On this Trinity Sunday, I share some reflections on the Holy Trinity—this profound mystery of our faith.
First, we should realize that Jesus opened up for us the inner life of God. He revealed that God was a Trinity of Persons. Recall, the Jewish people were strict monotheists—Hear O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone! (Dt. 6: 4)—and they held on to this belief despite being surrounded, invaded and conquered by various polytheistic cultures (e.g., Rome). However, Jesus began to teach his disciples God is Father—His Father—and this must have caused significant concern for those around Him. He equated Himself with God, His Father: The Father and I are one. (Jn. 10:30) What exactly does He mean? He also promised to send the Holy Spirit to His disciples once He was gone: But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you (Jn. 16: 7). There is no natural way that we could figure out on our own that God was a Trinity of Persons without Jesus revealing this mystery to us.
Next, we are told that God is love (1 Jn. 4:8) Therefore, the experience of love itself seems to indicate that there should be a lover and a beloved. Within the Trinity, the Father loves the Son from all eternity and the Son loves the Father from all eternity. The love between the two is also a Person: The Holy Spirit. “God's very being is love. By sending his only Son and the Spirit of Love in the fullness of time, God has revealed his innermost secret: God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, CCC # 221)
I contend that things in this world reflect and model for us certain eternal truths—albeit imperfectly—and help us to understand some mysteries of our faith better. Take the example of a family. A husband loves his wife and the wife loves her husband. Their love for each other can be manifest in a child who is the result of their love for each other. In essence, there is a type of a trinitarian love involved here: the love between husband, wife and child. Again, the example is not perfect as God is uncreated, but it does shed some light on an otherwise complicated topic.
Another example from our life experience helps us with our understanding the Trinity. Take H2O which can appear in nature as water, steam or ice. All three have the same chemical composition but can appear in different forms depending on temperature. This helps us to see how something can be three and one at the very same time. Our belief in the Holy Trinity teaches that there are Three Divine Persons in the One True God.
Every time you make the Sign of the Cross, think about how we acknowledge our belief in the Holy Trinity. By God’s immense love for us, we are invited to share in the life of the Trinity and to dwell one day within that eternal exchange of love.
The whole idea can be mind-boggling.
Fr. Ed Namiotka