Dt 4:32-34, 39-40 / PS 33:4-5, 6, 9,18-19, 20, 22 / Rm 8: 14-17 / Mt 26:16-20
Perhaps the hardest course I took in the seminary was the course on the Trinity. This course was filled with minute philosophical distinctions, complex Greek and Latin words for which their were no English translations and it required such precision that changing one letter on some of the words caused you to be a heretic. I remember sitting at my desk preparing for the final exam asking myself why I should even bother to study the Trinity, after all the word doesn’t appear anywhere in the bible and it is a mystery isn’t it? It didn’t take long for me to realize that while the Trinity is truly a mystery, to simply leave it at that does not do justice to God who revealed Himself to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and while the Trinity is truly a mystery He reveals Himself to us for a purpose, so it is in our best interest to try to understand Him a little better.
Today’s Gospel gives us the clearest understanding of who our God is. You see in revealing God to be the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Jesus lets us see that our God is a relationship of love. Think about it for just a second. If the Father did not exist then there would be no Son, after all their can be no Son without a Father and if there was no Son then their would be no Father because a father can only be a father if he has a son. Thus our God who is a Trinity, 3 distinct persons in one God must be a God of loving relationship, after all this is what binds the three persons into one. While often times people in our society see God, as some big power in the sky out to seek revenge, today’s Gospel reveals our God to be someone completely different, He is a God of love, who reaches out to us wanting to draw us into that relationship of love.
A few years ago I met a Muslim man and we began a conversation about our different faiths. After a while he said to me “your faith is beautiful, I wish I could believe that God was a loving Father who wants to draw me into relationship with Him.” While I reminded him that the doors of the Catholic Church are always open, he responded saying “I wish I could believe in your God, but in my faith we are called to submit to God, not enter into relationship with Him.”
You see the Trinity is what sets Christianity apart from every other religion. While the pagans knew to look beyond themselves for God and God revealed Himself to the Jewish people as a Father who had entered into a covenant with His chosen people, it was not until Jesus revealed God to be three in one – three distinct divine persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) yet still one Divine nature (God) that mankind could come to understand that God does not just tolerate each of us, but rather He calls each human person into a personal relationship with Him.
Who then is this Trinity? While the Trinity will always remain a mystery, the Church, for two thousand years has painstakingly unfolded the teaching of who the Trinity is. Some of the Church’s greatest teachers have used complex philosophy and Greek terms, others like St. Patrick used a three leaf clover. Perhaps the best analogy I know is to think of the Trinity like a family. Each family has many distinct people – a mother, a father and perhaps a daughter. All three of these people are distinct human people, yet they are all one single unit, one single family and they are bound together by a deep life-generating and self-giving love. In fact, is it not the love between the members of the family that binds them together and makes them one? In the same way, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, while three distinct persons, are bound together as one God in love.
When we come to understand the Trinity as existing in an infinite perpetual love, we come to a radically different understanding of who God is, an understanding of God that is distinct to Christianity. Our faith is not about our quest for God, but rather it is God’s quest for us. In fact, since God subsists in a relationship of love, every action of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit emanates from love. God created the world out of love for us, He rescued His chosen people from slavery in Egypt out of love, He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ out of love to redeem us and to give us eternal life and as we recalled last Sunday on Pentecost, He sent His Holy Spirit, out of love to guide us and to help us bring His love to others.
In revealing Himself as a Trinity, God shows us who He is. Each of the persons of the Trinity, subsisting in an infinite relationship of love, shows us that God does not simply tolerate us; He loves us. The Trinity reveals to us that while God is truly all-powerful, supremely just, knows all, and transcends all, He does not exist to lord power over us, but rather to enter into a loving relationship with us. So when we hear Jesus’ command in today’s Gospel to “go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” we are hearing His invitation to share in His mission. He is calling us not to simply go through the motions of a ritual, or to engage in some kind of intellectual mind game, but rather He is calling us to enter into a personal relationship with Him and to bring people into a relationship with God. God does not simply tolerate us, no He wants to enter into a relationship with us and as Christians our lives should express that we live in a relationship of love with God. God is on a quest to enter into a relationship with us. Will we open our hearts to allow ourselves to enter into that relationship?
 MT 28:19