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, 16 June 2019 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday after the Solemnity of the Pentecost, the Universal Church again celebrates another great and very important Solemnity, one that is concerning the very centre tenet and distinctiveness of our Christian faith that is the belief in God Who exists in Three Divine Persons and yet, at the same time, is also One and Indivisible. And that is why on this Sunday, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.

On this day, we focus our attention on Who we worship, God Who is ever loving, merciful and compassionate towards us, He Who is One, and only One, but existing in Three distinct Persons, namely the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The true nature of the Most Holy Trinity has eluded many people and many among us the faithful throughout time, but all of us must realise and know Who is Our Lord Whom we worship, so that we can better appreciate our faith in Him.

We do not believe in three different Gods, as the most common misconception about the Most Holy Trinity is often about. We believe that even though there is distinction between God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, but they exist in perfect unity and harmony with each other, as the one and only True God. Three Divine Persons but One Unity in One Godhood. That is what the Most Holy Trinity is about.

Yet, throughout the history of the Church, particularly during the early days of Christianity, people constantly were conflicted on the nature of their God, and there had been many divisions, conflicts, disagreements and bitterness over the nature of the Most Holy Trinity, the relationship that the Father has the Son, and with the Holy Spirit, and the nature of the Son Himself, the relationship that He has with the Father, and also with the Holy Spirit.

And there were those who doubted and questioned the divinity of the Son in particular, those who doubted that Jesus Christ Our Lord is God as well as Man in the same person. And there were those, like the Arians, who considered Christ as being lesser than the Father. They regarded Him as a Being Who was created and therefore not equal with the Father, not co-eternal with Him. And therefore, they did not believe in the Most Holy Trinity in the way we believe today.

At that time, many people actually subscribed to the teachings and the faith of Arius, the one who propagated the Arian heresy. And there were bitter struggle for the belief of the faithful as those bishops and priests who remained true to the orthodox and genuine Christian teachings struggled with the many bishops and priests who embraced Arianism. And one of the most courageous and faithful defender of the true faith was St. Athanasius, the Patriarch of Alexandria, whose defence of the faith in the Most Holy Trinity and the equality between the Son and the Father is memorialised in the now famous Athanasian Creed.

The Athanasian Creed was an expansion of the usual Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed we have always used, in which the Athanasian Creed is a much more detailed and clearer version of the Creed where in particular, the nature of the Most Holy Trinity of God the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit is explained clearly and succinctly against the heresies of the time that tried to diminish the Holy Trinity or mislead the people with wrong ideas and thoughts about the Trinity.

In the first part of the Athanasian Creed, it is clearly mentioned that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three equal parts of the One Godhood of our one and only True God, avoiding the idea of worship of more than one god and at the same time, also stressing on the importance and distinctiveness of each of the three members of the Most Holy Trinity. The Father is not the same as the Son, and the Son is not the same as the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not the same as the Father, and yet all three are united perfectly and indivisibly as one indissoluble union of perfect love.

And being equal, the Son and the Holy Spirit are not submitted to the Father or less equal from the Father in anything, neither created nor made. The Son of God, Our Lord Jesus Christ, has existed with the Father from the very beginning, from before the beginning of time, co-equal, co-eternal and equally omnipotent and Almighty. He is not created but rather begotten from the Father, remaining distinct and yet inseparable from the Father and the Holy Spirit. He assumed the appearance and flesh of man, uniting in Himself, the Divinity of the Son of God and the humanity of the Son of Man.

The Holy Spirit meanwhile is also co-equal, co-eternal and omnipotent as well as Almighty as the Father and the Son is. He is not created by the Father either, nor is subservient or created or begotten from the Father or from the Son. Rather in this case, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son, equal in all things, and is God’s Spirit that is in all things and performs His works in all things.

Many have tried to explain the concept of the Most Holy Trinity, with St. Patrick of Ireland being the most prominent one. St. Patrick made use of the three-leaf shamrock as a way for him to explain the Trinity of Christian God to the pagans then living in the land that is now called Ireland. He used the three-leaf shamrock, now closely associated with St. Patrick himself, as the representation of the Most Holy Trinity, as if any of the three leaves is taken out, the whole shamrock becomes incomplete.

Therefore, just as a person can clearly distinguish each of the three leaves of the three-leaf shamrock, we can distinguish between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit clearly. But at the same time, they are also perfectly united as One, just as the three-leaf shamrock is part of the one whole shamrock leaf, which if any of the parts are taken out, the whole shamrock becomes incomplete just as the Most Holy Trinity is not complete without any one of its members.

