Mission Society of the Philippines

Homilies

TRINITY SUNDAY: BAPTIZE THEM IN THE NAME OF TRIUNE GOD

Mt 28: 16-20


Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Two days ago, I attended a gathering of Filipinos living in small city in Germany. During the lively conversation with them, a woman has asked one question: “Father, there is only one God. But why in the Catholic Church we are taught to have three Gods: Father, Son, Holy Spirit?” That moment called for a careful and simple explanation of our belief in the Blessed Trinity. The German theologian, Karl Rahner, may be right. He says that no matter how we taught to the ordinary Catholics that there is only one God, nevertheless, they still believe that there are three gods.

Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity. The mystery of the one and triune God is central to our faith. This has been called as the mystery of mysteries. In our Christian practice, the sign of the cross directly links to the Trinitarian mystery. If we put this celebration in the context of the two preceding feasts (Ascension of Christ, Descent of the Holy Spirit), we would say this feast is the synthesis of the personal revelations of the three persons in God.

This feast which we celebrate today is an occasion to reflect on the Trinitarian mystery, with the hope that the believers are being enlightened on their belief in this God who remains to us as a mystery. One theologian has said that every Christian should find the significance of the mystery of Trinity in one’s daily life, otherwise, our belief in the triune God becomes useless. Thus, what is in the life of the holy Trinity that matters to us?

Firstly, the relationship between the three Persons is a perfect communion. It has been called “perichoresis” in Greek. This term implies the interpenetration of the divine persons. In the gospel of John, we hear Jesus saying, “The Father and I are one,” and “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” These gospel texts explain the perichoresis. A divine person dwells in and is found in the other. The Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father. And the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father and of the Son.

This trinitarian relationship can be a model for every relationship, and a source of hope for families, as well as for communities. In marriage, for instance, a husband and a wife are called to live as one. God commanded, “They are no longer two but one.” This is not easy to do and fulfill. But the key to fulfilling this is the life and relationship of the Trinity. Like in the relationship between the Father and Jesus, a husband should dwell in the wife and the wife dwells in the husband. There is no room for individualism. If a husband and a wife live in true communion, they can also say the words of Jesus, “My husband and I are one”, because they have become one “in mind and in heart”.

Secondly, the mystery of God is a mystery of love. The three persons of the Trinity were revealed because God wants to share his divine life with us. God wants us to be saved. Love is the driving force which led God to reveal himself and his plan to save us. Divine love can be described in terms of self-giving; humility; concern for others; saving others; and giving life to others. These are aspects of God’s love which is mystery. Divine love is a mystery.

But how about human love? Can it also become mysterious? For those people who truly love, they also experience the mystery in that love. For married couples who really love each other, their love can be a mystery.

A few years ago, a former US president and his wife were interviewed on the occasion of their 40th wedding anniversary. Both were asked, “What is your secret to an enduring relationship?” The couple could not identify what was it. Finally, the wife answered. She said that the moment she accepted her husband as such, she promised to only love him without expecting any return. She described her love to her husband as full of sacrifice and pain. And that is the mystery of her love for her husband. It is a giving of oneself to the other, so that the other too may live. That is actually a divine love translated into a human love.

Thus, the mystery of the Trinity is not something “out of this world”. It has something to do with our life and with every human relationship. It offers hope to struggling family and community. It invites us to enter into the mystery of divine communion and love. If we respond to this invitation, our belief in the Holy Trinity would become meaningful to us. AMEN.


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