Trinity Sunday celebrates the inner life of God the Father, Son and Spirit

Father John A. Kiley

Preachers, and often Church teachings and perhaps even the Scriptures sometimes divide the activity of the Holy Trinity into three convenient categories: God the Father is the creator; God the Son is the Redeemer; and God the Holy Spirit is the sanctifier. The mighty work of establishing the heavens and the earth along with the miracles of nature in the Jewish Scriptures certainly testify to the Father’s work of creation. The Son’s taking flesh and atoning for the sins of mankind through his own bodily suffering readily seal his designation as savior. And the perennial descent of the Holy Spirit into the souls of mankind through the initial waters of Baptism until the final anointing before death confirms his Divine task of turning every believer into a saint.
On this Trinity Sunday the Christian world rightly celebrates God’s triple manifestations of his eternal love not only in history but in everyday life. God the Father daily continues to create through every human person conceived in the womb. God the Son daily continues to redeem as sinners are brought to repentance by the example and sufferings of Christ. And God the Holy Spirit continues to sanctify through the sacred liturgies, private prayers and good works offered daily throughout the believing world.
Worshipers on this Trinity Sunday will do well also to recall that mankind, each one of us, is made in the image and likeness of God so that God’s triple responsibilities, his threefold ministrations, ought to be evident in the life of every believer. Mankind shares in God’s work of creation when men and women first of all respect life in all its manifestations. Male and female human beings must respect their Divinely created physical bodies and sexual capacities as intended by God. Couples should bring children into this world only in the most responsible manner, in an enduring bond of mutual love and respect. Children conceived under any circumstance must be accorded every human right, especially the right to life. The elderly, handicapped, and disadvantaged are all equally God’s creation and deserve every consideration. The broader creation also merits respect as a gift designed by God for His glory and for humanity’s enrichment. Recycling paper bags and soda cans is not mankind’s gravest responsibility but it is not an idle practice either.
The believing world especially is summoned to maintain the expiating and rescuing ministry of Christ as Savior and Redeemer. The salvific death and resurrection of Jesus Christ achieved every saving grace available to the human race in every age. There is no adding to the efforts of Christ. But the Christian community has always appreciated that Christ’s redeeming graces can be more widely dispensed and more effectively shared through the intercessory prayers and atoning good works of the faithful. St. Paul, in writing to the Colossians (1:24), clearly expresses his belief and the constant belief of the Church that embracing life’s challenges is never wasted: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church.” Enduring the trials of this world certainly do not add to the work of Christ. Rather they take advantage of the work of Christ, bringing down his strengthening graces on a still sinful world.
When Christ bid goodbye to his gathered disciples in Galilee, he specifically and pointedly directed them to baptize and to teach: “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.” The believer can certainly see in this fundamental statement the enduring ministrations of the Church which continue not only the work of Christ but more specifically the work of the Holy Spirit. The work of “baptizing” certainly contains the seed of the whole sacramental ministry of the Catholic Church. Baptism, penance, Eucharist, confirmation, orders, marriage and anointing powerfully and effectively realize the Spirit’s work of sanctification through the ages. These sacraments are graces freely bestowed by the Spirit through the ministry of the Church’s bishops, priests, deacons, catechists and ministers who continue the work of the Spirit through the ages. Christ’s instruction on “teaching” certainly extends the work of the Holy Spirit who enlightened the prophets, inspired the Scriptures, guided the Church Fathers, and today enlightens popes and prelates and priests and people who ponder the teachings of the Church. The Spirit is indeed “the power that works within us.” (Eph.3:20)
Trinity Sunday celebrates the inner life of God as Father, Son and Spirit. But this holy day also challenges mankind personally to live out the life of the Trinity in whose image they are made.