The Tri-Unity of God and The Christian Unity: Solemnity of the Trinity
The reality and the mystery of the Trinity is one of the central tenets of the Christian faith. The Trinity is a mystery. It is the core of our Christian faith. It is a mystery that often leads a lot of people into error in the bid to explain what the Trinity is and what it is not.
The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the mystery of God in himself. It is the source of all the other mysteries of faith in the church and the most fundamental and essential teaching of the church.
The teaching is that there are three Persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, these Three Persons are not three Gods but One God. In their Godhead, God is one but distinct in their persons. This explains what we mean by Tri-unity which is essentially where the word trinity is taken from.
The Tri-unity of God is simply three in God. In today’s homily, we have to take our journey bit by bit, so that we can grab the meaning of today’s solemnity and then make our final application at the end. Our application is centred on how this tri-unity can help and influence the relationship among us today.
Literal Meaning Of the Word Trinity.
The word trinity is simply from two conjoined words “tri” meaning three and “unity” meaning one. This is the meaning of the word Tri-unity.
Therefore, literally, tri-unity means three in one. The Borrowed word from Latin is Trinitas.
In their Godhead, The Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God. But in their persons, the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Holy Spirit. In their persons, the Father is the Father, the Son is the Son and the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, in their persons, you do not call the Father, Son, nor do you call the Son, the Holy Spirit. But you can call the Father God, the Son, God and the Holy Spirit, God. In their Godhead, the three persons operate in absolute unity.
The Church in her wisdom uses the word “Trinity” to explain the relationship that exists between Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, three persons but one God.
In today’s gospel, Jesus’ analogy explains it better, which I will expose later as we proceed.
Get it in a detailed manner, What we are celebrating today is that God is three persons but One God.
God the Father, the Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are three persons in one God.
The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet they are not three Gods but one God in the Trinity of Persons.
How the Church Explains the Mystery of the Tri-unity of God.
1. To articulate the dogma of the Trinity to our understanding, the Church uses certain terminologies like: “substance”, “person” or “hypostasis”, “relation” and so on.
The Church uses the term substance, which often is rendered at times as the essence or nature of a thing, to designate the unity in the divinity of the three Persons. (Check Catechism of the Catholic Church 251). Hence, Substance is what makes something what it is, different from another.
2. For example, the substance or the nature of a human being is different from the nature of an animal. When you see a human being, despite the differences in colour and height, you will know that he is a human being and not a tree or a goat. The Beingness of a man differentiates him from the tree, goat etc.
Please, this is just to explain what substance is and not in any way to explain the essence or the divinity.
So, like the three persons, the Father is divine, the son is divine and the Holy Spirit is divine. Then in their substance, The Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God. This is the Unity in the Godhead. Now in this Godhead, they are united. No one acts differently.
3. Therefore, in the tri-unity of God, the three Persons are one in their substance( Godhead) and different in their persons.
To understand the difference in their persons, the church uses the term “person” or “hypostasis” to designate the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to explain the real distinction among them. (Check CCC 252).
Let us understand this. A Person indicates the distinct nature of a thing. For example, Mr A and Mr B are human beings in their essence, nature and substance, yet they are different persons, A and B.
In their humanity, they are one (Human beings) but in their persons, they are different (Mr A and B).
Let us not forget that this is only to help us understand the difference between essence and persons and does not in totality explain the mystery of the Trinity.
So, in their persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are distinct but in their Godhead is one. The igbo will say “na ihe ha jiri buru chukwu ha bu otu”.
The Church also uses the term “relation” to designate the fact that their distinction lies in the relationship of each to the other (Catechism of the Catholic Church 252).
4. Therefore, in the tri-unity of God, they relate in some mysterious ways with each other, as persons, the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Then in this relation, there is no division. It means that none acts differently. They are involved in the creation and the saving acts of man.
For example, during Creation, God the Father speaks. Through His Word (Jesus Christ), things came into existence and the Spirit of God brings things into manifestation (Job 26:13).
Trinity is simply the three coexistent, co-eternal, and co-equal Persons in one God.
The Tri-Unity of God in the Gospel.
In the gospel, Jesus said to his disciples,
‘I still have many things to say to you but they would be too much for you now. But when the Spirit of truth comes He will lead you to the complete truth, since he will not be speaking as from Himself but will say only what he has learnt; and he will tell you of the things to come. He will glorify me, since all he tells you will be taken from what is mine. Everything the Father has is mine; that is why I said: All he tells you will be taken from what is mine.’