Another way for us to try to explain the concept of the Most Holy Trinity is that of a lighted candle. A lighted candle has three main important properties, that is the light produced by the candle, the heat produced by the candle and the flame produced by the candle burning. All these three cannot be separated from each other and yet they are also easily distinguishable from each other.

The candle cannot have light without the burning flame, and without the flame there can be no heat either. And neither can there be flame without heat to make the candle burn in the first place, and with heat energy comes light that is produced by the heat of the reactions of the burning of the candle wax. And lastly, without light, it does not make sense for a candle that is burning to have no light, as flame always produces light and heat.

We can see from this example alone, how flame, light and heat are easily distinguishable from each other, as the light is clearly different from the heat, and flame itself is distinct from the light. The flame has a limited shape but the light illuminates the entire room far beyond the physical reach of the burning flame, and the heat can be felt on our bodies when we stand nearby the burning candle. Yet, each one of them cannot be separated from the other, or else we would not have a burning candle.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, having listened to what the Most Holy Trinity is all about, and how we try to explain this concept both to ourselves and to others, now that we have probably greater understanding and grasp of this concept, we must then also be aware of the significance of the Most Holy Trinity of Our God to ourselves as Christians. We must first and foremost remember that as Christians we are called to model ourselves on God Whom we believe in.

If Our God exists in a perfect love and harmony in the Most Holy Trinity of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, then surely our Christian communities must also have this same love within us, that in the Church of God to which we belong to, we must be united in love and not being divided one against the other. And each and every one of us, just like the members of the Holy Trinity, are unique and have our own distinctiveness that we can bring in to enrich the good works and wonders of the Church of God.

Are we able to practice what we believe in the nature of our loving Triune God, the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit in our own lives? Are we able to imitate the loving examples and unity of the Three Divine Persons in our own Christian communities united in love and harmony with each other? This is how we as Christians reflect God in our own lives, in showing the same love that He has within Himself, which He has shared with us and now, we share with one another.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all renew our faith, commitment and devotion to Our God, the Most Holy Trinity of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Let us all be witnesses of our faith in Him, in each and every moments we live, in our every actions so that all the people around us may see our faith and come to believe in God, the Most Holy Trinity as well, fulfilling what He has commanded us all to do, to make disciples of all people of all the nations and baptise them in the Name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

Let us glorify our God, the Most Holy Trinity once more, with the prayer “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.”

Sunday, 16 June 2019 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 16 : 12-15

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “I still have many things to tell you, but you cannot bear them now. When He, the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into the whole truth. He has nothing to say of Himself, but He will speak of what He hears, and He will tell you of the things to come.”

“He will take what is Mine and make it known to you; in doing this, He will glorify Me. All that the Father has is Mine; because of this, I have just told you that the Spirit will take what is Mine, and make it known to you.”

Sunday, 16 June 2019 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Romans 5 : 1-5

By faith, we have received true righteousness, and we are at peace with God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Through Him, we obtain this favour, in which we remain, and we even boast to expect the glory of God.

Not only that, we also boast even in trials, knowing that trials produce patience, from patience comes merit; merit is the source of hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because the Holy Spirit has been given to us, pouring into our hearts the love of God.

Sunday, 16 June 2019 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 8 : 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

When I observe the heavens, the work of Your hands, the moon and the stars You set in their place – what is man that You be mindful of him, the Son of Man that You should care for Him?

Yet You made Him a little lower than the Angels; You crowned Him with glory and honour and gave Him the works of Your hands; You have put all things under His feet.

Sheep and oxen without number and even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, the fish of the sea and all that swim the paths of the ocean.

Sunday, 16 June 2019 : Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Trinity Sunday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Proverbs 8 : 22-31

YHVH created Me first, at the beginning of His works. He formed Me from of old, from eternity, even before the earth. The abyss did not exist when I was born, the springs of the sea had not gushed forth, the mountains were still not set in their place nor the hills, when I was born before He made the earth or countryside, or the first grains of the world’s dust.

I was there when He made the skies and drew the earth’s compass on the abyss, when He formed the clouds above and when the springs of the ocean emerged; when He made the sea with its limits, that it might not overflow. When He laid the foundations of the earth, I was close beside Him, the designer of His works, and I was His daily delight, forever playing in His presence, playing throughout the world and delighting to be with humans.