers to the Father would be distant. The bishops rejected this teaching and reaffirmed God’s intimacy with his faithful. As Catholics, we profess the Nicean Creed every Sunday at Mass. We are living in an age of information overload – driven by means of communication which have profoundly changed the nature of our relationships with one another and our lives and the way we live them. You can even have a “best friend” you have never met through the internet and other computerised ways of communication– and before you scoff, we need to hit the “pause” button to reflect on how we relate to God, Father Son and Spirit one. Our world seems locked in battle between contending parties and groups, and division and tension have even got into the churches as we are divided over so many different issues and some of the issues that have divided us are so very hard to deal with at so many different levels. Common sense tells us God exists and Jesus gave us a new look into nature of God. As creator, God is “Father.” Jesus made that distant concept close intimate and personal to us all. The Father became “Our Father” who cares for each and every one of us his creatures with an intense, personal love he has called each one of us by name and we are his.
As he showed us God as this loving Father, Jesus revealed himself as the only Son of the Father. As the Son, he became our model and connection with the Father. Through the Son we touch the warm embrace of the Father. The Spirit continues the mission of the Son through the Church. The Spirit moves us to intimacy with the Father. It moves us to prayer and worship, witness and evangelization, community and service. Through the Spirit, the strangers become friends, friends become believers, and believers come close to God. Hence, we believe God is Trinity (three divine persons in one God) simply because we experience divine power in the words, deeds, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. And we experience divine life in the Spirit. In both we find what we call “God.” In both, we experience the Father as a personal, intensely loving, and compassionate God. The Church receives new believers “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.” The singular term “name” referred to the ancient notion that God in substance (nature or essence) is one, but three in person (or “hypostasis”). The family acts as an easily understood analogy of this mystery. There is only one family, but many members. Just as grace is given from the Father through the Son, so there could be no communication of the gift to us except in the Holy Spirit. So whenever we say In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit let us remember the love of the Father, the grace of the Son and the fellowship of the Spirit himself given freely to all of us.