Sunday, June 19, 2011

On the Worship of the Trinity

Last Sunday we said that the coming of the Holy Spirit brought to perfection the work of salvation. Looking back at Pentecost, we realize that the appearance of the Holy Spirit as tongues of fire which rested upon the apostles was the revelation of the “Spirit of Truth whom the world neither sees nor recognizes.” Now that He has appeared, the Holy Spirit crowns the self-revelation of the true God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The existence of God is a truth that is accessible to human reason. The 5 ways of St. Thomas Aquinas prove the point that by observing the world around us, we can prove that there is a God. But the identity of the true God cannot be accessed by human reason except by way of Divine Revelation. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “‘The Trinity is 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.’ To be sure, God has left traces of his Trinitarian being in his work of creation and in his Revelation throughout the Old Testament. But the inmost Being as Holy Trinity is a mystery that is inaccessible to reason alone or even to Israel’s faith before the Incarnation of God’s Son and the sending of the Holy Spirit.” (CCC, 237.)

It is necessary to know the True God because it is so easy for us to be deceived by posers and pretenders and be led to idolatry. The Holy Father warns us of the danger of “yielding to the seduction of idolatry -- a continual temptation for the believer -- by fooling (ourselves) itself into thinking (we) it could ‘serve two masters’ (cf. Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13) and ease the impenetrable ways of faith in the Almighty by also placing (our) its trust in a powerless god fashioned by man.” (Benedict XVI, Wednesday Audience, 15 June 2011.) And many of us prefer to worship idols than the true God. Why? It is because idols can be manipulated. Like the priests of Baal, idol worshippers “turn to themselves in order to approach their god, relying on their own abilities to bring about a response.” (ibid.) Idol worshippers think that if they chanted the right words, or concentrated hard enough, or did drastic things, they could manipulate the forces of the universe to their advantage.

But the true God is not some dead idol whose will we can bend to ours. He is a God who has his own will, one who loves in a very personal way: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” This very famous verse shows us the Trinity: the Father who sends, the Son who is given, and the Holy Spirit who is Love. This true God wills nothing but our salvation: “so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” He wants to save us from the slavery of idolatry. Idols do not have the same good will because they are lifeless and powerless fabrications of the human imagination. Lifeless gods cannot save. Only the Trinity, the true God, can give eternal life.

When we adore the true God, we do not manipulate him. Because he is a living God, he has his own will. We do not and cannot make him bend his will. Rather, “the primary end of prayer is conversion: the fire of God transforms our hearts and makes us capable of seeing God, of living according to God and of living for the other.” (Ibid.) St. Paul said to the Corinthians: “Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.” We are the ones who should mend our ways. We must turn away from our idolatries and allow the fire of God’s love to burn, purify and transform us into authentic worshippers – worshippers in Spirit and in truth.

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