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Divine Revelation and the Holy Trinity; Little by Little


“In Christ, for the first time, we see that in God himself there exists--within his inseparable unity--the distinction between the Father who gives and the Gift which is given (the Son), but only in the unity of the Holy Spirit.” ~ Hans Urs von Balthasar

Today the Catholic Church observes the third in a quartet of Easter Solemnities,The Most Holy Trinity We kicked things off three Sundays ago with “Ascension Thursday Sunday,” a term I use to highlight and explain the fact that the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord is celebrated liturgically on Sundays in the vast majority of U.S. Catholic Dioceses, this despite the fact that our Lord was taken up into heaven to assume his seat at the right hand of the Father on a Thursday, forty days after his Resurrection. Last Sunday was of course Pentecost Sunday and next Sunday is the Solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, perhaps better known asCorpus Christi Sunday

These Solemnities are aligned this way for good reason. The Liturgical Calendar serves as a teaching mechanism through which we come to understand the complex mysteries of our faith, logically sequenced in order to present them against the backdrop of the aggregate Christian Landscape. In fact this week, fresh on the heels of the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, our return to Ordinary Time brought with it Daily Mass Gospel Passages from Matthew Chapters 5-7, wherein Jesus delivers his Sermon on the Mount. Dubbed by many theologians as “Jesus’ Greatest Homily,” the Sermon on the Mount serves as a mirror which we can hold up to our lives. Are we living according to these at times very challenging teachings? To do so is to emulate the Trinitarian love of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which puts the mind of the church into words, tells us that the mystery of the Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the hierarchy of the truths of the faith.” (234). Yet we know that the Holy Trinity is more than mere dogma. The secular world, which oftentimes worships science in lieu of God, could never grasp its intricacies. If you were taking a math test and were asked to solve the problem “1 + 1 + 1” an answer of “1” would quickly fall victim to the red marking pen.

Both the Nicene and Apostles Creed have a Trinitarian shape to them. The prayers we say throughout the celebration of the Holy Mass in fact, prayers offered to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, take on a Trinitarian form as well, this despite the fact that Catholics are often accused of “being Trinitarian in name but Unitarian in prayer.” The Trinity forms our vision of God; this is quite frankly who He has revealed Himself to be.

“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.” These were the provocative and enigmatic words of Jesus to his disciples in today’s Gospel (John 16:12-15) as he prepares their hearts for what is to come. In this statement we gain some insight into how the three members of the Holy Trinity ~ Father, Son, and Holy Spirit ~ go about the task of divine revelation. Little by little, precisely as needed. This is the voice of wisdom, personified in today’s 1st Reading from Proverbs (8:22-31). If the Holy Trinity or any of its three members were revealed entirely at once, to the world or anyone in the world, it would be akin to emptying the Arctic Ocean into a teacup. Little by little do we come to understand this mystery. Little by little do we come to fathom the endless generosity of the Father’s love, poured into the Son which flows back to the Father by way of the Holy Spirit, which has hovered over the Universe from the beginning of time.

“I found delight in the human race.” These were the closing words in today’s previously aforementioned 1st Reading from Proverbs (8:22-31). We seem to have lost sight of the fact that God takes delight in us. And now, since we no longer teach the doctrine of Satan, going so far as to create TV Shows wherein the Evil One is depicted as affable, charming even, a generally likable sort, we need someone else to accuse. We need someone else to blame for being our “oppressor.” Perhaps that’s why we choose God to be this alleged oppressor. That he saddles us with “unreasonable” laws and commandments because he does not want us to be happy, when in fact that’s all he wants. God invites us to share in this Trinitarian love. To seek it out. To bask in it. To emulate it.

The Sign of the Cross…. a simple yet profound gesture. It carries with it brave weight, for it names the Trinity, celebrates the Creator, and brings home all the power of faith. The Sign of the Cross helps us to remember that we have a Companion on the journey home, one which delights in us. One which takes delight in revealing himself to us…. Little by little.

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