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Vestiges of the Trinity

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

The liturgical year begins with a time of preparation for Christmas, the season of Advent. Then, there is a time of preparation for Easter, the season of Lent. The Easter season concludes with the celebration of Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Church, the event we celebrated last Sunday.

Having contemplated in detail the action of God in history, this Sunday, the Church invites us to contemplate the very nature of God, his essence, his being. That is what the celebration of the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity is all about. Of course, it is not an easy task. We are contemplating a great mystery and the excess of light is greater than our capabilities allow, we are blinded by it.

When we, Catholics, state that something is a mystery, we are not saying that we are dealing with something unexplainable, irrational, magic, completely unknown, a problem to solve, something requiring the assistance of a detective. A mystery is a reality so deep, so vast, so rich, that even knowing a lot about it, we do not know it fully.

God, the Most Holy Trinity, is a mystery par excellence. He is infinite. His essence is to be. God is the one who is. As such, He is also the origin of being, the source of all that is. God is truth, life, goodness and beauty itself. Everything true, beautiful, good, everything that has life, exists because it has received being from Him.

The rationality of this mystery goes beyond our intellectual faculties. That is why, even though we can say many things about the nature of God, some of them because they have been revealed and others because we were able to grasp with our intellect, there is much more that we are yet to know, to discover, to live. Ultimately, the mystery of God is not just known, one participates in His existence.

On the other hand, everything we say about the Most Holy Trinity illuminates some aspects, but obscures others. Our patron saint, St. Patrick, is famous for using a shamrock to explain the Trinity. His example illustrates some aspects of the mystery yet, if one is not careful, may lead to errors.

It is also impossible to talk about God without any reference to creation because it is through creation that we come to know God, since He manifests Himself present and active in our midst. That is why most treatises on trinitarian theology begin with a discussion about the meaning of our human nature.

The self-revelation of God presupposes our human nature. God speaks and manifests Himself because there is somebody who is capable of hearing that word and receive that revelation. God condescends with His creatures making Himself accessible to their understanding. Sacred Scripture is one form in which God draws near to man created in His image and likeness, speaking in a human form. Of course, the self-revelation of God reaches its summit in the person of Jesus Christ, true God and true man, who not only draws near to humanity, but assumes our common humanity in its totality. By doing that, He reveals to us not only who God is, but also makes manifest the deepest meaning and vocation or our humanity.

Just as it is impossible to talk about God without reference to the human person, any serious discussion about anthropology, the origin and meaning of our humanity, by considering the transcendence of man and his social nature, must necessarily address the question of God, even if it is to deny his existence.

We live in times of great confusion and little rationality. Debates tend to be emotional and not rational, looking for media impact more than reflection, that is why many people do not even consider the central issues of their existence. There are even Christians who wish to be faithful to the Lord, but avoid reflection, contemplation and in those few moments of introspection that they may have they seem to be more concerned about seeking themselves than God, ending up in an ideologization of the faith or an accommodation of the faith to their personal preferences.

However, even in the midst of confusion and the obscuring of reason that dominate these times of profound anthropological crisis, the question of God, the eternal, what is transcendent in the human person reappear over and over again. Fabrice Hadjadj, a French anthropologist, includes an essay entitled “Supermarket of idols” in his book “Be successful when you die”, where he argues in a very eloquent and convincing way that “the great principle of marketing consists in projecting onto consumer goods a divine attribute. The greatest longing of our will is the vision of absolute goodness. Therefore, one must bestow an absolute character to the sausage, or the flexible shaving razor with multiple blades so that the consumer might feel the urge to buy them.”

We long for the divine attributes because all of creation in its beauty and the regularities of the universe that make scientific knowledge possible, make God manifest. As the first reading points out, the presence and action of God in history are evident for those who have a heart that is docile to His word, is open to truth and has received the grace referenced by St. Paul in the second reading from the Letter to the Romans.

As St. Augustine said, all of creation is suffused with “vestiges of the Trinity.” A heart that is inflamed with love can discern in all of creation and all the events of our existence, even in tragedy and pain, even on the cross, the presence and action of the only and true God, the God of Jesus Christ, who is one and three because He is love.

Fr. Roberto M. Cid