This is the day when priests and Christian preachers tie themselves in knots to try and explain the Most Holy Trinity, which is the truest expression of who or what or how God is. This is the part where we get stuck. In trying to figure out who God is, what God is and how God is, preachers and priests, catechists and Catholic School teachers, nuns and monks fall back on a standard answer: The Holy Trinity is a “Mystery.”
The Church, in the Catechism, tries to explain the Mystery. If it helps, the CCC 261 says: “The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of the Christian faith and of Christian life. God alone can make it known to us by revealing himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The CCC 237 says: The Trinity is a mystery of faith in the strict sense, one of the "mysteries that are hidden in God, which can never be known unless they are revealed by God.”
The doctrine as explained in The New Catholic Encyclopedia says The Trinity is the term employed to signify the central doctrine of the Christian religion — the truth that, in the unity of the Godhead, there are Three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These Three Persons being truly distinct one from another. That is the answer, and yet leads to priests to try and give further
examples of how to explain it.
Classic examples are: Water: It can exist as liquid, as steam and as ice, yet it is still water; St. Patrick and his famous three leaf clover: 3 leaves, one branch. The Bible: The Old Testament is God, the New Testament is Jesus and the Acts and Letters of St. Paul are only known because of the gift of the Holy Spirit sent upon the Apostles at Pentecost. These are three distinct ways to know God in a single book. How about the Triangle, three equal and independent sides connected to be one shape. And the craziest one I have heard is the priest, in Idaho who gives out Three Musketeer bars: Three in one!
The problem with all of this is that there is no relationship between the Trinity and us. Triangles, candy bars and three leaf clovers are not even close to the human being God created in the beginning of the Bible. Made in his image and likeness and full of God’s dignity, we may be able to imitate God or follow the commands of God, but we ourselves also become a mystery. Sometimes doing things that we cannot explain and probably has God scratching his head.
When we have a relationship with God, we are the closest to the Trinity we can be. Today, I was blessed to do two baptisms of children from our parish. A brother and sister, water poured over them “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. This was done only after a threefold profession of faith in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which we will profess in just a moment.
Baptism creates a relationship. It is the opening in our lives by which the Church incorporates us into the Body of Christ. The first of the Sacraments, the door way to the other six. Without that relationship established with God, we cannot even know the grace of the other six sacraments.
The relationship with God is also active and alive in our parishes here in Moscow and Genesee. In just a few weeks a new relationship will be established when Fr. Benjamin stands here after I leave. Along with Fr. Anthony, they will look for many ways to take the relationship they have with God and bring it forth to give to you. They , like all priests who come to a new parish will wonder: “What is the
best way to share my faith with these people?” “How is it I can show them that my love of God is also my love for them?” “How do I preach to them, what do I say to them, what do I do? How do I love them as God love them?” We think about it all the time.
However, just like an inadequate explanation of the Trinity, a priest will do all he can… but there has to be a relationship! Fr. Ben and Fr. Anthony will do all they are able to know you. They are good men and have devoted their lives to serving the Church. Just as you, your children, your parents, grandparents and those who came before us, since the 1870’s in Moscow, you also can do all you are able to know the priests God brings to this Church..
In the early years of the 1880s, there is evidence that the Jesuit Fathers, including the famous missionary Father Cataldo, visited Genesee occasionally to say Mass in the homes of the town’s pioneers. They established a relationship that continues to this day… I know you will open yourselves to that new relationship on our horizon. When you did that for me (Fr. Mike, Fr. Bryan, Fr. Joe and certainly for Fr. Finucane) it was wonderful! When you do that for them it will be a great gift and blessing – for you and them.
In the book of Exodus today, Moses is forced to go up the mountain with two new tablets because he threw the first ones down on the Golden Calf. Why? Because the people had lost faith and lost their relationship with God. This, as we have said, happens over and over and over again… we have to at least try and reestablish a relationship with God… AND each other. For without it… Life becomes a mystery that no one can explain, because we have no connection to anyone except — Me. Myself. And I. A horrible, yet sometimes accurate example of a trinity… certainly not a holy one in relationship with God.
Welcoming new priests is an awkward dance. Who, what, where, why, when, all the “W” questions at play. Searching for the answers brings about the assurances of love in the Gospel of John – the famous verse, sometimes appropriated at football games and on bumper stickers: John 3:16; “God so love the the world that he gave his only son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish, but might have eternal life.” God wants that relationship with you. Fr. Ben, Fr. Anthony and all of us who have come before, desire that and cherish that relationship when it is offered by you to us.
That love is the love St. Paul talks about today in the Second Letter to the Corinthians. The Corinthian church, a Roman Colony, was divided because of the arrogance of its more powerful members. Paul urges them to work together for the advancement of the gospel. They should repent of their rivalries, build up the faith of those who are weak, and witness effectively to unbelievers.
After 18 months he is able to say good bye to them. As he prepares to leave, we hear him say today, in perhaps the greatest explanation of the Trinity in the entire Bible : “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”