Lesson Three: On The Unity And Trinity Of God

Lesson Three: On The Unity And Trinity Of God

 

Hello and welcome to lesson three where we are unlocking the truths that we find in the Baltimore Catechism. In particularly we will be studying the subject, The unity, and Trinity of God. Over the last several weeks, we learned about the purpose of our life. We've learned about the perfections of God and how we can know God. But who is God? And what does our Catholic faith teach us about this mystery of the unity and Trinity of God? Maybe your child has asked you these very questions. And maybe your conversation went something like this: "Is Jesus God?" "Yes, Jesus is God." "Well then who's the Father?" "The Father is God." "But I thought Jesus was God!" "Yes, Jesus is God. The Father is God. The Holy Ghost is God." "But we only have one God." "Yes, one God." And so then your child just stares at you. And then with a long sigh they say, "I'm so confused." How many of us adults still try to wrap our brain around this great mystery of our faith, this supernatural divine mystery.

Before we continue our study today, let us pray:
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen. Glory, be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be a world without end, Amen. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

In our prayer that we just prayed, we referenced the Holy Trinity three times in the last 30 seconds. How often have we actually stopped to think about what it means to say in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost? Yet it is weaved into the very fabric of our daily lives. Our liturgy, our daily prayers. We always think about Father, Son and Holy Ghost, but are we ever intentional about understanding that these three persons in nature are one God all with the same power and equality, none is greater than the other. None is the same as the other. What a mystery. What is a mystery? The world tells us that a mystery is something that is impossible to understand, but the Church tells us that a mystery is something impossible to understand, unless God reveals it to us. And then our response is faith.

What is divine revelation? What does it mean for God to reveal something about himself to us? Well, think about someone you're getting to know or someone that you love deeply. You want to know everything about them. You want them to know everything about you. And so you share that with them. God who is infinitely perfect, needs no one. Needs nothing. He loves us so much that he wants to share his divine life with us. And so he has revealed things about himself so that we can come to know him a little bit better. We may, we will, never understand fully the mystery of the Holy Trinity. However, we can come to know God more, through what he has revealed himself to be.

When we talk about the Holy Trinity, when we talk about the unity of God, let's look at two words. Person and nature. The nature of something is what it is, what it can do. The person is who it is. Think about walking into a darkened room and you see something silhouetted. You might ask yourself, what is that? As your eyes get accustomed to the light, you can see it's a person. So your question now turns to who is that? "Well, what does that have to do with the Trinity?", you might be saying. What has God revealed himself to be? His nature. He is one God. Who has he revealed himself to be? Three persons. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. We think about who and what God is. What God can do. God is all powerful, all just, all merciful, all loving. God is eternal.

The Father is all just, the father is all knowing. The Son is all just, the Son is all knowing. The Holy Ghost is all just, The Holy Ghost is all knowing. Yet none of them are each other. You can look at the diagram on Traditionalcatechism .com, and the page Baltimore Catechism: Unity and Trinity Of God, and we see that God is Father, Son and Holy Ghost, but the Son is not the Father or the Holy Ghost. The Father is not the Son or the Holy Ghost. And the Holy Ghost is neither the Father or the Son. Three distinct persons, one nature of God. One of the things that has helped me to understand what we believe a little bit more is actually the Nicene Creed. What are the words that we pray in the Nicene creed?

"We believe in one God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. Of all things visible and invisible. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ. The only begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages, God, from God, light from light, true God from true God begotten not made consubstantial with the Father. Through him all things were made. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord, the giver of life who proceeds from the Father and the Son who with the Father and the Son are adored and glorified. Who has spoken through the prophets."

The Nicene creed puts into words what we believe. That for all time, God has existed. And that for all time, God has been Trinitarian. That the Son is begotten of the Father. Not made. Consubstantial (of the same substance or essence) with the Father. That the Spirit proceeds from the love of the Father and the Son. So the only thing that separates them is their origin. For all eternity the Father begets the Son. And for all eternity, the Son is begotten by the Father. And for all eternity, the love of the Father for the Son and the Son for the Father produces the Spirit.

Saint Basil said that, "Every divine action begins from the Father, proceeds through the Son, and is completed in the Holy Spirit." So how do we come to know God? We come to the Father through the Son in the Holy Ghost.

Allow me to share with you a reading from the gospel of John chapter 14:1-3 "Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house there are many mansions or dwelling places. If not, I would have told you: because I go to prepare a place for you. And if I shall go, and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will take you to myself; that where I am, you also may be.. And do you know the way where I am going?" Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father. But by me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. Hence forth ,you know him and have seen him." Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father and we shall be satisfied." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long? And yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'show us the Father?' Do you not believe that I am in the Father? and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you, I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works, believe me, that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you. He who believes in me will also do the works that I do. And greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it. That the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. Even the Spirit of Truth whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for he dwells with you and will be in you."

The Father, the giver of life, creator of life, merciful, forgiving, Christ the Redeemer, the Word incarnate, the Word made flesh who came to earth to redeem us. And the Holy Spirit who moves and lives and breathes within each and every one of us, Is so incredible to think about. Because of the gift of our baptism, we have God dwelling within us, the Holy Spirit, living within us, Christ's incarnation. The word became flesh, was the full revelation of the Trinitarian life of God. When we see Jesus, we see the Father.

A second place that we see the Trinitarian nature of God, is at the baptism of Jesus. As Jesus is baptized the heavens open up and the Spirit descends like a dove. And you hear the voice of the Father say, "This is my beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased." So the incarnation of Christ, God becoming man, is when the nature of God who is Trinitarian, is fully revealed to us.

But we can go back to Genesis, to the very beginning of scriptures, authored by God himself, and we can see that God is eternally Trinitarian. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, let there be light. There was light." We skip ahead to Genesis one verse 26. "Then God said, let US make man in OUR image after OUR likeness and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air." "Let US make man in OUR image." The Bible, from the very beginning, reveals how amazing our existence is. Because God has never needed us, but God loves us into existence. He formed man out of love and the dust of the earth, and breathed into his nostrils, and man became a living soul. He formed the woman out of love and the rib of Adam,  and Eve became a living soul.

You see at his very essence, God is love. And when we think of love and think of what we as human beings experience and know of as love, remember we are made in the likeness and the image of God. Love is an action of ourselves toward another. We love someone. They are loved. Remember, God doesn't need anyone else or anything else because he is Trinitarian. God is love. The Trinitarian life makes sense because the Father loves the Son, and the Son returns the love of the Father. And out of that love,comes the Holy Ghost.

We see this example in the life of the family, the husband loves his wife, the wife fully returns that love to the husband and out of that love another life is brought forth. They are part of the family going back to nature and person. What is it? The family, who is it? Husband, wife, and child.

One other example, I think of to try to, again, wrap our brains around this mystery, is that of a flame. We have a fire. The fire produces heat and light. But they are co-existent co-eternal. You cannot take light from the heat, from the flame. They are all one. When I have a torch and I light another torch, nothing is taken from that first torch. One light does not lose anything. Each of the three divine persons is fully God with the same power, the same ability, eternal God, the Son is eternal. God, the Holy Spirit is eternal. God, the Father is eternal.

The last thing I want to talk about today are the words in the Nicene Creed that talk about Jesus as the only begotten Son of God. Born not made consubstantial with the Father. We say for all time, that God has been Trinitarian. But the incarnation of Jesus is when God becomes man. So who does John say that Jesus is? In the gospel of John, in chapter one, we hear, "In the beginning was the word and the word was with God. And the word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him. And without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it." Think about what I said concerning Genesis one. "Then God said".

Now we think of "said" as something that comes out of our mouth, but remember, God is spirit. So a thought, but not confined by human thought, that thought of God is infinite. So the word becomes flesh, becomes Christ incarnate. And then Christ reveals that through him we see the face of the Father. And that following him, the advocate will come, the Spirit.

We could spend hours talking about the mystery of the Holy Trinity and still never be able to come to a complete understanding. But what we need to know, and what we need to live firmly, is that we believe in one God, three divine persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. We believe in this mystery of our faith because God has revealed it to us out of love, because he wants us to be in an intimate relationship with him.

As you continue through this week, I challenge you in each and every one of your prayers, every time you begin with the sign of the cross, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Remember always that we go to the Father through the Son in the power of the Holy Ghost who dwells within each and every one of us. Finally, I invite you to remember the commissioning of the disciples. We find at the end of the gospel of Matthew in chapter 28, "go baptize and teach in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.

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