Exodus 34:4-6,8-9, 2 Corinthians 13:11-13, John 3:16-18.
The Unity in the Trinity for Christianity.
Today, the Church celebrates a great mystery that God is One, though distinct in persons. Paul captures this in the second reason when He says “May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you,”.
Let me make it simple like this. During our baptism, Christians are baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit”.
Also, before the reception of the sacrament, we usually respond to a three-part question when we are asked to confess the Father, the Son and the Spirit, we always respond with “I do.” We do not profess to the Father alone, nor the Son and Holy Spirit.
This indicates the work of the Three Persons in one act of baptism. God the Father is not working differently from the Son and the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the faith of all Christians rests on the Trinity.”
In the gospel of Saint John 14:8-10, Jesus exposes the truth, the teachings and the reality of the Holy Trinity for our Christian lives.
Then, in the gospel of Saint John 18:8-10, Philip asks Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and that is enough for us”. In reply, Jesus says to him, “Am I with you all for so long a time, and you have not known me, Philip? To have seen Me is to have seen the Father.
To analyze this in detail, the question that Philip asks Jesus is to show them the Father, in essence refers to two distinct persons; Jesus and the Father. Instead of Jesus showing how distinct He is from the Father, He points to Himself.
The question was about the Father but Jesus pointed to Himself as the true revelation of the Father, that Philips requests.
Here, Jesus reaffirms the unity, oneness and equality that exists between Him and the Father. This is the message of the Trinity. The Message is that in the Trinity, there are Three persons but One God.
The three persons here connote Philip’s questions while the Oneness connotes Jesus’ response. There is but One God, one in essence, substance and divinity, though three persons.
If there is no trinity, it is an utter disrespect, for Jesus to point to Himself as the revelation of the Father. Rather, He says “How is it you say, ‘Show us the Father, Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?
Here, Jesus reveals the Oneness, equality, and unity that exists between Him and the Father. This is what we are celebrating today.
An angel would not have said, to have seen me is to have seen the Father, Only Jesus does that, which in essence summarizes the solemnity of today.
After washing the feet of His disciples in John 13:15, Jesus says to them, I have set you an example that you should follow as I have done for you.
Therefore, Jesus gives them a real standard for living our Christian lives. The standard that Jesus sets for them is to live in love, unity, peace and service of one another, which we can certainly confirm is the standard of the Trinity.
Remember that in Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus now commands His apostles, ‘Go and make disciples of all the nations, and baptize them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.’
Therefore, one of the all that Jesus has commands them to tell us to obey, is to live like the Trinity. Unity in the Trinity should be the standard of Christianity.
The Mystery of the Trinity.
Today, we are celebrating the central tenet of our Christian faith. We are celebrating one of the greatest mysteries of our faith, if not the greatest.
The Oneness of God is flashed in Deuteronomy 6:4 when God says, “Hear O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”. Take note of the “One”.
Also in Isaiah 44:6, God says, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.” Jesus addresses the same to Himself in Revelation 22:13, when He says “ I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
Verse 16 of this chapter tells us that Jesus is the one talking about Himself, using the same words that the Father used in Isaiah 44:6.
2. The word Trinity comes from the Latin word Trinitas, meaning “three” or “triad.” The Greek equivalent of this word is triados. Trinity is simply two conjoined words “tri” meaning three and “unity” meaning one.
So, literally, it is tri-unity meaning three in one. You do not expect one to go to the bible and find the exact use of this word, but the truth of the Trinity is contained in the bible.
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. What we are celebrating today is that God is three persons but One God.
God the Father, the Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit though persons is 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.
What the Church teaches.
To articulate the dogma of the Trinity, the Church uses certain terms like: “substance”, “person” “hypostasis”, “relation” and so on.
Substance means what makes something that it is. It is the nature of a thing. What differentiates a being from another is the substance.
What differentiates a tree from an animal is the treeness. This is only to understand what substance is and not in any way to explain the essence of the Divinity.
So, here we can say that in their nature and divinity, God is one. In their divinity, they are one. The Father is divine, the Son is divine and the Holy Spirit is divine.
The Holy Trinity is one in their substance( Godhead) and different in their persons. Persons indicate the distinct nature of a thing. 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”.
In defining the Trinity, the Church says: “The Trinity is One. We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three persons, the consubstantial Trinity. The divine persons do not share one divinity among themselves, but each is entirely God. The divine persons are distinct from one another. God is one but not solitary. Father, Son, Holy Spirit are not simply names designating modalities of the divine being, for they are distinct from one another” (CCC253-255, p.82-83).
According to the Church’s teaching, this indicates that the Father is that which the Son is, the Son is that which the Father is, the Father and the Son are that which the Holy Spirit is, i.e. by nature of one God.” but in their persons, The Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Holy Spirit. In the words of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), “Each of the persons is that supreme reality, viz., the divine substance, essence or nature” (CCC 253).
