The Most Holy Trinity [A]
Exodus 34:4-6,8-9 + 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 + John 3:16-18
June 11, 2017
“‘The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.’”
A well-written biography fascinates. The narrative of a subject’s life—the events surrounding the person and also the events which the person initiates—capture our imagination because the person’s choices are windows into the person’s inner life: the person’s mind, heart and soul.
Something similar is true regarding the Most Blessed Trinity. Theologians describe the Trinity with two different terms. One is called the “economic Trinity”. The word “economic” refers not to money, but more generally to works performed, as in the phrase “home economics”. So the “economic Trinity” is the Blessed Trinity described in terms of works performed “outside” the Trinity. In other words, the “economy” of the Trinity is those works that the Trinity never had to carry out, but nevertheless freely chose to carry out, simply out of love. These works chiefly fall into two groups: creation and salvation. The former concerns everything in the universe, visible and invisible. The latter solely concerns mankind.
The Blessed Trinity’s works of creation and salvation both serve as windows into the inner life of the Trinity. This inner life is called the “immanent Trinity.” This inner life of God is the very essence of the Trinity. While the works of the “economic Trinity” are “exterior” to God, and therefore could possibly not have been done, the “immanent Trinity” is God’s essential Being in eternity: as He was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.
On this Sunday’s solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, we can reflect on God’s works of creation and salvation as a way to peer into His inner life as the Trinity.
The beauty of creation inspires poets and mountain climbers, biologists and physicists to see the works of creation in a transcendent way. In other words, the beauty of the works of creation point our attention to “where” they came from. For believers, this reflective act of transcendence leads beyond the works, and also beyond the “how” of creation, all the way back to God.
Chief among the visible works of God’s creation is the human being. It’s little wonder that first-time parents draw closer to God as they stand in awe at the innocence, beauty and dignity of a single, tiny human life. The greatest teachers of the Catholic Faith have reflected on how man—male and female—is created in the image of God. This image is seen through the ways in which man’s intellect and will operate. This image points to the three divine Persons of the Trinity.
The beauty of God’s work in saving fallen man also gives us a window into the life of the Trinity. Although there are only a few, enigmatic hints of the Trinity in the narratives of Old Testament history, in the fullness of time God revealed Himself as a Trinity of Persons when He established His new and everlasting Covenant through the Sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. Throughout the narrative of your own life, as you enter into Mass more fully, and live more fully from the fruits of the Mass during your week, the divine work of Father, Son and Holy Spirit will animate your own heart, mind and soul.