1. The gospel affirms the existence of the Father, Son and the Spirit.
In this particular gospel, Jesus highlights the koinonia and unity that exists between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He also highlights how they work in oneness.
Also, the emphasis on the Tri-unity is revealed in the gospel. Here, Jesus emphasises the salvific role the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit play in the salvation of the human race.
In this gospel, to reveal how their nature is one and different, Jesus did not mention any Patriarch, saint or angel. He did not mention even His Blessed Mother.
The centre of the discussion is the Father, Son and the Spirit. The mention only reveals how they are three persons but One in their salvific role of the man.
They are three in One. Persons in One Divine Nature. This does not mean that we have three gods. In their nature as God, they act as one. None does what the other does not will.
2. In the gospel, God the Son is the One speaking about His relationship with the Father and the Spirit.
God the Son has spent time on earth teaching, preaching and telling people about the kingdom of God. Then, He is telling the disciples that He has a lot to tell them, but the Spirit will continue from where He stopped.
Remember that Jesus, sent his apostles in Acts 1:8, to go and preach to all nations and become living witnesses of the gospel. He did not ask the disciples to go on their own, but that they should wait for the Spirit, who will now lead them to all truth.
Now, if the Spirit is still going to do the work that Jesus does, then logically, the Spirit must be of the same power and nature as the Son. If they are not equal, how could He continue and complete the work of the Son? It is impossible.
3. Thirdly, Jesus explains the unity in the Godhead when He says “He will glorify me, since all he tells you will be taken from what is mine. Therefore, what the Holy Spirit tells will be taken from what belongs to Jesus.
Then Jesus concludes with “Everything the Father has is mine; that is why I said: All he tells you will be taken from what is mine.’
Therefore, if everything that the Father has is that of Jesus also, and the Holy Spirit will still tell from what belongs to Jesus, therefore, what the father has, is that of the Son and also taken by the Holy Spirit in Oneness and Undivided unity.
To explain more about this unity, Pope Benedict XVI says “ In the unity of the Tri-unity of God, The Father gives everything to the Son; the Son receives everything from the Father with gratitude, and the Holy Spirit is the fruit of this mutual love of the Father and the Son”.
Bible References to the Tri-unity of God.
In this Bible References, We shall divide them into two: First the Bible reference on the Three divine persons and the Bible Reference about the Three in One.
A. The Tri-unity of the Three Persons.
1. Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created heaven and the earth. The Hebrew word for God used in Genesis 1:1 is Elohim. Elohim is a plural word.
The word Elohim is the plural of El (or possibly Eloah. So, the mention of the word Elohim is already an indication of not more than one person.
2. Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. The use of the words “us” and “our” also indicates a plurality of persons but one God speaking.
3. Genesis 3:22 The LORD God said, Behold, the man has become as one of us to know good and evil.
Here, also the statement “as one of us” indicates a plurality of persons. Of course, God is not talking to angels, for angels are not involved in creation.
The Person that is present is the Wisdom of God Jesus Christ, who in the first reading, says that he was there when the heavens were made and He was there as the craftsman, John also explains this in John 1:1 when he says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Then through Him, all things were made” and the Spirit of God which Job speaks in Job 33:4 “The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life”.
4. In Matthew 3:16-17 When Jesus, was baptised, He went up straightway out of the water, the heavens were opened and the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And a voice from heaven [God the Father], saying, This is my beloved Son (Jesus Christ), in whom I am well pleased.
Here, we see the presence of all three Persons of the Trinity: the Spirit descending upon the Son and the Father speaking.
5. Then in Matthew 28:19, Jesus tells His disciples “Go, therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The three Persons in the Tri-unity were mentioned by Jesus.
B. The Tri-unity of God in One.
The Son is God
A.Colosians 1:15-16, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him, all things hold together.
B. Philippians 2:6-11
Although he was in the form of God and equal with God, He did not count as equality with God. Instead, he emptied himself by taking on the form of a servant, by becoming like other humans, and by having a human appearance.
John 8:58, Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!
John 10:30: I and the Father are one.”
John 14:9-11: Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and that the Father is in me? Also read John 1:1, John 1:14, Romans 9:5, Colossians 2:9, Hebrews 1:8, 1 John 5:20.
3. The Holy Spirit is God.
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.’” Matthew 3:11
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30.
