Fr Michael O'Shea
The Catechism calls the teaching about the Trinity “the most fundamental and essential teaching in the ‘hierarchy of the truths of the faith’”. It speaks of the Trinity “as a mystery of faith in the strict sense, one of the mysteries that are hidden in God, which can never be known unless they are revealed by God.” Reason alone cannot access this reality. It is only following the Incarnation, and the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, that the door was opened to this mystery.
The Catechism says God has left traces of his Trinitarian being in his work of creation and in his revelation throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. The Book of Genesis teaches us that the human is created in God’s image. The human consists of the male and the female. Plurality is expressed in the human. When the male and female combine and conceive, we have expression of the three in the human. The human family mirrors the nature of God.
In the Pauline letters, written before any of the Gospels, and therefore reflecting the earliest Christian teaching and understanding, we encounter the beautiful salutation: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all”. It is an exquisite way of introducing the Eucharistic liturgy, and it unites us across time to the earliest Christians whom we hope to join in eternity. We rely on the Holy Spirit to enrich and deepen our understanding of this deepest of mysteries.
Our Gospel from Matthew today concludes with the instruction of the Risen Lord to the disciples to make disciples of all the nations in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. At our conception we come into existence in the image of God. At our Baptism we are privileged to become members of the Christian community. Our hope in eternity is that we share in the life of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. “The ultimate end of the whole divine economy is the entry of God’s creatures into the perfect unity of the Blessed Trinity” (Catechism)
When Christianity came to Ireland it had reached the ends of the earth. Patrick fulfilled the instruction of the Risen Lord. He baptised the Irish in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He writes: “My only prayer to God is that it may never happen that I should lose his people which he won for himself at the end of the earth.”
Huw Edwards, BBC newsreader, did a series of programmes on Christianity in Wales entitled “Bread of Heaven”. In his final programme he was conscious that almost all chapels in Wales are converted into apartments, offices, or storage spaces. He was aware that most Welsh people have no religious practice or belief. The remnant of their once flourishing religion is their love of choral singing. He made the comment that the Muslim and Jewish communities living in Wales keep the concept of Divinity alive in Wales. Here in Ireland, St Patrick’s poignant prayer for the Irish is being put to the test.
Those who keep Christianity alive in the community by celebrating the Eucharist regularly perform a very special task.
“Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.”