THE real problem with the Blessed Trinity celebrated at Mass today is not that it’s a baffling concept—God, who is one and unique in His infinite substance or nature, is really three distinct persons—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. More than straining our minds, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit might not touch our hearts much, if at all.
How many believers truly feel our Creator Father’s loving presence, His Son and our Brother’s merciful gaze, or the inner peace and promptings of the Holy Spirit, Who is the Love between the Father and the Son lifting the universe and our souls to heaven?
And that’s the problem, not failing to figure out the unfathomable mystery of the Triune God. After all, the first commandment from on high is to love God with our entire being, not to know Him inside out, in full and without error.
Many may be relieved that loving God is what’s required of us, not understanding His inscrutable mystery and boundless infinity. Yet that loving feeling toward Father, Son and Holy Spirit isn’t easier than figuring out the Triune God.
Feeling the Father
Feeling the Father should actually be easy. As Creator of all, His providence encompasses everything around us, not to mention every cell in our bodies and the souls inhabiting them. So if we truly believe that God made us and all that we love about life, we should at least feel gratitude and maybe even love for Him, right?
Well, when was the last time you thanked Mom and Dad for bringing you into this world and up to adulthood? Or gave them hugs and kisses for everything they showered upon and sacrificed for you? Maybe you did all that, but surprise, surprise, millions of people don’t anymore.
Nor do we feel anything special about the hired help and paid employees who serve and work with us? Rather than thanks and goodwill, what transpires between us and them is cold, calculated commerce.
If many of us can feel no thanks or caring toward the people we see, hear, and rub elbows with, then it’s even harder to feel that toward our unseen Father Who art all the way in heaven.
Instead of His providence, we credit our delights and comforts to the power of money, the talents of entertainers, and the advances of science and technology. We worship paychecks and profits, adore pop, movie and sports stars, and love our gadgets.
And our Maker comes to mind and heart often when things go bad. He is blamed for many a mishap, from slipping on a banana peel to Supertyphoon Haiyan. Much like how the successful say they are self-made, but the wayward claim to be victims of their parents’ genes and upbringing.
One more thing eroding the Father’s rapport with people are the commandments He enforces with fire, brimstone and hell. Those dos and don’ts are meant to bring us closer to Him and His true and lasting happiness, but most people clearly don’t see things that way.
Following the Son
If the Father doesn’t connect with many of us for being faraway, forgotten or fearsome, His Son Jesus has won mountains of adulation and endearment over the millennia. In our time, countless devotees spend hours every week adoring Him in the Blessed Sacrament, praying novenas to His Sacred Heart and Divine Mercy. And His life is extolled and expounded as the way to holiness.
Those zealous devotions follow Christ’s instruction to believe in Him as the Way, the Truth and the Life, leading to the Father in heaven. But if loving Christ stops there, then it misses His final command to us before He returned to His Father in heaven: “Love one another as I have loved you.”
The love Jesus wants is for us to follow His commandments, including that last one, and to serve Him in the poor and needy: “Whatever you do to these, the least of your brethren, you do to Me.”
So if we are to really love God the Son, then it must be through not only adoring and praying to Him in church and prayer room, but also in loving and serving Him in others, especially the neglected and marginalized of society.
Sadly, many Christians substitute the first kind of love for Christ for the second: pouring on the piety to make up for absent charity. Sorry, that doesn’t work for the Son.
Indeed, when we face Him in the Final Judgment, He will not ask us how many masses we’ve attended or communions we’ve received. Rather, He will divide the sheep from the goats because the former gave Him food and drink, clothed His nakedness, and did Him other acts of kindness through the needy, while the latter didn’t.
No two ways about it: If we love the Son, we must love and serve the least of us.
Kindling the Spirit
What makes many of us fail in loving the Holy Spirit is not lack of effort, but too much of it. For in the countless ways in which the Spirit made Himself known and felt, there really wasn’t much that the people He inspired needed to do, except to let it happen.
When Mary conceived the Son of God in the Incarnation, all she did was say yes, and the Spirit took care of the rest.
When Jesus gave His Apostles the Spirit at Easter, empowering them to forgive or retain sins, He breathed on them, and the Spirit was with them.
When the disciples were literally fired up by the Spirit at Pentecost, they were just still while the wind blew and the flaming tongues lit up their heads, giving them the grace to preach and be understood by every race.
So perhaps in feeling the Holy Spirit, what we need in stillness. The utter absence of noise and distraction, not just the kind ringing in our ears, but the sort that fills the mind, tempts the eye, snares the heart, and stirs the loins.
Shut out the world and the self, and the Blessed Trinity will appear and touch us. Amen.