Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.
Last week I went
down to John XXIII parish for a daily Mass
and heard Fr. Herb Weber
that Trinity Sunday inevitably brings
the worst homily of the
year, every year.
I think I know why.
The doctrine of the Trinity puts God
in a box.
We've heard the explanations.
Three persons in one God.
a triangle with three sides, still one triangle.
Like a chicken egg, with a
shell, a yolk, and a white, still one egg.
Like an apple, with skin, flesh,
and seeds, still one apple.
Like water as ice, as liquid, and steam, still
And, of course, like the three-lobed leaf of a shamrock…
Doctrines like the
Trinity develop from an experience of the divine,
an original encounter with
God that a person tries to talk about.
We memorize the doctrine,
can't let the understanding
of one person or one time period
litmus test of our faith.
Our faith will falter
if we try to rely on
somebody else's description
of their experience of God's presence.
As our understanding of
the world grows,
as our time in history changes,
as our life situation
so must our understanding of God
grow and change and
What really matters is
not how they described their experience of
but how we experience the presence of God.
That's not to say that we
can't learn from our ancestors in faith.
Hearing how they have
experienced the divine
can help us recognize God in our own
Take the Sign of the Cross, our declaration of trinitarian
in the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy
But we experience God's presence
ways than that trinitarian formula.
One of my favorites is Luke
where Jesus laments over Jerusalem, saying
“...how many times I
yearned to gather your children together
as a hen gathers her brood under her
So we may experience God as a Father… and a Mother,
as the source
of all being, gracious mystery, creator,
the almighty one, sustainer,
divine presence, perfect love.
We may experience Jesus as the
Son of God… and as the Christ,
our brother, teacher, friend, healer,
of the living and the dead, Messiah,
companion on the way, love.
experience the Holy Spirit as the giver of life…
and as Paraclete, helper,
advocate, consoler, inspirer,
enlivener, breath of God, indwelling
I find it telling that,
in all of the Hebrew scriptures,
the word “father” for God is barely a
used just ten times.
And the word “trinity” is not found anywhere
in the Bible.
The first recorded use of "trinity"
was by Theophilus of
Antioch in the late 2nd century.
He defined the Trinity
as God, God's
Word, and God's Wisdom Sophia
in the context of a discussion of the first
three days of creation.
Half a century after that
defense of the Trinity
against the Praxean heresy
that said Jesus was the
But Tertullian's argument against Praxeus suggested
the Son was subordinate to the Father,
which was later judged to be a heresy
of its own.
The struggle over the Trinity went on.
By the 12th century,
people were commonly describing God
as both father and mother,
abbot Bernard of Clairvaux in the 12th century
and the abbess Julian of
Norwich in the 15th.
Some of Julian's views were not typical.
She wrote of
the Trinity as a family,
with God as the father
and Jesus as both brother
and mother—there's that hen again!
Discussion went on and on over the
eventually giving us what we have now,
the requirement of Roman
that we believe in the doctrine of the
It's pretty obvious
from that bit of history that doctrine develops.
How that fits
teaching that revelation is over
St. Thomas Aquinas
taught—back in the 1200s—
that revelation ended with the death of the last
about the year 100 AD.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
unequivocally states that,
after that time, “There will be no further
What we don't usually hear about is that the Catechism,
the very next sentence, goes on to state that
“even if revelation is already
it has not been made completely explicit;
it remains for
gradually to grasp its full significance
over the course
of the centuries.”
continue that age-old quest for the living God.
Revelation is not
God is not dead.
Each time we read and ponder the
each time we pray,
each time we reach out in love to another
we see God revealed anew,
among and within us,
Glory be to God!
Holy Spirit Catholic
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m./Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central
Avenue (Washington Church)
Rev. Dr. Bev
Mailing address: 3156 Doyle Street, Toledo, OH 43608-2006