When I consider the Holy Trinity I remember a conversation over coffee I had with a friend at work before I entered the seminary. She was a recent convert and asked me, “Who’s your favorite – Father, Son or Holy Spirit?”
The Gospel reminds us today that all the Father has, all the Son has, and in turn all the Holy Spirit will declare to his disciples is common. With the Persons sharing everything in common it is easy to think that God is just giving us options to choose from. We can be attracted to each Person of the Trinity for some reason: the Father because he reminds us of our loving origins and always hearkens us to future rest in not just a place, but a home, a home made more than a dwelling by the family we share it with; the Son because he is a true friend and big brother, who was willing to give it all for us, and because he put a human face to God and reminded us of his solidarity with our daily lives and sufferings; and the Holy Spirit because we always feel a need to rise above and beyond the immediate things in our life, to be taken up by the impulse of inspiration, to feel and be free from the confines of day to day living.
However, we can’t forget that God is One in Three Persons, which is the hallmark of Christian faith, or we risk writing off God in one way or another by considering the Father as aloof, utterly transcendent and beyond our daily lives and interests, authoritarian; considering Jesus Christ just another rabbi or wise man, sharing some human teachings with us and giving good example, nothing more than a social worker; or considering the Holy Spirit as just another one of those flighty inspirations and sentiments that never results in anything, just a free spirit.
Today’s readings and Gospel remind us that everything we are, everything we hope for, and everything expected of us and that we expect from God comes to us from the whole Trinity. In the First Reading we see the Trinity relishing in the creation of the world – the wisdom of God is speaking and reminiscing of the moment of creation. He describes himself as the forerunner of God’s wonders, before the earth was made. And in these words we are reminded that God the Father made the world with his Son in mind, gazing upon him in eternity with love. The Son in turn, begotten by the Father, as we profess every Sunday in the Creed, delights over creation and the human race. This hearkens back to the first chapters of Genesis, when the Spirit of the Lord hovers over the face of the deep, ready to begin creation with “let there be light” and when he creates man, he breathes his own spirit, a Spirit of life, into man to make him a living being, wanting to create men in His own image and likeness. We see that spirit of play and artistic relish that reminds us of God’s total freedom to create us, without any need and restraint, and with us in mind as his true masterpieces, made in his image – by showing him to others, and likeness – by sharing the life he has in abundance.
In creating man the Trinity had an even more special masterpiece in mind, a masterpiece that would in part craft itself. He gave us the freedom to conform our lives to this masterpiece of life that he wanted to see brought about in each one of us. In faith and love we could trust in him to show us the way to be a true masterpiece, a masterpiece of moral beauty, truth, and love. When Adam and Eve sinned they chose their distorted image of God as the model to imitate, and the image of God was disfigured in them. As a result, just as God warned them before eating of the fruit, spiritual death ensued. Nevertheless, God’s relish in us and desire for our glory would not let the story end there.
So, as the Second Reading reminds us, God became man to show us that true masterpiece and image of God that he had in mind from all eternity for us. As Paul reminds us, through our Lord Jesus Christ we have peace and access to the glory of God again. God created the world with his Son’s image in mind, and Jesus, by becoming flesh, by becoming a man, shows us exactly what God had on his mind when he created us. That image of God found in Christ shows us how we can restore the image of God in us again that was disfigured by sin. By Christ becoming man our likeness is restored as well: The flow of spiritual life is reopened by Jesus’ Passion and death, and poured into us by the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, as we profess in the Creed every Sunday. Full of that divine life, we happily put up with the sufferings and struggles of daily life, knowing that the glory of God will come for us.
Finally, as the Gospel reminds us, God is not just the origin of our existence, but the purpose of it as well, the end toward which we’re all headed. It is not the end in terms being finished, it is the beginning of eternal life with the Trinity. Jesus became man and suffered and died to reconcile the world with God, the Father of mercies. He does this by sending the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised the disciples during the Last Supper that the Holy Spirit, which Jesus was full of from the beginning to the end of his earthly mission, would come after Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven to constantly keep Christ among us and give us life through the sacraments, as well as guidance and strength to be faithful to the image of God that Jesus Christ had restored in us. As the Lord, the giver of Life, the Holy Spirit continues to keep the Church united around Christ and proclaiming the Gospel to the world through her words and example. Jesus reminds us that the Holy Spirit will not say anything apart from what the Father and Son share. In this way the Trinity is and always will be united as the source of our existence, our hope, and our life.
This week, whenever you make the Sign of the Cross, make it a moment of thanks toward each Person of the Holy Trinity for the work of salvation and happiness that God’s bringing about in us.
Readings: Proverbs 8:22–31; Psalm 8:4–9; Romans 5:1–5; John 16:12–15. See also Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.