As the Nicene Creed begins, “I believe in one God.” In this one God, there are three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each Person is God, yet there is still only one God.
The Three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity exist in relation to one another. We say that the Son is “begotten” of the Father (Jn 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18). This took place before creation, outside of time itself. It is a way of being within God himself. That is why we say that the Son is “eternally begotten” of the Father. Begotten here does not mean “to be born” but it really means “to cause to be.” Even though the Son is eternally existent, the Father “causes him to be.” God is the cause of his own existence. That is why we pray in the Nicene Creed, “[The Son is] begotten, not made, one in being with the Father.”
The Trinity says that God is relationship, and so we need to be in relationships. The Trinity says that God is community, and so we feel called to belong to a parish community. The Trinity says that God is love, and so we love, we cannot help ourselves. We are made to that image and likeness, we mirror our origins.3
The Bishop of Honolulu said, “Some years ago I led a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I was shopping for a gift at an icon shop, and I selected the icon I wanted. The shopkeeper was a Muslim, and he could see I was a priest, so he said to me, “That one is the Holy Trinity. What’s the Holy Trinity?” I only had a couple of minutes before the bus was leaving, so I knew my answer had to be quick. I said, “It is one God, but three persons in one God, a community of love.” And he looked at me, puzzled, and said, “So they don’t fight?” I said, “No, they don’t fight. They are a community of perfect love.” St. Catherine of Siena said, “O peaceful Sea, eternal Trinity!” Ocean of Peace that is the Most Holy Trinity.
In the “hierarchy of truths” the Catechism puts the Most Holy Trinity as the central mystery of Christian faith and life (234). Afterall, baptism is conferred with water and with the formula in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in the Trinity which is why they are referred to as Christian sects but not Christian communities.
Our First Reading from Exodus 34 says, “Early in the morning Moses went up Mount Sinai as the LORD had commanded him, taking along the two stone tablets.”
How could Moses have carried those heavy tablets with the Ten Commandments written on them?
As the Midrash puts it, “it is not Moses who carries the tablets, the tablets carry Moses.”
It was the Trinity that carried Saint Cecilia, who was martyred in Sicily under Emperor Marcus Aurelius between 176 and 180 AD. When her incorruptible body was found long after her death, it was found that on one hand she had three fingers outstretched and on the other hand just one finger, denoting her belief in the Holy Trinity.
Love offered will be returned and more than returned, that in giving, being is replenished not diminished or exhausted. In Latin: Esse deus dare: To be God is to give.
St. Augustine said, “Are you looking for something to give God? Give Him yourself.” The Holy Trinity teaches us about self-giving. To love is to give of oneself.
1. Shared from Isadora Duncan
2. Alan Carr, the Sermon notebook
3. Fr. Bob, Franciscan Friars of the Atonement