One God and Father of Us All
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. Homily by Archbishop I. A. Kaigama at St. Patrick’s Parish, Karshi, May 30, 2021.
Readings: Dt. 4:32-34, 39-40; Ps. 32(33): 4-6, 9, 18-22; Rm. 8:14-17; Mt. 28:16-20
ONE GOD AND FATHER OF US ALL
Today, on this solemnity of the Blessed Trinity, I am visiting and celebrating with you here in St. Patrick’s Parish, Karshi, situated on the border of Lafia Diocese and Abuja Archdiocese. “Karshi” in Hausa which suggests “the end” or “the last” does not mean you are far from the love and pastoral life of the family of God in the Archdiocese of Abuja. Blessings upon you the Parish Priest and Dean of Karshi Deanery, Rev Fr. Matthias Selemobri MSP, your wonderful collaborators, the 82 candidates for confirmation today, and indeed, all the members of this parish.
We Catholics always begin our prayers expressing our belief in the one true God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Some accuse us of being polytheistic (serving many gods). No, we are not. We believe in one God, the Creator of all that is visible and invisible and in whom we live, move and have our being (cf. Acts 17:28; 1 Cor. 8:6). The Son Jesus Christ is our Redeemer (cf. Eph. 1:3-14) and the Holy Spirit is our Sanctifier and the Counsellor (cf. Jn. 14:16).
The Council of Florence in 1441 AD used the Greek word “perichoresis” (mutual indwelling) to describe the relationship of the Trinity. “The Father is wholly in the Son and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Son is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Son. None precedes the other in eternity, none exceeds the other in greatness or excels the other in greatness or excels the other in power”.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the Trinity is “the central mystery of Christian faith and life” (no. 234). It is a mystery because it is a truth that we cannot fully comprehend or explain because we are limited by nature. This mystery can best be appreciated only with the “mind of faith.”
This Solemnity offers me an opportunity to make some clarifications.
Monotheism means the Lord is one God (cf. Deut. 6:4). He alone deserves worship (cf. Ex. 20:3). Atheism on the other hand is the belief that there is no God.
Some of us believe that there is a separate God for the Christians and a different God for Muslims, and a different one for Buddhists, another for Hindus, etc. Looking however at the perfect harmony, the arrangement of times and seasons, the creation of the over 7 billion human beings on earth with unique but similar features point to the reality that there is one who stirs the affairs of the universe but remains unmoved; one who changes things but remains unchanged.
When we think a different God made the Muslims and another one made the Christians, this inevitably leads us to be less charitable towards one another. Unhealthy competition, superiority complex and aggression will be the result. Rather than acknowledging our common (Abrahamic faith) origin as the springboard for our spiritual and social actions, we engage in the futile struggle to Christianize or Islamize Nigeria; severely hurt one another in dehumanizing treatments and even prepared to kill, maim and destroy in the name of God, instead of being bound together as individuals for a peaceful and prosperous nation.
Nigerians must learn how to overcome historical differences and prejudices, condescending ethnic and religious attitudes and divisive behaviour which are a barrier to national growth. We must build a better Nigeria, recognizing that we have one God and Father of us all.
The similarities of the physical features of all human beings and the uniformity of the functions of our body parts, buttress the fact that there is one God who created all, whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Traditionalist, rich, poor, white, black, man or woman. If different gods made human beings, some human beings would have features of elephants or hyenas. God the perfect artist allowed human beings to have accidental differences, which is why some are white, black, short, tall, fat or thin. This does not distract from our common humanity, despite our socio-cultural backgrounds or religious or political affiliations. Our diversity should not contradict our humanity.
St. Thomas Aquinas’ five ways to prove the existence of God help us to understand our common origin:
The Unmoved Mover: There must have been a first mover, unmoved itself of the celestial bodies, the changing of seasons, night and day etc., and that is God.
The Uncaused Cause: It is impossible for a being to cause its own existence. It is caused by another being that is higher than the effect. God is the cause of all.
The Necessary Being: Our existence on earth is only for a time, but there must exist a being without beginning or end, who has always existed beyond space and time and that is God.
The Absolute Being: God is the yardstick for the measurement of all things: beauty, intelligence, truth, etc. We are only a reflection of God who contains the greatest perfection.
The Grand Designer: The orderly movement of different planetary bodies (e.g. sun and moon), as well as times (weeks, months, years, etc.), and seasons (dry, wet, summer, winter, etc.) leave us with the question of who guides or controls the affairs of these things – God.
If we realize and accept that the entire universe is under the government and sovereignty of one God, we will always seek to cooperate with one another: religious bodies with government institutions, Nigerians of northern origin with Nigerians of southern origin, security agents (air force, army, navy, police, civil defence, etc) complementing the efforts of one another; states with the federal government, traditional rulers with political leaders. The result will be progress and a love that binds us in an unconditional and unbreakable bond.