So, while they relate in some mysterious ways with each other, as persons, the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit though distinct are one God. Hence, in the Godhead, there is no division. None acts differently. They are involved in the creation and the saving acts of man.
In Summary, these are what the Church says about the Mystery Surrounding the Truth of the Holy Trinity. Follow these in detail and meditate on them. We follow them one by One.
a. Firstly, “The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of the Christian faith and Christian life. God alone can make it known to us by revealing himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit”. (CCC 261).
Therefore, the Church affirms that this is a mystery. This knowledge can truly be known wholesomely through a supernatural revelation.
This is why we follow the teachings of the church on this so as not to fall into error. The Church has the truth of eternal truths. Jesus once said to Peter “On this Rock, I will build my church”.
2. Secondly, The Incarnation of Jesus reveals that God is the eternal Father and that the Son is One and consubstantial with the Father, which means that, in the Father and with the Father the Son is one and the same God, (CCC 262 ).
This is why He tells Philip, “To have seen me is to have seen the Father (John 14:9). He also says in John 10:30 “I and the Father are one”.
3. Also, the mission of the Holy Spirit, which is sent by the Father in the name of the Son (John 14:26) and by the Son “from the Father” (Jn 15:26), reveals that, with them, the Spirit is one and the same God. “With the Father and the Son He is worshipped and glorified” (Nicene Creed). (CCC 263 ).
4. “The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father as the first principle and, by the eternal gift of this to the Son, from the communion of both the Father and the Son” (St. Augustine, De Trin. 15, 26, 47: PL 42, 1095). (CCC 264).
5. Now this is the Catholic faith: We worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity, without either confusing the persons or dividing the substance; for the person of the Father is one, the Son is another, the Holy Spirit is another; but the Godhead of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal” (Athanasian Creed: DS 75; ND 16). (CCC 266).
I hope this is very helpful and well understood.
A Little Biblical Analogy.
Let us just have a brief from the bible. I added this because of those who may think that the truth of the Trinity is not in the Bible. Let us have a little walk:
1. In the book of Genesis 1:26, God says “Let us make man in our image and likeness”. Here, the Creator did not say let me create, rather He uses a mysterious word “Let us”. So, we wonder who is the ‘us’ here.
The angels cannot create, and the patriarchs cannot create, therefore, this statement is not in any way addressed to them. But of Jesus, the scripture says “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. (John 1:3).
For by Him, all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him (Colossians 1:16), He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him (John 1:10).
Paul summarizes everything when He says “Yet for us, there is but one God (read again with emphasis) the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him (1 Corinthians 8:6).
Therefore, the “us” refers to a Co-creator, whom the bible says in John 1:1-4: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made; without him, nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind, Jesus Christ.
3. Then the psalmist affirms the work of the Holy Spirit at creation when He says “You send forth Your Spirit, they are created, And You renew the face of the earth” (Psalm 104:30).
Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Job says “The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4). Therefore, the Spirit of God is also A Creator, Just like the Father and the Son. The “Us” must be the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
2. This is also echoed in Isaiah 6:8. In that glorious vision of the LORD God in his temple, Isaiah hears God asking, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
3. Before Creation, Genesis 1:1-2 says “The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God speaks things into creation. This indicates the presence of the Trinity at creation.
During the time of recreation In the New Testament, Jesus now is the one in the water, the Father speaks and the Holy Spirit also hovers over the water of baptism at the river Jordan. (Matt 3:16-17).
In John 5:19, Jesus says emphatically “Whatever the Father does the Son also does”. The Trinity is one.
4. In the first reading, Lord descends on Moses in the form of a cloud, as He did during the transfiguration in Matthew 17:1-8.
The cloud reveals the glory, the power and the Spirit of God. God manifests to Moses in different ways, through His Spirit. Let us not forget, that cloud combined with light is often used as a symbol of the Holy Spirit.
The Unity of the Trinity For Christianity.
When we look at the Trinity, what we shall see are unity, oneness, love, togetherness, harmony and service. None is idle and none works alone. They work together for one mission but distinctly according to the functions of each other.
The Trinity is inseparable in what they are and inseparable in what they do. Then within that single divine operation or mission, each shows forth what is proper to him in the Trinity.
This is revealed more especially in the divine missions of the Son’s Incarnation and the gift of the Holy Spirit. (CCC 267).
Therefore, by the grace of Baptism “in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit”, we are called also to share in the same life of the Blessed Trinity, here on earth. (CCC 265).
This is a call to eschew laziness, hatred, disunity, uncalled disobedience, disintegrations and divisions. We are called to imitate the Trinity and work with perfect harmony, love and togetherness. There’s an unbreakable bond that unites Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This unbreakable bond must be the thing that unites us.
