Sunday, 7 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, one week after the Pentecost Sunday, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, or also known as the Trinity Sunday. On this day we celebrate this very important and crucial aspect of the Christian faith, one that distinguishes itself from all the other Abrahamic and monotheistic faith, because we believe in the One and only True God, Who manifested Himself in Three Divine Persons of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Since the very beginning of the Church, that is from the time of the Apostles, the Church had always believed in the Most Holy Trinity, through the truth that the Lord Himself had revealed to them, from the Father Who revealed to all and created all, and the Son, Who has descended into this world and revealed Himself in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, Whom the disciples had lived with, spoken with and interacted with, having seen His suffering and death on the Cross, and then His Resurrection and glorious Ascension into Heaven, and finally, the Holy Spirit Who came down upon them all on Pentecost.

The Church has always believed in the One and only True God in the Three Divine Persons, but for centuries, Church leaders and theologians debated and discussed the details of what this truly mean for the Lord Whom they all served. Unfortunately, there had been quite a view dissenting voices and ideas that came up from these disagreements over the nature of the Holy Trinity, which saw some rejecting the Holy Trinity altogether, or known as Unitarianism, a heresy that existed in different forms even to this very day.

Then there were also those like the Arians, who argued that the relationship between the members of the Most Holy Trinity is an unequal one, with the Father being superior over the Son, and the Son being subservient to the Father, as the Arians believed that the Son did not exist together with the Father from the very beginning, but rather, was merely the first to be created by the Father, and therefore, is inferior in nature to the Father. All of these false teachings came about from misunderstanding in the words of the Scripture which the Arians claimed as support for their argument, without understanding the whole truth.

Then there were also those who claimed that the Holy Spirit was also inferior, or was merely an ‘energy’ and not a Divine Person, essentially limiting the Persona into the duality of the Father and the Son. All of these were also rejected by the Ecumenical Councils of the Church, which prevailed over the heresies mentioned, and the Church fathers, after an often bitter and long struggle, managed to defend the true, orthodox and genuine Christian faith as we have it today, the faith of the Apostles themselves.

St. Athanasius the Great, the Patriarch of Alexandria in the fourth century in particular was renowned for his steadfast defence of the true faith against the encroachment of heresies, especially that of Arianism, which at that time were especially prevalent and had many support from many among the clergy, even many among the bishops. But the impassioned defence of the true faith from the faithful bishops and priests, led by St. Athanasius helped to turn the tide of battle against the heretical ideas.

St. Athanasius himself encountered plenty of difficulties and challenges throughout his ministry, having to go into exile a few times and facing opposition not only from the rebellious and heretical bishops and priests in his See and beyond, but even from the secular nobility, the powerful and at times, even the Emperors at Constantinople themselves. Yet, he remained resolute and firm, dedicated and faithful in his struggle to keep the truth and orthodoxy in the Christian faith, writing one of his famous contributions to the Church, the Athanasian Creed, in full support of the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Although some argued that he was not the actual author of the Creed, but the ideas contained within the Creed speak volumes of the ideas of St. Athanasius, which is why he was credited with the origin of this venerable Creed.

I am sure all of us are familiar with the Nicene or the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, as well as the Apostles’ Creed. Yet, definitely there are only a few of us who may be aware of what the Athanasian Creed is, less still being able to recite it with faith. For this Athanasian Creed itself is much longer and a lot more detailed even compared to the Nicene Creed, containing the basic essence of the Creed, but with special and really particular emphasis on the Trinitarian nature of our Christian faith, stressing and emphasising the relationship between each members of the Holy Trinity to each other.

As the Athanasian Creed has it, the Holy Trinity is described as, ‘And the Catholic faith is this: that we worship One God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Essence.’ And this part emphasises how there is only One God, and yet, the same One God exists in the form of Trinity of Unity, where each of the members of the Holy Trinity are distinct from one another, but yet equal to each other, and are perfectly united in Essence that they are at the same time, indivisible, for removing even one will diminish that Oneness of God.

And then it continues with ‘For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all One; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal.’ And this part show us yet again the Unity between the Three Divine Persons of the Most Holy Trinity, which are also at the same time, easily distinguished one from the other without confusion, each with equal Glory and Majesty, and all Co-Eternal with each other, from before the beginning of time, through all time, to the end of time and forevermore.

