The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. (2 Cor 13: 13)
It is quite possible that in spending so much time trying to understand the mysteries of our faith by studying the more difficult passages of the Bible that we overlook the simple passages that propound the mysteries of our faith with far less difficulty. We see this with the last sentence of today’s second reading taken from the very last sentence of the last chapter of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians whereby he offers a brief farewell salutation that unlocks our hearts to the mystery of the Holy Trinity.
You won’t read the term “Holy Trinity” in the Bible, but you will find many instances of it. For example, Paul closes his second letter to the local church of Greek believers in Corinth with a blessing that asks for grace, love, and fellowship by attributing each one of these supernatural gifts as aspects of the three divine persons of the Blessed Trinity. The name of “God the Father” may not be obvious in Paul’s farewell address, but understanding correctly Saint Paul to be a pious Jew we are assured that his reference to “God” means “God the Father”.
The Father is the everlasting foundation of the Godhead and is often referred to by the Apostles and Church Fathers as “God”. This does not implicate his Son and Spirit as lesser beings than God, as the Jehovah Witnesses would wish us to believe. The Son and the Holy Spirit are God too. They are God by being of the same divine substance proceeding from the Father in their existence (Being). The mystery here is that they eternally proceed from the Father so that there was never a time when they did not exist and were not with the Father. In the language of the Bible, especially the New Testament, “God” often means “Father” only to stress that specific divine person who begets the Trinitarian Godhead although there was never a time when the Holy Trinity was not begotten.
Bedazzled yet? Good, you should be! For not even the great minds of St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas could precisely and adequately describe the infinite Godhead. To accomplish this they would have had to been able to describe the indescribable. This is why it is best to speak about the Holy Trinity through esteemed pulsations of the heart such as the blessing offered by Paul to the Corinthians; for the deep mysteries of God are often best understood by the heart, being made manifest through praise and blessings… and sacred art!
Thus we place on our bulletin cover for this Most Holy Trinity Sunday a work by Fra Filippo Lippi entitled Mystical Nativity or Adoration in the Forest (1459). Here we see an image of the Nativity which is intentionally expressive of the Holy Trinity. Lippi has used the primordial forest as a symbol of timelessness to disclose the three Eternal Divine Persons: Father, Son and Spirit. Both the Blessed Mother and St. Romuald (upper left) pray in Adoration to the Son, who in His assumed human nature authentically reveals the Father (Jn 14:9). Lippi also paints John the Baptist in a separate space to the left standing on a rock holding a banner which reads, “Behold, the Lamb of God”.
Long before there was life on earth, there was ever-abiding Life. There was without beginning the never-ending Most Holy Trinity.
-Steve Guillotte, Director of Pastoral Services