Father Koch: The Meaning of the Trinity is Manifest in the Life of the Church

May 23, 2024 at 3:20 p.m.


Gospel reflection for May 26, 2024, The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

In his Angelus Address on Holy Trinity Sunday in 2010, Pope Benedict XVI reflected that: “The human mind and language are inadequate to explain the relationship that exists between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; yet the Fathers of the Church sought to illustrate the mystery of the Triune God by living it with deep faith in their own lives.”

From the very beginning of the church, the attempt to understand the nature of God given the mystery of the Incarnation as present in the person of Jesus Christ, took on a paramount significance. Jesus could not be understood merely as one of the god-men myths predominant in the religious practices of the rest of the ancient world. At the same time, Jesus and the Holy Spirit each had to be understood within the framework of the Oneness of God as known through the revelation of God to Abraham, Moses, and the prophets. This required new modes of thinking, new categories of understanding, and a new vocabulary for expression.

Prior to the sophistication of dogmatic formularies and credal statements is the felt expression of the faith of the church itself. The apostles knew Jesus personally and yet they understood him to be kurios, the very expression of God. They were present in that unique moment when the Holy Spirit overtook them as they were assembled during the feast of Pentecost. They experienced the power of Jesu as he healed the sick, and even raised the dead to life. They experienced the power of the Holy Spirit and saw within themselves the transformative power of that same Spirit. Now they, like Jesus, performed miracles and boldly proclaimed the kingdom of God to the world. They testified, even to the point of their own torture and martyrdom, that Jesus was indeed raised from the dead, ascended to Heaven, and seated at the Right Hand of the Father.

The early church heeded the call of Jesus to go forth and to baptize all people in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

While there were many attempts to explain the nature of God and the specific nature of Jesus as both a human being and a divine being, most of those early efforts failed to adequately serve the church. Yet, neither undaunted nor dissuaded, the church continued to reflect and discern until the language and the nuances of belief were just right.

The church grappled for the better part of four centuries until at Nicaea (325) a clear definition was established. One might ask why God did not simply infuse this knowledge, or why Jesus did not just give the formularies himself. Yet we learn that the faith experience becomes more real and more powerful when it happens organically. This is true certainly for individuals on their faith journey. Often one needs to walk away from the faith in order to return and own it on a deeper and more personal level. The same is true for the church. It took much reflection, many struggles, even conflict within the church to come to know God truly as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Perhaps it is indeed the life of the martyrs, the Fathers of the Church, and the ordinary reflections of faithful Christians, that is the greatest testimony to the reality and meaning of the Blessed Trinity.



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Gospel reflection for May 26, 2024, The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

In his Angelus Address on Holy Trinity Sunday in 2010, Pope Benedict XVI reflected that: “The human mind and language are inadequate to explain the relationship that exists between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; yet the Fathers of the Church sought to illustrate the mystery of the Triune God by living it with deep faith in their own lives.”

From the very beginning of the church, the attempt to understand the nature of God given the mystery of the Incarnation as present in the person of Jesus Christ, took on a paramount significance. Jesus could not be understood merely as one of the god-men myths predominant in the religious practices of the rest of the ancient world. At the same time, Jesus and the Holy Spirit each had to be understood within the framework of the Oneness of God as known through the revelation of God to Abraham, Moses, and the prophets. This required new modes of thinking, new categories of understanding, and a new vocabulary for expression.

Prior to the sophistication of dogmatic formularies and credal statements is the felt expression of the faith of the church itself. The apostles knew Jesus personally and yet they understood him to be kurios, the very expression of God. They were present in that unique moment when the Holy Spirit overtook them as they were assembled during the feast of Pentecost. They experienced the power of Jesu as he healed the sick, and even raised the dead to life. They experienced the power of the Holy Spirit and saw within themselves the transformative power of that same Spirit. Now they, like Jesus, performed miracles and boldly proclaimed the kingdom of God to the world. They testified, even to the point of their own torture and martyrdom, that Jesus was indeed raised from the dead, ascended to Heaven, and seated at the Right Hand of the Father.

The early church heeded the call of Jesus to go forth and to baptize all people in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

While there were many attempts to explain the nature of God and the specific nature of Jesus as both a human being and a divine being, most of those early efforts failed to adequately serve the church. Yet, neither undaunted nor dissuaded, the church continued to reflect and discern until the language and the nuances of belief were just right.

The church grappled for the better part of four centuries until at Nicaea (325) a clear definition was established. One might ask why God did not simply infuse this knowledge, or why Jesus did not just give the formularies himself. Yet we learn that the faith experience becomes more real and more powerful when it happens organically. This is true certainly for individuals on their faith journey. Often one needs to walk away from the faith in order to return and own it on a deeper and more personal level. The same is true for the church. It took much reflection, many struggles, even conflict within the church to come to know God truly as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Perhaps it is indeed the life of the martyrs, the Fathers of the Church, and the ordinary reflections of faithful Christians, that is the greatest testimony to the reality and meaning of the Blessed Trinity.


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