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The Way of the Holy Trinity and the Community

Homily of H.E. Most Rev. Charles John Brown D.D., Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines

May 25, 2024 | Vespers Mass for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity


My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, for me as your Apostolic Nuncio, it gives me a lot of joy and happiness to be with you this evening; here in Santisima Trinidad Parish, here in Malate, for the 30th Founding Anniversary Fiesta, which you are celebrating this evening and tomorrow. Tomorrow you will have the cardinal coming for Mass. So, the even bigger celebration. I'm very, very grateful to your parish priest, Rev. Fr. Carmelo P. Arada, Jr., affectionately known as “Father Jek”, who has invited me to be with you this evening. Here he is. Thank you, Father Jek for inviting me.


I've come from the Apostolic Nunciature on Taft Ave., with our newly arrived Councilor at the Nunciature, Monsignor Giuseppe Trentadue, who came from Italy just one month ago to begin working here; and the wonderful Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres (SPC), who work at nunciature. They're here this evening also; and two of my friends from Ireland are here. So, we're gathered in a magnificent moment of praise and joy to the Blessed Trinity, on this wonderful feast day―Holy Trinity.


We're kind of living, we can say, at this feast day, the afterglow of the resurrection of the Lord. We have the resurrection: Easter. Then, we had the celebration of Pentecost, the arrival of the Holy Spirit; and that joy pervades and continues now in the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, which is the Patron, Solemnity of your Parish. What a wonderful feast day; and it gives me so much joy to be with you this evening.


Fundamental Mystery and Reality of our Faith

The Holy Trinity, the Blessed Trinity, is God Himself. It is the fundamental mystery and the fundamental reality of our faith. Faith in the Trinity. God is perfectly one and God is perfectly three at the same time. That, of course, is a concept that goes beyond our imagining, beyond our mental capacity to comprehend, to understand. How can God be three and one at the same time? It's very interesting. It means that our idea of God is something that is beyond our complete understanding. God is beyond us. God is the source of everything that exists. Why does anything exist? Why is there “something” rather than “nothing”? Because of God; and God is three and one. This is the fundamental mystery.


It was our Lord Jesus Christ, our Divine Savior, who came into this world to reveal to us the truth of God. Because, left on our own, we could not imagine or understand God. Only in and through Jesus is God's true nature, God's true reality revealed to us: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.


You know, brothers and sisters, there are little signs, indications of the Trinity in creation. As I said, God created everything and He left marks, we can say. Indications, hints of the Trinity in His creation. Think about time. We live in time, don't we? Time is a unity, but how is time divided? It's divided into past, present, and future, right? Time is one with the three dimensions: past―it just happened, the present moment, and future. So, God's Trinity, God's Trinitarian nature is somehow indicated even in the structure of time in which we live. Think about space around us. Any point in space can be localized and determined by how many dimensions? Three. Three dimensions in space: height, width and depth. Every point in space is determined by three dimensions. So, time and space contain these indications of God, the Blessed Trinity, God who is Three, God who is One. Think about the structure, the essential, fundamental structure of the family: mother, father, child. Three and one, right? The essential structure of the human family.


So, we see all of these little indications of the Trinity in creation around us; but the point of the Trinity is that it is beyond our imagining. Something that we needed Jesus to reveal it to us. Because on our own, we could not understand. How God could be unity and multiplicity at the same time? One and Three at the same time.


Camino de Trinidad

Your wonderful feast day this year has the theme of Camino de Trinidad. Very interesting word: Camino de Trinidad. What does camino mean in the Spanish language and in Tagalog? It means “the way”. The way. In fact, when Jesus in the Gospel says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6), in Spanish, He says “Yo soy el camino, y la verdad, y la vida.” “Camino” is “way”. Way. Camino is a path, a journey, a going forward.


This is a very important concept for us as Catholics. Because Jesus says, “I am the way”, “I am the Camino”. In the Greek language, the word for way, the word for camino, the word for path is “οδος” (transliteration: hodos; phonetic spelling: hod-os'). That’s a word we don't really hear very often. Although some of you who have an automobile or a scooter might have a small meter on your scooter or on your car, that measures how many miles or kilometers your car has gone. That meter, in American English at least, is called an “odometer”. Odometer, the same Greek word “hodos” means “way”, it measures, that little meter, how many kilometers has your scooter or your tricycle or your jeepney gone on the way. Hodos is way.