Jesus says, “I will ask the Father and He will give you another Comforter” (14:6). In this statement, Jesus reveals their distinct nature, but working together for the same salvific plan and each operating in their different roles, as they did during creation for the same purpose, yet in harmony.
The Father sends the Son to the earth. We can see a replica of this in the gospel of today. The gospel says that God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life.
As the Father sends the Son, the Son reveals the Father, and then the Father and Son send the Holy Spirit. The spirit came, He testified to the work of the Son and the Father.
Have you seen the Koinonia? Each works for the same purpose though in different operations but harmoniously.
This is the harmony that must characterize the body of Christ. When we have a mission to accomplish, we should come together to work with one heart, though in our different functions but work together to achieve one purpose. There should be an unbreakable bond that must unite us and not divide us.
Hence, we have instead of allowing ourselves to be governed by this trinitarian standard, we have soaked ourselves in divisions, family disunity, court cases, wickedness, jealousy, envy etc.
As Saint Paul says in the second reading, we have to “try to grow perfect love; help one another, be united; live in peace etc. When you do these, the God of love and peace will be with you.
1. From these, we can observe that one who is of God is always immersed in love, peace, reverence, unity and togetherness. This is what is revealed in the first reading. Moses obeys whatever God says. We do not allow ourselves to be disrupted by an earthly mentality.
We do not claim to be of God, speak in tongues, or pray down fire from heaven when we are still in enmity and disunity with people around us.
Therefore that standard of trinitarian oneness should be the standard for our Christian lives. The unity in the Trinity should be the standard that must guide everything that we do.
2. In John 10:30, Jesus says “ I and the Father are one. Immediately, His Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him. Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?
They replied to him that they are not stoning him for any good work,” “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
So, the controversy surrounding the belief in the Trinity does not start today. It also happened to the Jews. Yet towards the end of the discussion, Jesus still repeated to them the same truth He wants them to understand.
He said in verse 38 of the same John 10 “The Father is in me, and I in the Father”. This is the same truth that the Church continues to speak and teach but many people do not yet understand or want to understand it, rather like the Jews, they pick up stones to attack the church and her teachings. Let us always be guided.
3. The Trinity reveals to us one of the greatest secrets of success that never fails. And I write here that anyone who applies this secret in any mission, operation, work, or occupation will never fail. This is teamwork.
A great philosopher Napoleon Hill says that there is no failure when we involve teamwork. He says “Teamwork is harmonious cooperation that is willing, voluntary and free. Whenever the spirit of teamwork is the dominating influence in business or industry, success is inevitable. Harmonious cooperation is a priceless asset that you can acquire in proportion to your giving.”
Bring Teamwork into your business, it will solve half of your problems. That is the reason that husband and wife must always come together and put heads together to make things work.
Like the Holy Trinity, it takes trust, communication, unselfishness and a common goal to break any barrier. If one member of the team has secret selfish motives, if misunderstanding creeps in, then the common goal will always be in a quagmire.
John Maxwell says “Teamwork divides the effort and multiplies the effect.
b. Talent wins games, but teamwork wins championships c. Teamwork is not about you.d. Great teams create community. e. Adding value to others adds value to you.
4. Most families that are praying for breakthrough, success and progress did not know that they are the people holding themselves. How can a family decide to be fighting, quarrelling and pulling each other down and still expects to succeed?
How can a family who instead of supporting each other, decide to be fighting each other or one person decided that He should be only the person to be a light, hence you want the family to succeed? Once hatred, envy, jealousy, dissension etc enter into a union, family, or association, forget it, they will crumble. No Kingdom divided against itself shall stand.
5. The Trinity also reveals to us the importance of communication. Apart from Unity, there is this harmonious communication in the Trinity. We see this in the Creation story, baptism, incarnation,mission of Jesus etc. Lack of communication affects the growth of any organization, association or relationship.
Imagine a family where a father does not talk to the wife and the wife does not talk to the husband and the children do not talk to their parents.
Imagine an organization where the manager does not communicate with the workers, how will they know the problems of the organization?
As we talk about unity, let us not forget the need to communicate which the Trinity constantly reveals to us.
Leaders should always communicate with people. This will help them to understand their plight and hence find a way to solve the problems. We should not govern from the mountain.
We need to come down and be at one with the people to understand them. Families should make it a rule to come together once in a while and discuss the problems of the family.
6. Finally, One of the secrets of the Trinity is a division of work. The Father plans, He is the Architect. 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 organizations 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.
7. Unity in the Trinity should be the standard of Christianity. Let us not be Christians by mouth. Love, peace, unity, and true service must characterize all that we do. The Trinity is the standard for breakthrough, success, progress and Christianity. Apply the standard, everything around you will change.
May God bless You.