Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
Knowledge of God has always gone hand in hand with knowledge of good morals. In fact they cannot really be divorced from each other. Only a good conscience enjoys that freedom to glimpse higher moral truths. We know this from the lives of our saints. The commandments given to Moses were not only growth in moral thinking; they were also growth in knowing more clearly who God is.
Moses describes the chosen people as ‘headstrong’. I’m not sure they were any more headstrong than people today. There is a rebellious spirit evident in us from childhood as we become independent thinkers. The very thing that makes us reasonably challenge what we are told and which can therefore lead to greater knowledge can also at times manifest itself in a negative way, as an unreasonable rejection of all authority.
The Israelites in the wilderness were tempted to worship a molten idol which they could see and touch. Christians have sometimes been tempted to downplay the teaching that God is Trinity because it is much less demanding to create our own idea of God and worship that. The truth about God always casts light on our own dignity and value. It is not surprising that some ancient civilizations that did not have the benefit of true belief also had a extremely distorted view of human value, which led even to the practice of human sacrifice. The Old Testament began to enlighten this darkened human conscience.
The faith of Israel laid the foundation of a truly humane morality and it did this because the Israelites believed that the one true God was utterly removed from the bloodthirsty idols that were being worshipped among the pagans. For the Israelites there was a sense that God was mysterious and yet intimate, morally demanding and yet tender and fatherly. We see this in the extraordinary encounter between God and Moses. It is only when the Lord has described Himself as a God of tenderness and compassion that Moses has the confidence to ask God to adopt his people and forgive their sins. The revelation of God’s compassion directly affects our ability to relate to Him.
That exchange between God and humanity revealed an ever clearer understanding of human dignity reaching its most perfect expression in the life of Jesus, the Word made flesh. But that moment in human history is also transformative in a new way. As today’s gospel tells us, God has sent His Son to save us from the dire effects of that rebellious spirit and to offer those who believe in Him nothing less than life eternal; an eternity of loving friendship with the God of creation.
As Saint Paul reminds us in the second reading, the early Christians who responded to the saving work of Jesus became increasingly aware that they were called to moral perfection and that this perfection is completely attainable if we are open to God’s Holy Spirit. Saint Paul greeted the Corinthians with these words: “The grace of the Lord Jesus, the love of God the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” This greeting expresses the same love that binds all creation into a loving communion with the Father through His Son and in His Spirit, a God who is both present to us but whose inner life remains mysterious.
Unless we claim equality with God, the Holy Trinity will always remain somewhat of a mystery to our human minds. Our goal in life should not be trying to comprehend the incomprehensible, but to comprehend the divine plan that has been revealed to us and to allow ourselves to be drawn into that plan by being docile to the will of God.
The rebellious human mind will find any excuse to reject the whole idea of a Supreme Being. That is why it is only in the Church, within the community of those who desire to be perfected in Christian love, does one have the best opportunity to grasp the relationships between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.