We believe in one God.
We believe in God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – the Most Holy Trinity.
Now, try to explain that to a non-Christian!
We have a tough enough time wrapping our noodles around this truth ourselves! So, how are we to address this holy Mystery of our faith? Do we do what many people do, and ignore it? Do we try not to think about it? Do we say, “Just accept it” and move on?
Whatever we do, we cannot simply dismiss this truth. It is important – whether we understand it or not; whether we grasp it or not. But how do we explain it?
Today’s celebration, wherein we honor God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, recognizes a simple reality: God is one-in-three, and three-in-one; united in divinity, distinct in personality.
I said this was simple. I did not say it was easy!
The Mystery of the Trinity is a mystery of relationship. We cannot dismiss this central truth of our faith. Jesus, as He returns to the Father, reminds us that we are to honor and recall this “name” of God. He commands the Apostles, to baptize “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
This mystery of relationship is Jesus’ departing gift to us. We are now called into communion with God in God’s most intimate Being. United with Jesus in our shared humanity, Jesus allows us to call upon “Our Father,” just as He does. We are caught up in the same relationship with God that Jesus shared as a man on earth. God is Communion – a communion of love: Father loving Son; Son loving Father; Spirit proceeding in love from both.
It is significant that we speak of the “persons” of the Trinity. Without persons, there can be no relationship – and more specifically, there can be no personal relationship. Moses marvels at this fact, when he celebrates how personally involved God has been with His People, Israel – speaking to them, bringing them out of Egypt, establishing them as a people. When God created us, He created us for personal relationships – because we are created in the image of God, and that image is one of love. Original sin – the sin of Adam and Eve – reveals how we fall from that original blessedness that God intends for us all.
In the beginning, humans were created in perfect harmony with one another, with creation, and above all with God. Notice that when the sin Adam and Eve fall away from that beautiful harmony. When confronted by God, Adam blames the woman, and God (“The woman, whom You put here…”). Eve blames creation (“The serpent …”). How about you parents? When a child is acting up, do you ever say, "Guess what your son did today?" The result is that humanity – we – is estranged from God, from the word, and from one another. The divine image in which we were created is marred.
Jesus, the Son of God, Who became human through the mystery of the Incarnation, came to restore that image. His ministry was one of reconciliation – of bringing us back together with God and with one another. This was the most important thing for Christ – so important, that as He returns to the Father, He reminds His Church to continue this mission: “Make disciples of all nations … teaching them to observe all I have commanded you.” Jesus calls us to rebuild relationships. In doing so, we are helping to restore that original blessedness that God intends for us all.
So, Trinity Sunday is a call for us to remember the Image in which we have been created. We must recall that God is a relationship of love, so we must be a relationship of love. It begins with building our personal relationship with Jesus – the Son of God who became man in order to relate to us as we know how. That relationship with Jesus invites us into the relationship of the Trinity anew, and we can call upon “our Father” in the midst of the Church, which is that sacrament of Unity. The Holy Spirit fills us as God’s enduring presence in our midst, driving us out to build new relationships with others, so that they can know God too.
Ultimately, we return to the mystery. Like any good mystery, God first inspires wonder and awe (gifts of God themselves). It does us no good to have some loose intellectual hold on this “doctrine of the Trinity” if we ourselves are not able to live it.
At the end of the course on the Trinity that I had to take in seminary, after months of deep philosophical and theological explanation, after hearing what Scripture and the saints throughout history have taught on this deep mystery of God, our teacher stood before us and reminded us of what was most important to know about the Blessed Trinity – and it all came back to relationship.
“God is love,” he said. “Understand that, and all else follows.”
It’s not easy, but it really is that simple.