Shadow

A Mystery to be Lived

Trinity Sunday is often considered the preacher’s nightmare. This is unfortunate because while the doctrine of the Trinity is difficult (in fact, impossible) to understand, it is the very foundation of our entire Christian faith and life.

A missionary priest was once commissioned by the bishop to prepare a catechism book for an indigenous tribe. After the priest submitted his work for approval, the bishop found out that there was no mention of the Holy Trinity in the book at all. When confronted about the gross omission, the author replied that he had left out the doctrine of the Trinity because he thought it was too abstract and complicated for the local people to understand. Besides, he believed it had no practical bearing in their lives.

What a gross omission, and an even more gross misunderstanding! The Holy Trinity is not only the fundamental truth of our Christian faith. It constitutes the dynamic core of our Christian life. More than a dogma to believe in, the Trinity is a mystery to be lived.

In my homily last Sunday, I pointed out that living our Christian life can accurately be defined as living in the Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit whom we received at baptism, God lives in us and shares his life with us. Thus, we are called to live no longer our own, but God’s own life – his trinitarian life.

When we are aware of God’s presence in us and live his life, everything changes. To say that the Trinity has a practical bearing in our life is an understatement. The Trinity makes all the difference in who we are and what we do. Allow me cite a few indications.

We begin to respect ourselves. The awareness of the divine indwelling in us impels us to make ourselves worthy of God’s presence by a life of holiness. We cannot continue to live in sin and vices. Our life can only be a life in the Spirit.

We learn to respect others. Like us, others too have received the Triune God and are “temples of the Holy Spirit,” deserving of our honor and respect.

More importantly, we learn to live the life of communion, which is the life of the Trinity. In his Post-Jubilee apostolic letter, Novo Millennio Ineunte, Pope John Paul II expressed his desire for the whole Church to learn the spirituality of communion before embarking on any pastoral plan. He describes it thus: “A spirituality of communion indicates above all the heart’s contemplation of the mystery of the Trinity dwelling in us, and whose light we must also be able to see shining on the face of the brothers and sisters around us.” (NMI, 43)

To illustrate this truth, I often tell the story of the temple of a thousand mirrors. One day, a fierce-looking bulldog found his way into the temple and was suddently met by a thousand fierce-looking bulldogs. Feeling intimidated, he barked and was answered by a thousand barks. He then rushed out of the temple with his tail curled between his legs, saying, “What a hostile world!” Moments later, a cute little puppy also found his way into the temple and was welcomed by a thousand cute little puppies. He wagged his tail and said, “Hello!” He was reciprocated with a thousand tails wagging back and saying, Hello!” Smiling, he went out of the temple saying, “What a friendly world!”

The Trinity we recognize in us and in others is the foundation and reason for communion which qualifies all our relationships.

The Trinity is our insuperable source of hope and courage. If God is in us, what do we fear? During our monthly recollection, Dr. Joanne Apdol shared how she overcame her fear while treating those infected with Covid 19 at the height of the pandemic. She would recite a verse from the psalm, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…” (Ps 23:4)

The family mirrors the Trinity from whom it draws its life and meaning. As the Trinity is formed by the love of the Father and the Son so perfect that it engenders the Holy Spirit, the family too is formed by the love of husband and wife which gives birth to new life. Essentially, family is about love and life, whose source is God. With the fast deterioration and disintegration of families today, the need for families to be rooted in the Trinity becomes even more urgent and imperative.

A typical mark of a true Catholic is the sign of the cross we make before praying or starting any activity. We cross ourselves, as we invoke the names of the Holy Trinity. Let this be a reminder that God desires to embrace us and draw us into his life, which is a life of love. A love fully manifested on the cross which the Son accepted in obedience to the Father. That same love is now poured into us through the Spirit so that we too can love others with the same selfless love of the Trinity.

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