Saturday, June 2, 2012

Trinity and Liturgy

Readings for June 3/ Trinity Sunday:
Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40
Psalm 33:4-6, 9, 18-20, 22
Romans 8:14-17
Matthew 28:16-20

Last weekend we concluded the Easter Season with the Solemn Feast of Pentecost, marking the event when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles. With this last gift from Christ to His followers, the true mission is begun and thus the birth of the Church takes place. From the Jewish faith, something new has begun. It is fitting, then, that on this first weekend after the birthday of the Church we celebrate with another Solemn Feast the mystery that is the center of our Christian faith – the Most Holy Trinity.

This mystery is most central, and thus most important, because it is the Trinity from whom, in whom, and for whom all things exist. To put it simply: without God, nothing. In addition to being the most important mystery of our Catholic faith, it is also the most difficult for us to grasp. Who of us can ever truly understand how the One God, who is absolute unity, is somehow also a Trinity of Persons? And yet this doesn’t dismiss us from the obligation to try to understand. We must study the Scriptures, Catechism and Creed to understand what ‘consubstantial’ means, why ‘begotten, not made’ is so important, and how the Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son because my knowing more about God, we can love Him more deeply. But we cannot stop at simply knowing about God. We must know Him; we are called to foster a relationship with this great mystery.

God, being love itself, was compelled to create the universe out of love and to draw it to Himself. So incredible is our God that being the creator of all things did not keep Him from coming to us as a human race and as individuals to reveal Himself to us. He reveals Himself to us in the beauty of the creation He has made, in the love shown to us by others, in the complexity of the universe, and in the answered prayers that bring peace to our hearts. Even more miraculously, He revealed Himself in the person of Jesus Christ, walking among us for 33 years and teaching us the way to eternal life. This same Jesus Christ revealed to the disciples – and to us today through the words of the Gospel - that God is not simply One God, but that the One God is also Three distinct Persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and eternal communion of persons pouring out love and receiving love.

In addition to these and many other ways that God reveals Himself to us in the midst of our days, I posit that one of the best places to come face to face with the Triune God is here in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It is here that we as individuals and the mystical body of Christ, are joined to the Father, Son, and Spirit, as we are at no other time until we are joined to them in Heaven.

Each time we gather to celebrate these sacred mysteries, we begin in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We turn to the Father in prayer time and time again; notice that most of the prayers of the Mass are addressed to the Father. At the consecration, Christ Himself acts through the priest in order to offer Himself to the Father on our behalf. And all of this happens by the power of the Holy Spirit. By this glorious exchange of the Son offering Himself to the Father through the Spirit and the Father receiving that offering, we receive Holy Communion and are drawn into that exchange. For a moment in time we are actually united in our flesh to the incomprehensible mystery of God Who is Love.

I’ve said it before and I say it again – if we truly understood what was taking place each time we came to Mass and each time we received Holy Communion, we would be shocked beyond words. And so we give thanks to the God who veils Himself out of mercy and pray that He would help us to grasp more and more this privilege that we have and the mystery that He is.