The Creed keeps on going, repeating several times with very strong and firm affirmation that each of the members of the Holy Trinity are the same One God, equally God, none superior or inferior over the other, ‘the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God’ and ‘And yet They are not three Gods but One God’. And the relationship between each of the members of the Holy Trinity is explained clearly in that same Creed, as the Son is begotten by the Father, not created and co-eternal with Him, showing how the Son already existed from the very beginning, and the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father through the Son.

That last portion regarding the Holy Spirit had also divided Christianity even until this very day, as our brethren in the Orthodox Communion refused to accept the fact of this ‘proceeding’ of the Holy Spirit through the Son from the Father. This they argued because of the misunderstanding in the language and the fine differences in the literary understanding of the word ‘proceeding’. Historically, in the Greek language, the word ‘proceeding’ showed a clear subordinate relationship between the one that proceeded to the one it is proceeding from. Yet, no such subordination existed in the Latin language.

Thus, we, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church has always believed in the Holy Spirit that came to us from the Father, and proceeded through the Son, Jesus Christ, all being co-equal and co-eternal with each other, none being subordinate or superior over the other, the Holy Spirit merely passed through the Son to us, in the same manner the Lord Jesus breathed over His disciples and said ‘Receive the Holy Spirit, whomever sins you forgive, they are forgiven, and whomever sins you retain, they are retained.’

Brothers and sisters in Christ, such was the deep mystery and detail in the very nature of our God, One and yet existing in Three Divine Persons, distinct, co-equal and co-eternal with each other, that there had been many misunderstandings both from within the Church itself, and from those who were outside the Church. There had been many who mistakenly accused Christians as polytheists and worshipping three Gods instead of One, but this is because they did not understand what it means by the Holy Trinity. How about us, brothers and sisters in Christ? Have we ourselves understood the meaning and importance of the Most Holy Trinity?

One way to understand the concept of the Holy Trinity, its presence of three easily distinguishable aspects and yet unquestionable unity is by using the example of a burning flame. A burning flame has three important aspects that can be easily distinguished, namely the appearance and state of the flame itself, and then the heat generated by the flame, and finally the light given out by the flame. For all of us, I am sure we know that while each of these stimulates different parts of our senses, but we know that we cannot separate each aspect of the flame from the other.

What does this mean? It means that, if we remove the light of the flame, then we can no longer recognise the flame as it is. Similarly, if we see a flame and we can see its shape and the state of the flame, and yet feel no heat, it is no longer a flame as we know it. And then, if we can feel the state of the flame, that is because of the excited particles of the air heated up and filled with energy, and feel its heat, and yet, if the flame emits no light, then how can we believe that it is flame and not something else?

Another good example to compare this concept of the Holy Trinity, is that of honey, as honey is the product of bees collecting the various flowers’ nectar, which they mixed with their own secretions to create the ever-healthy and good honey, provided that it is naturally obtained and produced. In natural honey, we know that it is honey when we touch it, feel its viscosity and particular texture, and then taste its sweetness and unique, floral taste, and finally, smell its similarly floral and nice, unique smell. Each of these aspects help us to identify that this substance is honey and not something different.

Imagine if we have what is allegedly natural honey, and yet, when we touch, it feels so diluted and runny, so as to look like merely water? Will we believe if people told us that this is natural honey? Certainly not. Similarly, if we have what is allegedly natural honey, correct by feel and touch, having the right viscosity, and yet, tastes very differently or even taste horrible? And honey can also be fermented into alcohol under the right condition, and in that case, it is no longer honey, but mead! Lastly, in a similar way, if we have what is allegedly natural honey, and yet it smells very different, although it feels like honey and tastes like honey, then it is not honey.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, using these examples of the flame and honey, we can see how the concept of the Holy Trinity is not as difficult as it may seem to us to understand. Of course, being one of the most profound mysteries out there, there are still a lot about the Holy Trinity that we may not fully understand, but at least, a basic understanding of its concept is very important for us all as Christians to have strong and genuine faith in God. And often, it does not need to be very complicated and difficult to do so.

