June 12, 2022 - Pastor Message07/07/2022
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
When Jesus ascended into glory, he gave his Church the great commission to baptize all nations in the name of the Holy Trinity, a task she has faithfully carried out for 2000 years. The Holy Trinity, which we celebrate in a special way this weekend, is the central belief of our faith and has been from the very beginning. Yet, our understanding of the Trinity is minimal at best, even today. This is not for lack of trying, but due to the fact that the Trinity is an infinite mystery, which like deep sea divers we will spend all of eternity diving into ever more deeply and endlessly exploring.
By calling the Trinity a mystery, we do not mean that it is a puzzle that we could solve if we just gathered the right clues or pieces. A divine mystery is not simply something that is unknown. It is something that we cannot know by our natural powers of reason because it is not natural; it is supernatural, that is, beyond the natural order, not in size or scope, but by its very essence. Divine mysteries like the Trinity are more different from us than we are from single cell organisms, like amoebas, a completely different order of being, and we can no more understand divine mysteries on our own than an amoeba can understand us.
But that doesn’t mean that we can have no knowledge of divine mysteries. Reason can lead us to the limits of our natural powers, where we can peer over the edge and conclude that there must be some higher power beyond us, but reason alone cannot tell us who or what that is. We need that higher power to come down to our level and reveal himself personally to us in ways we can understand, and that is exactly what God does, first through the story of the Hebrew people and ultimately in his own divine Son, who shares the Holy Spirit with us to enlighten us with the gift of faith. Having received supernatural revelation, we then apply our natural reason to process it and grow in our understanding of it through the work of theology, the study of God and divine mysteries.
The mystery of the Holy Trinity is a perfect example of this process. Left to our own reasoning, we never would have come to know God as a Trinity of persons. He revealed himself to us as such in his Son, Jesus Christ. Enlightened by the Holy Spirit, the Church then exercised human reason to grow in our understanding of the mystery, applying philosophy to craft special terms to wrap our limited heads around it, resulting in our official teachings on the Trinity professed every Sunday in the Nicene Creed at Mass. Yet, for all we know, there is infinitely more that we don’t. That is the meaning of divine mystery. As we celebrate the divine mystery of the Trinity this weekend may we remember that and continue our eternal lifelong dive into its endless depths with faith, gratitude, and awe.
Fr. Marc Stockton