by Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito, Bishop of Palm Beach
We have come to the celebration of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity on Sunday, a week following Pentecost. This is a significant celebration as the Trinity is the very center of the reality of God, in whom we daily profess our faith. We begin our prayers, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” and we conclude them in the same way, always acknowledging one God, who exists in three distinct persons. God relates to us as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and we relate to Him in the same manner. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that, “The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is a mystery of God in Himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens then. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the ‘hierarchy of the truths of faith.’”
As we celebrate the Trinity, it is good for us to reflect upon this fundamental truth of our faith and how we relate to God as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is a mystery but not in the sense of something that is incomprehensible, or like a puzzle or a detective story. It is a mystery because we stand in awe before it. The best analogy of this type of mystery is love. Love is a mystery. However, love is essential to our lives as human persons, and it is part of almost every aspect of who we are and how we interact with each other. We cannot analyze love as we do in scientific research, as it goes far beyond its analysis and description. And it is the same with the mystery of God, the mystery of the Trinity. It is especially significant to see the relationship between the mystery of God and the mystery of love as “God is love”, (1 Jn 4:16). This is the fundamental mystery that we stand before in awe, which is essential to our lives but cannot be fully analyzed, described, and understood.
God exists as the Trinity for all eternity. He does not exist as the Trinity in order to relate to us after creation. Rather, creation relates to Him as the Trinity since this is His fundamental identity. He created us to enter into a real relationship with Him, as the basis of our existence. Therefore, whether we recognize it or not, we are always relating to Him as the Trinity. Perhaps the best way to describe the life of the Trinity is with a most simple but fundamental reality. God is a family of perfect love. He exists for all eternity as the perfect communion of love. When He created us in His image and likeness, He created us to live in love with Him and with each other as a family. That is why we come into existence through a family. That is why we relate to each other fundamentally through a family and through the families of human relationships that we encounter each day.
As love, for all eternity God gives Himself away. It is His very nature not to hold onto Himself but to pour Himself out. His giving totally of Himself for all eternity is what constitutes the Son. The Father’s giving is so complete that when He did create, He gave His Son to His creation in the Person of Jesus Christ, who gave His life that we might have life. The Son responds to the Father by giving Himself back to the Father. In an eternal exchange of love, the Son listens to the Father in true conversation, which is prayer. The eternal listening of the Son to the Father is reflected in His earthly life, when Jesus treasured His conversation and relationship with the Father as a center of His Being in prayer. The loving giving and conversation between the Father and the Son, for all eternity, is what constitutes the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the bond between the Father and the Son, which is nothing less than love. The Holy Spirit is part of this eternal conversation of prayer among the three Persons of the Trinity.
Our relationship with God is a real one. When He created us, He did so out of complete love, wishing to give us the gift of His life. God communicates to us His full identity in complete transparency. For all eternity, God is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, since he is always giving Himself away in love. The Persons of the Trinity live in love, and it is that love which is the joy of God and the joy that God gives to us in our lives as we enter into a true relationship with Him, as he is.
Last year on Trinity Sunday, Pope Francis spoke of the mystery of the Trinity. He expressed that Jesus calls us to unity: “And this unity I dare say is essential to the Christian … because it is a unity that is born from love, from the mercy of God, from the justification of Jesus Christ and from the presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts”. Speaking extemporaneously, Pope Francis expressed that it may not always be easy to understand the mystery of the Holy Trinity, but it is possible for everyone to live this mystery. We live in this mystery, whether we realize it or not, and when we do reflect upon it, we are drawn more deeply into the very life of God as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
On Trinity Sunday, we celebrate that we are able to enter into a relationship with God and share in the mystery of His love. We stand in awe before this mystery and as we enter more deeply into the life of God, we enter more deeply into the life of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, always relating to each of them, as God, in a particular manner. May Trinity Sunday help us to continue to live the mystery of the Trinity in our relationship with God and in our relationship with each other.
Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito
June 10, 2022