Historically, St. Patrick was also well-known for using the iconic three-leaf clover as the symbol of the Holy Trinity, teaching the concept to the pagans there about God, One in Unity and yet existing in Three Divine Persons. The united nature of the three-leaf clover’s three leaves makes it such that separating one of the leaf from the three-leaf clover makes it no longer a three-leaf clover, much like taking out the heat of the flame no longer make it recognisable as flame, or removing the taste from honey which makes it no longer recognisable as honey.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we celebrate this Trinity Sunday, let us all carefully study and understand the basics of the concept of the Holy Trinity, that we may understand and appreciate better what our Christian faith is all about, and Who our God truly is. Let us all renew our faith and conviction in serving Him, loving Him and when possible, share the truth about His Holy Trinity to others. Whenever there is confusion and misinformation, hopefully we ourselves can stand up for our faith, explaining briefly to dispel the misconception, perhaps by using the example of the ‘flame’, ‘honey’ or even St. Patrick’s three-leaf clover mentioned earlier.

Let us all renew our faith in the Lord, the Most Holy Trinity, in Whom we have been baptised, in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Let us be thankful and be appreciative of the love of the Father, be inspired and strengthened by the obedience of the Son, and be encouraged and filled with zeal by the power of the Holy Spirit. May all of us be genuine and strong Christians, in all aspects of life, now and always. Amen.

Sunday, 7 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 3 : 16-18

At that time, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Yes, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him may not be lost, but may have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world; instead, through Him the world is to be saved.”

“Whoever believes in Him will not be condemned. He who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the Name of the only Son of God.”

Sunday, 7 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

2 Corinthians 13 : 11-13

Finally, brothers and sisters, be happy, strive to be perfect, have courage, be of one mind and live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.

The grace of Christ Jesus the Lord, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Sunday, 7 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Daniel 3 : 52, 53, 54, 55, 56

Blessed are You, Lord, God of our fathers, be praised and exalted forever. Blessed is Your holy and glorious Name, celebrated and exalted forever.

Blessed are You in the Temple of Your sacred glory, Your praises are sung forever.

Blessed are You on the throne of Your kingdom, honoured and glorified forever.

Blessed are You Who fathom the depths, Who are enthroned on the Cherubim, praised and exalted forever.

Blessed are You in the firmament of heaven, praised and glorified forever.

Sunday, 7 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Exodus 34 : 4b-6, 8-9

Then Moses rose early in the morning and went up Mount Sinai as YHVH had commanded, taking in his hands the two slabs of stone. And YHVH came down in a cloud and stood there with him, and Moses called on the Name of YHVH.

Then YHVH passed in front of him and cried out, “YHVH, YHVH is a God full of pity and mercy, slow to anger and abounding in truth and loving-kindness.”

Moses hastened to bow down to the ground and worshipped. He then said, “If You really look kindly on me, my Lord, please come and walk in our midst and even though we are a stiff-necked people, pardon our wickedness and our sin and make us Yours.”

Sunday, 27 May 2018 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday after the Pentecost, we celebrate the great occasion of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity or Trinity Sunday. On this occasion, we commemorate one of the greatest mysteries of our faith, the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is what we believe in, and this is our Christian faith, and we believe in God, Who is One, but Who is also Three.

What does it mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? Does it mean that we believe in Three Gods? No, it is not. We as Christians believe in the one and only one True God, Who created heaven and earth, the Creator and Master and Lord of the whole universe and existence. This is our faith and this is what we truly believe in. We believe in one God Who exists in Three Divine Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Many people misunderstood and misrepresented our Christian faith as they failed to see the truth behind this mystery, or that they received the wrong information and misconception from others who also had the same misconception. They thought that Christians worship three Gods, and not one God. They thought that we have blasphemed against God, just as the Pharisees among the Jews charged against the early Christians.

The same Pharisees together with the chief priests were also angry at the Lord Jesus Himself, at several occasions in the Gospels, including at the moment when they condemned Him to death, because He claimed to be the Son of God, and to them, God has no Son, and thus, to them, the Lord Jesus had committed blasphemy and great sin against God. But that is because they failed to understand the truth and refused to believe.

