Wednesday May 19, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Sixth Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 17:15, 22-18:1) Gospel (St. John 16:12-15)
In the Gospel reading today, as Our Lord speaks to us once again about the Holy Spirit Who is going to be given to His apostles and Who has indeed been given to each of us, we have also a clear reference to the Holy Trinity. We are told in yesterday’s Gospel that the Holy Spirit is from the Father. In fact, the word that is used there is that the Holy Spirit “proceeds” from the Father. Jesus uses the exact same word regarding Himself when He says, I proceeded from the Father. That is the reason why the Church uses that word in the Creed when we pray that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. So if Jesus proceeds from the Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, it says something about the equality of the Son and the Spirit.
And Jesus makes even more clear today in the Gospel what it is that He is talking about when He says, He will glorify Me because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you. And then says, Everything the Father has is Mine, and tells us that that is why He could say, He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you, because it is what is from the Father. Our Lord also tells us that the Holy Spirit is not going to speak on His own, but rather He will speak only what He hears; and then goes on again to explain that this is what is from the Father and it is what belongs to the Son. But what belongs to the Son is the Father, and therefore the Holy Spirit is going to reveal the fullness of Who Jesus is, and the fullness of Who God the Father is, as well as the fullness of His own self, because the three are one.
That is the great mystery which is ours as Christian people: to believe in the Holy Trinity and to understand also that the Holy Trinity is beyond reason. It is not something that we can ever understand fully in this life or in the next. It is not something we ever could have reasoned to on our own. If it had not been revealed to us by Our Lord and by the Holy Spirit, there is no possible way that anyone ever would have come up with the idea that God is three Persons in one God. There is nothing in nature which would suggest it. We can look at nature and argue to the existence of God, but we cannot look at nature and argue to the existence of a Trinity. This is something that we can believe because we have the Holy Spirit.
Remember that Saint Paul tells us, No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except in the Holy Spirit. So we believe that Jesus is Lord. But it is also true to say that no one can believe in the Holy Trinity except by the Holy Spirit because it is an absolute mystery and it is beyond our comprehension. Therefore, the easier thing to do is to push it off as though somehow because we do not understand it that it must not be true. But it is grasped only by the virtue of faith. And so the fact that you believe in the Most Holy Trinity is a clear indication that the Holy Spirit has been given to you, the Holy Spirit Who has been given to lead you into all truth, the Holy Spirit Who has been given to remind you of everything Jesus told us, the Holy Spirit Who gives to us everything that belongs to the Son. Well, everything that belongs to the Son is the Father Himself; and so the Holy Spirit speaks the Word of the Father, and the Word of the Father is the Son. The Son and the Father are in love with one another, and that love is the Holy Spirit. So He speaks the truth and He speaks it in love.
We have revealed within our own souls, then, the great mystery of the Holy Trinity, the mystery which has come to us, but the mystery into which each one of us is going to be absorbed if we die in the state of grace. That is our glory. But for now, the dwelling place of God is in our souls. Our souls have become heaven as we prepare to be able to enter into the eternity of heaven. God has entered into us and He dwells within us as we prepare to enter into Him for all eternity. What a beautiful exchange that in time God dwells with us, and in eternity we dwell with Him! But to be able to dwell with Him means first that we have to accept the fullness of the truth. The fullness of the truth is revealed only by the Holy Spirit, it is revealed through the Church, and the beginning of that truth is the truth about God Himself. Again, the fact that we can believe in the Trinity is only made possible because God has revealed it through His Church and He has given to each of us the Holy Spirit to believe in the divinity of His Son and to believe in the Trinity of the Godhead.
We each need to thank God for this gift that has been given and to recognize on these levels which we take so for granted that we need to really look at the miracle that takes place within us. There is nothing to take for granted. To be able to believe in the Trinity, to be able to believe in the Lord, already indicates to us, if these are mysteries that are beyond our ability to comprehend, that therefore everything else in the fullness of the truth is right there within us if we are willing only to accept it and to allow the Holy Spirit, Who is given to us to lead us into all truth, to lead us more deeply into the glorious mysteries of the Holy Trinity and of the very Person of Jesus Christ Himself.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.