Several requests have been received for a copy of today’s homily. I generally don’t post my homilies on-line, because they’re intended to be for a particular moment. When listening at Mass, the experience of a homily is quite different to reading a text book or listening to a lecture. Nevertheless, because of the requests, please find today’s homily below. It comes with a caveat though: it is not a text book excerpt and was not written to be studied, it was written as my notes to help me preach, so is not an exact reflection of what I said at Mass. I’ve tried to tidy it up a bit to make it easier to understand; I hope you find it helpful.
The Father is not the Son. The Son is not the Spirit. The Spirit is not the Father nor the Son.
The Father generates the Son in an act of the intellect, brought about by God’s never-ending thinking about himself. Let me explain: The Father, in thinking about himself, sees the Son who is God and is therefore: “God from God”. There was never a time when the Father didn’t have the Son, because the Father is always thinking.
The Son is God and the Father is God, because they are of the same substance. They are consubstantial.The Father, generating the Son, is called a Procession; so we say “the Son proceeds from the Father”.
The Holy Spirit is the bond of the Father and Son, and proceeds from them both as an act of their one single will: as an act of Love. The Father and the Son, in loving themselves in each other, give rise to the Holy Spirit.
There was never a time when the Father and the Son didn’t have the Spirit, because the Father and Son are always loving. And so the Spirit too is God. The Spirit proceeds from the both the Father and the Son. The Spirit is God, just as the Father and Son are God.
The Son proceeds from the Father alone as an act of generation (as an act of thinking). The Spirit does not proceed from the Father alone – otherwise God would have two Sons. And if God had two sons then the Holy Spirit would be identical to the Son. But the Holy Spirit is not Jesus Christ! The Holy Spirit and the Son are distinct.
The Son of God proceeds from an act of the Father’s intellect: God thinking. Therefore, the Son could be called the Wisdom of God. God thinking about himself generates the Son.
The Holy Spirit of God proceeds from an act of the will: God loving. Therefore the Spirit could be called the Love of God. Together, God the Father and God the Son, loving, give rise to the Holy Spirit. This proceeding from them both has a special name. It’s called a Spiration.
The Father Generates the Son,
The Son Proceeds from the Father
The Spirit Proceeds from the Father and the Son as a Spiration.
And the Father is God.
And the Son is God.
And the Sprit is God.
And there is only one God.
The God who is, the God who was and the God who will be, are one God. And God is simple and undivided in substance, but always existing in three persons. What I have said to you I understand (although it took me many weeks!) I know it – but I don’t comprehend it. No one can fully comprehend it; not even the great saints can fully comprehend it. For example, St Augustine.
St Augustine was walking one day along the beach and he saw a small boy dig a hole. The boy picked up a shell and walked down the beach to the ocean, where he scooped up some water. He took the water, walked back u the beach and poured the water into the hole. Then he did the same thing again and again. St Augustine asked the boy “What are you doing?” “Well sir”, the boy replied, “I’m moving the ocean from here to there.” “But that’ll take forever” said Augustine. “Yes I know. But by the time I’ve finished, you won’t even have begun to fathom the depths of the Trinity” And with that the boy – a vision – vanished, leaving St Augustine alone with his prayers and the contemplation of the Trinity.
Each one of us, from young children who are learning how to make the sign of the cross, all the way up to adults who can read about philosophy and theology, can come to learn more and more about the Trinity; about the three persons of God who are one God. And we can grow in wisdom, …but we will never fully comprehend it.
There are people who know much more than me. And people who know less than me. But we all can all comprehend that we will never fully comprehend. And so on that level, we’re all the same: Your Faith in the Trinity is the same as my Faith in the Trinity, because both of us share in the Trinitarian faith of the Church.
God the Father is God.
God the Son is God.
God the Holy Spirit is God.
God is one and God is three.
You are blessed Lord God of our Fathers. You are blessed in the Firmament of Heaven. To you glory and praise forever more! Amen.