There were also others who accused Christians of polytheism and blasphemy, for the same reason. And many of them refused or failed to listen to the truth. Unfortunately, there are also those among us who do not understand the truth and have the same misconception, thinking that we believe in three Gods, or three different Persons in Godhood, or else, do not understand the relationship between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us spend some time to go through the essentials of what is the Most Holy Trinity and why do we believe in this mystery of the Trinity. Indeed, as I have mentioned, being a mystery of our faith, we ourselves and the Church do not have the fullness of understanding of what the Trinity completely entails, but through the teachings of the Apostles and by the words of Our Lord Himself, by divine revelation and all, we have understanding of what the Trinity is.

First of all, as elaborately explained in the famous Creed written by St. Athanasius the Great, as Christians we believe in one God, and not in three Gods. Yet, we also believe in the Father, Who is distinct from the Son and from the Holy Spirit, and vice versa, as we believe in the Son, Who is distinct from the Father and from the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit Who is distinct from the Father and from the Son.

Thus, we believe in one Father, one Son and one Holy Spirit, Who together form the inseparable and yet distinct Union, which we know as the Most Holy Trinity. The common misunderstanding that we as Christians have is that God exist just as one Person, but having three different roles. No, brothers and sisters in Christ, the Trinity is composed of Three co-equal and co-eternal Persons, that are both distinct and yet united as One at the same time.

And for the proof of the existence of the Most Holy Trinity is present throughout the entire Scriptures, right from the very beginning of time, to the very end. In the book of Genesis, at the very first chapter, we saw the account of the creation of the world. In the beginning, there was nothing but God, and nothing was created before time began. And God existed since before time began, for He is eternal, and the Son and the Holy Spirit is equally eternal with God the Father, and not after Him.

This is another part, where heresies and wrong teachings have resulted in wickedness entering the Church and causing divisions among the faithful, as there were those who thought that the Son and the Holy Spirit are not equal to the Father, Whom they see as superior, or even as God that existed in the Old Testament, relating Him with God the Father alone. They proclaimed that the Son was a mere Creation, or was subservient to Him, and the Holy Spirit was explained in the same manner.

But these were wrong, brothers and sisters in Christ, and the truth has prevailed in the end. It is this same truth which I now impart upon you, as shared among us all Christians, believing in the Trinity of Godhood, Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. For you see, in the Book of Genesis, if we delve deeper into the words written as recorded in that account of creation, particularly on the creation of man, we will see how God Himself referred to Him as ‘We’ and ‘Us’.

As God created man, He said, ‘Let Us create man in Our image’. And Who are the ‘Us’ and ‘Our’ mentioned in that passage referring to? None other than the One God, in His Three Divine Persons, the Most Holy Trinity. Each of the members of the Trinity work together as One in the work of creation. For God willed the world and all creation into existence, as the Father’s will have it, and by His words, the Word of God, everything came to be.

In the Gospel of St. John, in the first chapter, we heard St. John writing, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’. And from there, he elaborated how the Word has ‘become incarnate into Flesh’ that is becoming Man. Through this, and through the teachings of the Church, we associate the Son with the Word of God, He Who has become incarnate through the Blessed Virgin Mary, His mother, that is Jesus Christ, Son of God.

How about the Holy Spirit, then? The Holy Spirit is in everything and is the Lord and the Giver of life, as we recite it every time we say the Nicene Creed. Through the Holy Spirit, we receive life, just as the Lord breathed life into us, made from mere dust at the beginning of time. Through that, the Holy Spirit entered into us, and gave us life. Through the Holy Spirit, God made the world, just as through the Son, the Word, everything came to be, by the will of the Father. The three members of the Holy Trinity working together, and in perfect harmony.

The Lord Jesus also repeated this act in the Gospels, as He appeared to them after His resurrection. He breathed onto them, symbolising the giving of the Holy Spirit upon them, Who descended upon them and rested on them on Pentecost. The Holy Spirit gave them strength and courage to preach the truth about God, the Most Holy Trinity, and through that, they carried out the mission which the Lord entrusted them with, as He said in our Gospel passage today.