This idea of the way also got a Trinitarian aspect of unity and multiplicity. Because on the way, that is, Christ, all of us are gathered together. We are walking on the way, on the hodos, but we are going together on the hodos. That means in the Greek language, that hodos, the way, becomes the root word for another word in Greek: σύνοδος (synodos), synod. [The first word] “σύν” (transliteration: sun; phonetic spelling: soon) or “syn”, meaning “together” or “with”, and hodos, on the way.


Pope Francis has asked us to reflect on the Synodal Structure of the Church. That we're together on the way, we're unity in multiplicity like the Trinity, and we're walking on the way, the way that leads to the Kingdom of God.


That's what it means to be a Catholic: to be walking on the way with Jesus. Allowing Jesus to show us the way. Because He is the way, the truth and the life. That we don't go alone on the hodos; we go with other people in the Church, in the synodos, the synod, walking together. In fact, the original meaning of the word synodos, synod meant a caravan.


Imagine a caravan going from one city to another, carrying precious merchandise, with camels, and dromedaries, and donkeys, and people, everyone moving together. That is what a synod, in its root word means a “caravan”. That's what the Church is. We are moving together, walking together, helping one another. We are a unity in multiplicity, like the Blessed Trinity, walking together.



Church as a Caravan, Stretching Through Time

You know, brothers and sisters, this walking together does not only exist at this moment in time, 2024. All of us, Catholics walking together, helping one another in this synodal process. This walking together also goes through time. Right? Imagine a caravan. Not a caravan existing at one moment in history, but a caravan going through time. Imagine a long procession. We made a beautiful procession at the beginning of Mass this evening. All of these altar boys, fantastic to see all of them. We're walking into the church in a procession. The Church is like that. It's a procession that goes through time.


In that procession, in the very front, we have the apostles, right? Peter and the other apostles. Then maybe right behind them, we have the early saints: Agnes, Cecilia, Anastasia; and behind them the fathers of the Church: Augustine, Jerome, St. John Chrysostom. Behind them, the saints of the Middle Ages: Saint Francis, St. Dominic; and behind them in this procession, we see Lorenzo Ruiz, Filipino saint. Then closer to our time, we see Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity, who we honor this evening. Even closer to us, close to us, just in front of us in the procession, we see Mother Teresa Calcutta, we see John Paul II. We are walking in their footsteps, through time towards the Kingdom of Heaven.


That is why we will take the relics of Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity, and place them under the altar, to remind us that the saints are the mile markers. They're the street signs on the path that leads us to the Kingdom of God. So, if we want to be truly synodal, we need to look at the saints who went before us. Because they show us the Way. They show us the Via. They show us the Camino that we must follow. We follow their example.


That's what Catholic reform of the Church means. To reorient ourselves so that we're walking with the Saints who were in front of us. Non-Catholic reform of the Church says, “No, I'm gonna go this way. I'm gonna go my own way. Bye, bye.” That's not Catholic. Catholic means to follow in these footsteps of the saints, the ones who have gone before us, who chart the path. They are the mile markers for us. 


Make Friends with the Saints

That's why, brothers and sisters, it's good not only to pray to the Saints, to pray to their images, which is so wonderful, but also to know about their lives. To learn about the saints, study about them, know them, make friends with the saints. Make friends with the saints, so they can show you the way, the hodos that you need to walk in order in this world to reach the Kingdom of Heaven.


So, all of these themes are gathered together with us this evening. This idea of the Trinity as unity and multiplicity, the Church as unity and multiplicity, all of us going together, but not only at this moment in history, but through time. Following the saints, loving the saints, learning about the saints. 


Many of us have saints’ names that we carry, right? Know your patron saint. Learn about his or her life. Try to imitate his or her virtues. That will keep you on the right path. That will keep you on the right camino, and keep you from going astray.


Conclusion

So, brothers and sisters in Christ, for me as your apostolic nuncio on this evening, here in your wonderful Parish of La Santisima Trinidad, under this beautiful image of Mary, Our Lady being crowned in Heaven by the Blessed Trinity; we offer our prayers of thanksgiving for 30 years of parish life, here in your wonderful parish.


We thank God for all the people who have gone before us. We remember always to pray also for Pope Francis, which is one of my responsibilities, as your nuncio, is to remind you, don't forget to pray for Pope Francis. Whenever I go to Rome, he always asks me, “Did you ask the Filipinos to pray for me?”, and I have to say “Yes”. I don't want to tell a lie to the Pope. So, please pray for Pope Francis, and have a wonderful and blessed fiesta. May God bless you.


Transcribed by Joel V. Ocampo

photos from Santisima Trinidad Parish Facebook page

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