by Rev. Robert J. Wagner
Reprinted by Permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
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Matthew wrote to show that Christ
Messiah and fulfilled the Jewish prophecies.
The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they all saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."
During the 13th century, St. Thomas Aquinas offered five ways to deduce the existence of God using reason and the world around us (Summa Theologiae, Part Ia, q. 2, a. 3). For example, a simplified version of his first way begins with identifying the movements that exist in the world around us, such as the stars and the seas and the winds. In all these cases, we recognize that at some point, all these things must have been put in motion — for they can't move themselves. By doing this we end up with a chain of events for each movement: Something was moved by something else, which was moved by something else, and so on and so on. Eventually, we realize that all of these chains converge at a single point — the first movement. Who caused that first movement? An uncreated force that existed before all motion, who we recognize as God.
While this exercise in logic can help us recognize the existence of God at the start of creation, it tells us little else. It certainly does not offer the conclusion that this same God is eternal and triune, that is, made up of three Divine Persons. No, God Himself needed to reveal that for us, and we see it in the Scriptures. In Genesis, when God says, “Let us make man in our image” (cf. Gn 1:26), He hints at His triune nature. The fuller revelation, however, came when Our Heavenly Father sent His only-begotten Son into the world to save us from our sins, and that same Son sent the Holy Spirit — the Spirit of love who proceeds from the Father and the Son — so that God might remain with us forever.
Within this mystery of the Holy Trinity we understand the foundational truth that “God is love” (cf. 1 Jn 4:8). The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are united for all of eternity in the perfection of love. The universe, which flows forth from God, reflects the powerful, creative, beautiful and perfectly good love of Our Triune God.
As men and women created in God's image, we find ourselves in the middle of this mystery, intimately connected by reason of our very existence in God to the love that unites us to the Holy Trinity. Intimately connected as we are and recognizing our own participation in this mystery, we can rely on God to help us grow in love for Him and for one another.
In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, Jesus commands His apostles, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (cf. Mt 28:19). At our baptism, the Holy Spirit begins to dwell within us, which is another truth too amazing to imagine without God’s help. The Spirit of God exists in us, knows our depths, and prays on our behalf. However, Jesus promises that He and the Father, too, join the Holy Spirit within us: “If a man loves me, he will keep my word. And my Father will love him. And we will come to him and make our home with him” (cf. Jn 14:23).
How much of the world’s loneliness and desire to be totally known and loved could be satisfied if we understood this reality of a Trinitarian God who is love, who dwells within us so that we are never alone or unloved? How much sin and the resulting unhappiness and emptiness that stem from our search for happiness and fulfillment could be prevented and transformed if we were cognizant of God’s presence within us? How often do we enter within ourselves in order to dwell with the Trinity?
In order to begin our journey toward living out and responding to this mystery in our lives, we first must recognize this great gift of His presence inside us. Then, inspired and motivated by our own awareness of the Holy Trinity’s presence inside ourselves, we can begin to treat our brothers and sisters with greater reverence, recognizing that the reality of this mystery is playing out inside them as well. We are then prompted by Jesus’ command to invite others into this mystery — those who have not yet been baptized or who do not recognize this reality in their own lives.
Our triune God reveals Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit not for His sake, but for ours. Let us seek to delve deeper into the mystery of His love that we may find our fulfillment in this life and the next.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
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