One of the most challenging truths of the faith for Catholics to defend is that of the Trinity. We know and believe it in our heads, but how do we explain it to others? For that we can turn to Origen.
Origen (AD 185-253) was a great theologian who taught us much about the Trinity, unmistakably affirming the divinity of Jesus as well as the Trinity. This was during a time when heresies claimed the opposite. Although Origen was initially himself accused of being a heretic, he later was cleared of the charges, becoming one of our noted Church Fathers.
In a passage he wrote sometime between AD 220-230, he made the following important points:
- There is only one God
- Jesus is a person distinct from the Father. Jesus is also God.
- The Holy Spirit is a person distinct from the Father and the Son, but associated in honor and dignity with them.
He insisted that these teachings came directly from the Apostles themselves.
Based on the writings of Origen and other Church Fathers, we can refer to nine separate Scripture passages that defend the Trinity’s existence. They would make excellent fodder for a meditation on the Holy Trinity, drawing us more deeply into the reality that God consists of three distinct beings: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Only One God
Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one… (Mk 12:29)
[W]e know that “no idol in the world really exists,” and that “there is no God but one.” Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords— yet for us there is one God… (1 Cor 8: 4-6)
You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. (James 2:19)
Jesus is God
Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. (Jn 8:58-59)
But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father. (Jn 10:38)
For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily… (Col 2:9)
The Holy Spirit is God
“Ananias,” Peter asked, “why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, were not the proceeds at your disposal? How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You did not lie to us but to God!” (Acts 5:3-4)
So they disagreed with each other; and as they were leaving, Paul made one further statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah,
‘Go to this people and say,
You will indeed listen, but never understand,
and you will indeed look, but never perceive.
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and their ears are hard of hearing,
and they have shut their eyes;
so that they might not look with their eyes,
and listen with their ears,
and understand with their heart and turn—
and I would heal them.’
Let it be known to you then that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.” (Acts 28:25-28)
For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God. (1 Cor 2:11)
Finally, we can refer to the mission Jesus gave to his disciples before his Ascension. “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (Mt 28:19) This is our mission, too, as modern day disciples of Jesus. We’ve been commissioned to spread the Gospel wherever we go through our thoughts, words, and actions, leading others to the Holy Trinity.