Friday, June 5, 2009

Let Them Be One, Father

(A reflection for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. Readings: Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40; Psalm 33; Romans 8:14-17; Matthew 28:16-20)

I use several missalettes each week to pray and reflect on the coming Sunday’s mass texts—including the popular Magnificat. For the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, the Magnificat invites us to reflect on paragraph 221 of the Catechism which teaches that “by sending his only Son and the Spirit of Love in the fullness of time, God has revealed his innermost secret: God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange.” Taken in the context of the fullness of our faith, this reality—this understanding of God as a communion of persons—has much to teach us, much to challenge us. Indeed, the two Opening Prayers available for our celebration of the Mass remind us it is through the Most Holy Trinity that “we come to know the mystery” of God’s life, and are reminded that we are a people “formed in [God’s Trinitarian] image”.

There are two pieces, really, to understanding this Trinitarian mystery. The first—which is perhaps the most often reflected upon—is understanding as much as possible what this means about God. Three Persons—and yet complete and perfect Unity as One God. Indeed, as we contemplate such wonders, we could find ourselves exclaiming like Moses in the first reading, “Did anything so great ever happen before? Was it ever heard of?” Certainly, like him, with the fullness of God’s mystery now revealed through the Incarnation of Christ and the sending of the Holy Spirit celebrated at least week’s Pentecost, our faith is assured and our hope secured so that we, too, again like Moses in the first reading, can exclaim this is how we ‘must now know and fix in our hearts that the Lord is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other.’

It is the second understanding of this Trinitarian mystery, however, that has been foremost in my prayer this week: what it teaches us about ourselves to understand that we are created in the image of a Trinitarian God. Paul, writing to the Romans in our second reading, takes this one step further by reminding us that in addition to being created in the image of a Communion-Of-Divine-Persons–Who-Are-One, through Christ we have become adopted sons of God, “and joint heirs with Christ.”

If the God we worship is a communion of persons so closely interrelated that there is no separation among them, so united that they are Perfect Unity Itself, and if we are created in that image, then we must accept something fundamentally true about our very nature that is challenging: we are meant to be persons of communion. Communion with our Lord, communion with our parents and children and family, and certainly communion and unity as the Body of Christ represented by and made present in our parish family.

Indeed, why is it in the Gospel for today that Christ Himself commanded that the disciples “Go...and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”? Perhaps it is at least in part to remind us of two important things: One: that the God we serve is mighty, wondrous, and unlike any imitation god that man tries to create. His glory is in part because His very nature is a communion of Three Persons in such perfect Unity that they are completely One. And two: that, baptized in the name of that Most Holy Trinity, we are called to live together as the Body of Christ on earth—and in our parish family—as a communion of persons together in perfect unity.

As the Prayer Over the Gifts in today’s liturgy suggests, let all of us pray that the words we say, and the things we do, promote a unity among us that we know through faith is the very nature of the Most Holy Trinity who is One God in the heavens above and the earth below. Only in this way can we hope to become the “perfect offering” to God we pray He makes us in this sacrifice of the Mass… for this we rely on the sanctifying power of the Eucharist. Amen.


“I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in my through their word, that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory which you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:20-23)

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