Acts 5:3-4, Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” Also, read 1 Corinthians 3:16
The Tri-Unity of God and Christian Unity.
The Unity in the Godhead is a model of Christian unity. Therefore, it is a model to every person, to every Christian home and family.
The Tri-unity of God is a model for every Christian unity. The tri-unity of God teaches us how to work as one despite our many differences, backgrounds and environments.
It exposes us that until people come together and work as one, then there will be progress, understanding, love and breakthrough.
In division, we fail, but in unity, we rise.
A story was told about a man and His three sons. Both the man and his three sons went out to attend a ceremony. While coming back, the youngest among them, forgot the key to their house. Instead of trying to find a way and open the door, they were busy accusing the little boy and even beating Him.
While they were doing all these, nothing happened. It created more problems for them because it was already getting late at night.
Then it was while they were accusing the young boy, that a woman who was passing by told them that all the time they have been wasting and creating more problems for themselves, what if they beat the boy to death.
She told them that they have to channel that energy they are wasting to open the closed door. It was then that their eyes opened. The three boys together with the father now forced the door and it opened just within a few minutes.
The more we fight and kill ourselves, the more we create more problems for ourselves. We cannot solve any problem by killing and quarrelling among ourselves.
In this story, the hard and locked door was opened with the unity, togetherness, and coming together, of the three brothers. If every Christian can use that energy they use in fighting and killing themselves to bring unity among themselves, things would be better.
There would be more open doors, breakthroughs, progress and success if we come together and put our heads together. But we are using this energy in killing, planning evil and bringing the downfall of the other person.
The more we do this, thinking we do the other person, the more we also fight ourselves. There is more in unity than we think. The tri-unity of God is an exemplar of Christian unity.
1. The Holy Trinity, One God in three persons is a deep mystery. No human mind can penetrate the depths of this mystery because of our limitations. But the truth of the Trinity is not just a fabrication.
It is a truth that reveals itself through the salvation history of man and the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ. Through, these, we have to come to know that God is Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. What binds the three persons is love.
2. One of the secrets of the Trinity is a division of work. The Father plans, He is the Architect. Then, the Son performs – He carries out what the Father planned.
The Spirit reveals and manifests – He reveals and enforces what the Father has planned and what the Son has performed.
No member of the Godhead ever acts independently or out of sync with the other members.
In places of work, offices and organisations this should come into play to ensure the smooth running and growth of such institutions. No one does it all alone and no one knows it all alone.
3. The preface of today captures today’s mystery very well when it says “For with Your Only Begotten Son and the Holy Spirit, You are one God, one Lord not in the Unity of a single Person but a Trinity of One Substance. For what You have revealed to us of Your glory, we believe equally of Your Son and the Holy Spirit, so that confessing of the true and eternal Godhead, You might be adored in what is proper to each person their unity in substance and their equality in majesty”.
4. What binds the Trinity is love. Therefore, what must bind every Christian on earth is love. We do not glory in hatred. We do not glory in wickedness. Also, we do not have to pretend that we are one when we are not.
For us to remain in unity, True love must exist among us. Where there is true love, there is peace and unity. Where there is peace and unity, then there is progress.
Unless true love exists among us, we will still operate only on the level of pretence. True and sincere love are the keys that can bind any home, family, community and people together.
Do not long to see your brother suffer and die. That person you are praying that he fails suffers and dies today may be your saviour tomorrow. Without love and unity, everything we do is pretence. And pretence doesn’t last.
5. In the Trinity, there is also support. During creation, the three persons were present. In the salvation of man, the three persons also play a very active role.
The Holy Spirit was with Jesus all through His earthly ministry. God the father assures Him of His love during the baptism and transfiguration. Therefore, the tri-unity of God reveals to us the need to support and help one another.
The energy we channel in killing and pulling down the other person, if we put it together, we shall gain more progress.
When we see something good that the other person is doing, what we owe the person is our support and not pull Him down nor destroy Him.
Many homes today would have been great, if not that they do not want to come together and unite in one voice. They think that by fighting each other, they will succeed, but they forget that the more they do that, the more they destroy themselves.
6. A Kingdom divided against itself shall not stand. Therefore, let us come together and unite as one. With sincere love and unity, we can go higher. The Tri-unity of the Godhead is a model for every Christian community. Let us embrace it.
May God bless you dearest and give us the grace to live in unity. Amen
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