‘Go forth and make disciples of all the nations, and baptise them in the Name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.’ This is the Great Commission, the great commandment which the Lord Jesus gave to all of us as Christians, who ourselves have been baptised in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Most Holy Trinity. We have been called to share this faith we have, and call all the people, to come and be baptised, and be sealed as the possessions of God, the Most Holy Trinity.

How do we do so, brothers and sisters in Christ? Should we go forth and preach with many words in the streets and calling people to listen to the truth spoken through us? No, that is not how we should do it. Indeed, we can convey the truth through words, but we will realise that often, our actions speak much louder than words alone. And in truth, many of us Christians do not act in the manner of what we have said.

We are often divided among ourselves, and we often treat others with contempt and hatred. But that is not what the Lord had shown us and told us to do. Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, the very reason why God created us, is because He loves each and every one of us. He loved all of His creations, and foremost among all that, is all of us, mankind, created in His own image.

God has no need for our love, for He Himself had perfect love in Him. We believe in God Who consists of Three Divine Persons united in perfect love to each other, the inseparable and indissoluble bond of love. God Himself is Love. And He showed us the same love which He has in Him, the love the Father has for the Son. And showed us that love by giving us His very own Son, that through Him, and through His act of perfect and selfless love on the cross, He can show us what it means for us to be Christians. And it is by this, that we call others to be believers just as we are.

It means that all of us must love one another, and show this love in every action we take and in every words we say. A Christian who does not love is not a true Christian, and we should not just love those who loved us, but even those whom we did not know before, and also those who even hated us and persecuted us. This is true Christian love, and if we now have a better understanding of the Most Holy Trinity, and the love that is in God, we too, should show the same love in our daily lives.

For in the end, all of us belong to the same Body of Christ, the Church, where all of us are united in Christ, through love, Christian love and the love which God has shown us. Therefore, we must love generously, and be merciful and forgiving in our actions and dealings with each other. Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us therefore, from now on, devote ourselves with a new commitment, to stay true to our faith in God, and to be loving, just as the Lord Himself is love, the Most Holy Trinity of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, by Whom everyone who believe are be saved. Amen.

Sunday, 27 May 2018 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 28 : 16-20

At that time, as for the eleven disciples, they went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw Jesus, they bowed before Him, although some doubted.

Then Jesus approached them and said, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples from all nations. Baptise them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all that I have commanded you. I am with you always even to the end of the world.”

Sunday, 27 May 2018 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Romans 8 : 14-17

All those who walk in the Spirit of God are sons and daughters of God. Then, no more fear : you did not receive a spirit of slavery, but the spirit that makes you sons and daughters, and every time, we cry, “Abba! (this means Dad!) Father!” the Spirit assures our spirit, that we are sons and daughters of God.

If we are children, we are heirs, too. Ours will be the inheritance of God, and we will share it with Christ; for, if we now suffer with Him, we will also share glory with Him.

Sunday, 27 May 2018 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 32 : 4-5, 6 and 9, 18-19, 20 and 22

For upright is YHVH’s word and worthy of trust in His work. YHVH loves justice and righteousness; the earth is full of His kindness.

The heavens were created by His word, the breath of His mouth formed their starry host. For He spoke and so it was, He commanded, and everything stood firm.

But YHVH’s eyes are upon those who fear Him, upon those who trust in His loving kindness; to deliver them from death and preserve them from famine.

In hope, we wait for YHVH, for He is our help and our shield. O YHVH, let Your love rest upon us, even as our hope rests in You.

Sunday, 27 May 2018 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Deuteronomy 4 : 32-34, 39-40

Ask of the times past. Inquire from the day when God created man on earth. Ask from one end of the world to the other : Has there ever been anything as extraordinary as this? Has anything like this been heard of before? Has there ever been a people who remained alive after hearing as you did the voice of the living God from the midst of the fire?

Never has there been a God Who went out to look for a people and take them out from among the other nations by the strength of trials and signs, by wonders and by war, with a firm hand and an outstretched arm. Never has there been any deed as tremendous as those done for you by YHVH in Egypt, which you saw with your own eyes.

Therefore, try to be convinced that YHVH is the only God of heaven and earth, and that there is no other. Observe the laws and the commandments that I command you today, and everything will be well with you and your children after you. So you will live long in the land which YHVH, your God, gives you forever.