One Church, One Faith and One Spirit: Make us Truly One, O Lord!
Readings: (1st: Prov 8, 22-33; Ps: 8, 4-9; 2nd: Rom 5, 1-5 Gos: Jn 16, 12-15)
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers, Province of Nigeria South East. He is currently the parochial vicar of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church Woliwo Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria. For more details contact him on:firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or +23408063767512
As we return to the Ordinary Time in the Church’s liturgical calendar, today the Universal Church celebrates the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. Once, a very curious young girl rushed to her father – a professor of Mathematics, and asked him: “Daddy, daddy, I have always heard Priests say during weddings that the Mathematics of marriage is 1+1=1. Is it true, and are they right?” The man not knowing what to answer immediately paused for a while. Then he broke the silence and asked his daughter: “Have you ever heard me say that before?” The girl responded: “No daddy”! The man continued: “Fr. Thomas is your friend right?” The girl agreed: “Yes daddy”! He finally said to her: “The next time you see him, ask him to solve this mathematic for you because, he is an expert in the Mathematics of marriage okay?” And the girl responded: “Okay daddy”. The man applied Wisdom in order to avoid solving and failing this simple linear equation (1+1=1), the answer of which is absolutely wrong going by the rule of Mathematics, and human reasoning.
In today’s first reading, Wisdom is personified. He is both God the Creator, and at the same time, the witness to creation. In order words, as we celebrate the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity today, we are reminded that it is only the Trinitarian God that can comprehend and explain Himself in His fullness. As humans, the wisdom we possess is only but a spark of the Wisdom which is God Himself: “The wisdom of man is foolishness before God” (I Cor 3, 19). Hence, ours is limited while God’s is absolute, all encompassing, deeper and wider than the whole of creation. This means that it is only the Creator that can comprehend the creature not the other way round. So, in as much as the mystery we celebrate today is real, it can only be fully comprehended by the three divine persons themselves. Therefore, we must be humble, to admit only of the things that it pleases God to reveal to us. Poking into the deep and depth of the Trinitarian unity makes us vulnerable to crashing out.
In the second reading, Paul tells us that: “The LOVE of GOD is poured into our hearts by the HOLY SPIRIT.” From this, one can gain some insight into what this union is like. The LOVE of GOD is JESUS CHRIST who like the HOLY SPIRIT cannot be separated from God. Each of them do their work and yet they remain one and undivided. The gospel reading further buttress’s this bond of unity that exists between the three divine persons. Each and every one of them bears witness to the word and truth that others profess. Each affirms and confirms the work of others. None of them confuses or contradicts the other. They work at the same time, place and on the same project. They are not separated by time, or season, and so operate in the same era. Just as their mission and work is not divided, their glory is also not divided because, they are ONE.
The doctrine and theology of Trinity is one that has raised lots of debates and controversies in the history of the church. For some, it could best be termed “confused,” because they found it absolutely incomprehensible. How can there be three individual persons in one God? They angrily question. Yet for others because it is incomprehensible, it has been tagged a Mystery. This terrain is therefore not to be walked by those who walk by sight or as Paul puts it: “it cannot be unraveled by human wisdom or philosophy. It defiles all forms of mathematical and logical calculations. Unfortunately, some who have attempted to unravel this mystery with mundane wisdom have been caught by the dangerous trap set by heresy. Although the name Trinity is no where mentioned in the scriptures, but we know that Jesus commands us to: “Baptize them in the name of the father the son and the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28, 19; Acts 2, 38). The Tradition and Magisterium of the Church teach that: “The divine persons are relative to one another… Because it does not divide the divine unity, the real distinction of the persons from one another resides solely in the relationships which relate them to one another…. because of that unity the Father is wholly in the Son and wholly in the Holy Spirit…” (CCC255). In light of this, Trinity is a doctrine that holds that there are three distinct persons united in one divine nature. This means that there are “three persons in one God”.
As we celebrate the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity today, we must pause to reflect on what it means to us a people and Church. We must learn from them that we must remain united in faith. This of course means, respecting one another. Here, the principle of complementarity and collaborative ministry must not be over looked. However, this unity must not rob us of the uniqueness of our being and individuality. The saying that: “in the church, there is unity but no uniformity” comes to mind. This is true, and expresses itself in the different modes and shades of spirituality which exists in the Church. In spite of these, all of us are still united in the pursuit of God’s kingdom. Thomas Aquinas says that: “The ultimate goal of spirituality is the glorification of God, while its proximate goal is the sanctification of man” (Summa Theologiae, Taurini: Marietti, 1948), I-II, g. 112, a. 4.). Yes, as one united but not uniformed people, we must work earnestly towards this goal. Furthermore, just as each of the three persons is unique, also each one of us is created unique. Just as they are not selfish but work with one purpose, we must not be selfish or work for our personal gratification. Just as no one member of the divine persons lords it over the other, we must in this church of ours eschew the wicked spirit of segregation, “cliquism”, hatred, unforgiveness, “god-fatherism”, ill-fated manipulations, oppression, suppression and the unjust treatment of any member of this One, Holy, Apostolic and Trinitarian Church.
How we can live together in this one big family – the Universal Church, without bursting the ego of the other, without destructive tendencies and frictions, without robbing others of their unique identity? We must learn that all the conflicts, rough and cutting ages we go through are ways through which our union is strengthened. History has proved this to be right. However, it is important to note that if we must remain united, we cannot resolve our conflicts by banding words, gossiping, spreading falsehood, rumour mongering, fermenting and propagating propagandas, flexing of “ecclesiastical muscles”, ungodly lobbying, pulling ugly strings, obdurately refusing to shift our position on issues or by carrying sledge hammers, weapons of mass destruction, daggers, and all sort of man-made weapons. Hence, Paul reminds us that: “…For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal …” (2 Cor 10, 4). We must also be ready to come to terms with reality, and be ready, irrespective of what it will cause us to preserve the unity of our Church. If really we must live together as the divine persons of the Trinity do, we must love and respect the other, and humble ourselves as Jesus Christ did (Phil 2, 6-1). It is only when we live together as the three divine persons do, that: “The greatness of the name of the Lord will be made known through all the earth” (Ps. 8, 2).
Peace be with you all!