The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
June 12, 2022
Psalm 8:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
The Gospel of John 16:12-15
Deacon Mike D’Addabbo
St. Louis Catholic Church
(make the sign of the cross) saying “In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’)
Today is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. We just invoked the Trinity by making the sign of the cross. Now, there is nothing that makes the sign of the cross just a Catholic thing. But it is. You do not see other Christian Trinitarian faiths making the sign of the cross. But we do. We make it when we bless ourselves with Holy Water entering the Church, we make it as we begin and end Mass, we make it before we say grace and give thanks to God for our food and blessings. We make the sign of the cross a lot. Often subconsciously. That is not bad. I remember at my mother’s funeral, almost 25 years ago, the funeral procession was going from the funeral home to the Church, and we passed by one of those speedy oil change places. Now this was in CT and the town had a big Catholic population. As the hearse went by the employees came outside, took off their hats and made the sign of the cross as a sign of respect for the deceased person- I this case my mother. That simple act of making the sign of the cross is a form of prayer and whenever we pray God is well pleased. Those workers prayed for my mom who they did not know. We often see sports figures, especially those who come from Hispanic countries, make the sign of the cross before they get up to bat or after they have made a big play. I don’t know if they are praying that God will; help them get a hit or whatever in that particular instance. I choose to think that they are thanking God for giving them the talents that make them excel at the sport. And you know, I am okay with anyone who is publicly willing to thank God even if they do not know they are doing it. It seems that in today’s society so many seem to pursue a material reward over their spiritual well-being. I used to keep a post-it-note on my computer at work that quoted St. Luke (9:25) “What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?” It was my daily reminder of priorities.
The Trinity is a divine mystery. There are two scriptural passages or feast days that a lot of people do not want to preach on. One is St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians where he says “As the church is subordinate to Christ , so should wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything.” A couple whose wedding I recently officiated at chose that as one of their readings. It gave me the chance to tell the guys they needed to quit snickering and chuckling (as most guys do when they hear that). They needed to keep listening and reading because the girls get the best of that scripture passage. The other difficult thing to preach on is the Trinity. Why? Because, three-in-one, by our human reasoning, our human definition, defies human logic. It doesn’t make sense to us. So how are we, in particular me, going to explain it today? I’m not. If two preeminent church scholars- St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the most highly respected Church doctors and theologians, and St. Augustine, couldn’t unravel the mystery for us then I do not think I can either. In fact, I am not even going to try. I will try to explain why we accept this complex belief of the three-in-one.
Today’s first reading from the Book of Proverbs begins “Thus says the wisdom of God…” Wisdom is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Today’s reading goes on to detail and witness the actions of God creating the world through the eyes of wisdom.
St. Paul’s letter to the Romans gives us the reason to believe in the Trinity when Paul writes “…we have been justified by faith (now remember that word faith), we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith…because the love of God…has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” The Holy trinity right there- God the father, Our Lord Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit given to us. The Holy Spirit is given to us first at the Sacrament of Baptism. Through the Oil of Catechumens He gives us the knowledge, the strength, the capability of Christ to protect us from the wickedness of the devil; He blesses the water making it Holy so we can wash away original sin; and, finally, He anoints us with the Chrism oil of Salvation so we remain as a member of Christ- Priest, Prophet and King.
In today’s Gospel from John, Jesus is preparing the disciples for the time when He will be leaving them. He knows they are not ready for that. He tries to reassure them that He is not abandoning them. He will send them “…the Spirit of truth… He will not speak on his own but will speak what he hears…” John is telling the disciples about the coming of the Holy Spirit and that the Holy Spirit will tell them what Jesus says to do. The Holy Spirit will glorify God, He will guide the disciples, and He will give to them what Jesus had given to Him. It is all intertwined and it is all a mystery. A divine mystery.
And we saw all of that happen last weekend on the Feast of Pentecost Sunday- the birthday of the Catholic Christian faith. I was home sick. I hope that you all had birthday cake or a birthday donut. The Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, He empowered them. He sent them out speaking in languages that they had never spoken and had not been trained in. He gave them the words to speak, the knowledge to teach, the graces to cure the sick and perform miracles. Most importantly, He gave them the fortitude to face challenges, hostility, abuse and even death. They could, and would, sacrifice their lives in order to teach “…and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (MT 28:19). They were leaders. The best kind. They were servant leaders. They were doers. They are the kind of leaders the world needs today. They relied first and foremost on God and the Holy Spirit. They were afraid and their leader had left, yet they went forth, not necessarily with confidence but with strength. Something, the Holy Spirit, inspired, filled, and led them. In the seven weeks after Easter the first readings on Sunday were all from the Acts of the Apostle, not from the Old Testament. Why? Because the Church wants us to see how the Holy Spirit inspired these men and how they conquered the challenges they faced in their travels. How they led and formed the Church at its beginning. The Church wants us to learn from them.
So, now to the end. Why do we believe in the Holy Trinity? I just showed you many ways that God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son used the Holy Spirit to love, protect, guide and bless us. But believing in three-in-one?
Some of you may have heard this before but it is the best explanation I can give you. To understand the concept of three-in-one think about olive oil and garlic. I am Italian ethnicity, so it is easy for me to think of that. Each of those are 2 separate items. They each have their own ‘essence’ or taste. Now, take these two separate items and mix them together in a frying pan. You get the most wonderful smells and taste. You can add peppers, onions, sausage, meatballs. Whatever you add is no longer an individual essence. It has acquired the essence of the other ingredients. We are the end result of those ingredients. We are what the Holy Spirit from the time of our Baptism has formed us into being.
We accept that for one simple reason. It does not explain the divine mystery of the Trinity. It explains why we accept it. I have a Jewish neighbor. Merv is a scientist who grew up in the Northeast and went to school in Philadelphia. One of his lab partners was a Catholic guy who was called (I kid you not) Rocky. Well, Merv and Rocky used to have loud and boisterous discussions over religion, particularly the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the Eucharist, and the Trinity. Finally, one day after months of discussion as the semester was getting to the end Merv looked at Rocky and said “I get it. We do not need to discuss it anymore.” Rocky asked what he meant. Merv replied that “Catholics have to have a blind faith because that is the only way anyone can believe, without question, in the tenets of our faith.” That does not explain the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. It explains why we believe it.
May God bless you all in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit