Central idea: The Most Holy Trinity. Doctrine: The mystery of the Trinity. Practical application: Living as children of God.
To view Lectionary 166, click here.
Central idea: The Most Holy Trinity
Reading 1 Prv 8:22-31
Thus says the wisdom of God:
“The LORD possessed me, the beginning of his ways,
the forerunner of his prodigies of long ago;
from of old I was poured forth,
at the first, before the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no fountains or springs of water;
before the mountains were settled into place,
before the hills, I was brought forth;
while as yet the earth and fields were not made,
nor the first clods of the world.
“When the Lord established the heavens I was there,
when he marked out the vault over the face of the deep;
when he made firm the skies above,
when he fixed fast the foundations of the earth;
when he set for the sea its limit,
so that the waters should not transgress his command;
then was I beside him as his craftsman,
and I was his delight day by day,
playing before him all the while,
playing on the surface of his earth;
and I found delight in the human race.”
- Wisdom is a person’s correct understanding of reality and how to live in it. In the Old Testament Book of Proverbs wisdom is personified. Something that is a personal attribute is spoken of as if it were a person.
- In the light of Christ’s revelation, we can see the Wisdom of God not as the personification of an attribute of God but as an actual person: the eternally preexisting Son of God, the Word. At the beginning of his Gospel, St. John tells us, “All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race” (Jn 1: 3-4).
- In the light of Christ’s revelation, we can also see the Wisdom of God as another actual person: the eternally preexisting Holy Spirit. As today’s Gospel puts it, “when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.”
- It is not so surprising that God is a wise and good and effortless maker, with Wisdom playing at his side. It is more surprising and so encouraging that his Wisdom “found delight in the human race.” The Lord takes delight in human beings and elevates them, as the responsorial psalm declares.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 8:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
R. O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
When I behold your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars which you set in place —
What is man that you should be mindful of him,
or the son of man that you should care for him?
You have made him little less than the angels,
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him rule over the works of your hands,
putting all things under his feet:
All sheep and oxen,
yes, and the beasts of the field,
The birds of the air, the fishes of the sea,
and whatever swims the paths of the seas.
- As Proverbs puts it, “I found delight in the human race.” God delights in all of his good creation. But God specially delights in man. Why? The reason is that God has made man in a particular way, in His image and likeness.
- This image and likeness is in giving man a rational soul, so man can consciously know the truth and freely seek the good.
- This image and likeness is also in making us relational. Like the knowing and loving internal life of the three persons of the Blessed Trinity, we are also made to know and love other persons.
- “Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity. Through his very bodily condition he sums up in himself the elements of the material world. Through him they are thus brought to their highest perfection and can raise their voice in praise freely given to the Creator.” (CCC 364)
- Every single created being, whether inanimate or animate, gives glory to God because it reflects its creator in some way. But in this material creation, only human beings–a unity of matter and spirit–can know this truth and can give it voice.
Reading 2 Rom 5:1-5
Brothers and sisters:
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have gained access by faith
to this grace in which we stand,
and we boast in hope of the glory of God.
Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions,
knowing that affliction produces endurance,
and endurance, proven character,
and proven character, hope,
and hope does not disappoint,
because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
- “The Holy Spirit . . . has been given to us.” The Holy Spirit gives us gifts and above all the gift of love.
- St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that any real gift is given without the intention of a return and it wishes the receiver well. So, what precedes any actual gift is an underlying love. Since the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son as love, He proceeds as the first gift. From this first gift, “many particular gifts are portioned out to the members of Christ.” (ST, I, q. 39, a. 2)
- Through Our Lord Jesus Christ we have peace with God the Father—even in affliction—because his love is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
Gospel Jn 16:12-15
Jesus said to his disciples:
“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,
he will guide you to all truth.
He will not speak on his own,
but he will speak what he hears,
and will declare to you the things that are coming.
He will glorify me,
because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.
Everything that the Father has is mine;
for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine
and declare it to you.”
- Jesus tells his disciples, “Everything that the Father has is mine.” What does this mean? The Magisterium teaches, “We learn from the Incarnation of God the Son that God the Father and God the Son are ‘consubstantial.’” This means that they are “one and the same God” (CCC 262). That is, they are the same substance or essence.
- Jesus also tells his disciples that the Spirit of truth “will take from what is mine [which is also the Father’s] and declare it to you.” This is the “mission of the Holy Spirit.” According to the Magisterium, we learn from this mission that “the Spirit is one and the same God,” too (CCC 263).
- Sharing in the one substance or essence of God are three divine persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
- How could anyone know this unless it were revealed?
Doctrine: The mystery of the Trinity
- The Trinity is the central mystery both of our Christian faith (what we believe) and of Christian life (how we are to behave). The Trinity is at the heart of what Christ came to reveal and how he teaches us to live. (HD 21)
- We call the doctrine of the Trinity a mystery because it is a truth we could never know by reason alone. In addition, it is something we can partially but will never fully grasp. “God alone can make [this] known to us by revealing himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” (CCC 261)
- We learn from the Incarnation of God the Son that God the Father and God the Son are “consubstantial.” This means that they are “one and the same God” (CCC 262). That is, they are the same substance or essence. And we learn from “the mission of the Holy Spirit” that “the Spirit is one and the same God,” too. (CCC 263).
- The three persons in God are all to be “adored and glorified,” as the Nicene Creed puts it. The Church terms this adoration latria, “the veneration due to God alone for his supreme excellence and to show people’s complete submission to him.” Latria is “given only to God, as the Trinity, or one of the Divine Persons, Christ as God and as man, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Holy Eucharist.”
- “By the grace of Baptism . . . we are called to share in the life of the Blessed Trinity, here on earth in the obscurity of faith, and after death in eternal light” (CCC 265).
- “Now this is the Catholic faith: We worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity, without either confusing the persons or dividing the substance; for the person of the Father is one, the Son’s is another, the Holy Spirit’s another; but the Godhead of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal” (Athanasian Creed, quoted in CCC 266).
- “Inseparable in what they are, the divine persons are also inseparable in what they do” (CCC 267). But within the single divine operation each shows forth what is proper to him in the Trinity, especially in the divine missions of the Son’s Incarnation and the gift of the Holy Spirit” (CCC 267).
- Thus the Son has redeemed us through his humanity and the Spirit gives us gifts.
Practical application: Living as children of God
- As exalted as our dignity is, we humbly accept we are God’s creatures and obey the natural law. Single Catholics don’t “hook up.” Married Catholics don’t contracept. God’s people don’t euthanize the elderly or the disabled or the handicapped.
- As adopted sons and daughters of God, we try to live, with the help of grace, as beloved children of God.
- In the liturgy, we offer fitting worship of the One God and each of the Three Persons. This is the worship of latria, “veneration due to God alone for his supreme excellence and to show [our] complete submission to him.”
- In our daily lives, we try to make ourselves sincere gifts to those around us. We do this by loving one another as Christ has first loved us.
Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline (1) provides insights into the Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.)
This outline is written to be in accord with the Homiletic Directory issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (2014). (To read an excellent summary of the Homiletic Directory, click here.)