The first Sunday after Pentecost, we celebrate the greatest “unsolved mystery” of all, the Most Holy Trinity. God is One, Holy, Uncreated, Indivisible, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. How this could be true has puzzled people for generations and likely will continue to puzzle those who are yet to be born. Yet this is the fundamental belief of our faith. God is creator of all. God became the human man, Jesus, who lived and died as a fully human man and was raised back to life by the Father. God comes as the Holy Spirit to enlighten and guide each of us. And this is just one God.
I don’t know if any of you who read this will have had this kind of experience, but my husband and I find ourselves talking about subjects like the Trinity from time to time. Most recently, I was washing dishes and he mentioned that he was thinking about what to include in his homily for this day. (He’s a deacon and preaches regularly in his parish.) Coincidentally, I had been thinking about the Trinity as well, wondering what to say in this week’s post. So we discussed the mystery of the Trinity over the dishes. I don’t know what he will share with folks at Mass, but here are my thoughts as developed since that brief conversation.
The readings this week don’t give us a lot of explanation, though the second letter from St. Paul to the Corinthians (2 Cor 13:11-13) ends with a blessing that we often use at the beginning of Mass. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” This is a clear statement of the early understanding of God as more than simply creator, but no more explanation of how it can be is given. It simply is the way it is, as understood by Christians by around 57 A.D. Who could ask for more than the grace of the Lord Jesus, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit?
And yet, we are human. We continually ask why and how, from the time we are very, very young. (Parenthetically, one of my favorite songs is “Why Oh Why,” originally by Woodie Guthrie and modified and sung for children by Anne Murray. It’s worth a listen if you haven’t heard it. It concludes with the confession that the reason many questions can’t be answered is that “I don’t know the answer…”)
Part of the challenge, I think, is with the word we use – mystery. We’re used to thinking of a mystery as something to be solved. Classic examples are seen in the stories of Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, even the Perry Mason television shows of my childhood. Something has happened. Someone is dead or injured. “Who dunnit?”
However, the classic meaning of mystery in a religious sense is something that has been revealed and cannot be understood in human terms. The mystery of the Trinity is not something we can explain. We humans like order and logic. But that is not necessarily the ultimate reality. The ultimate reality is unbridled, unlimited love that overflows into creation, gives freedom to the created to love or not, and will do anything and everything to renew and sustain that bond of love. As Jesus told Nicodemus, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (Jn 3:16-18)
From the very beginning of creation, when God looked at all of creation and pronounced it good, God is there, loving and guiding and coaxing humans to live in love. When humans choose not to love, or they get frightened and start following other ways, God doesn’t turn away and refuse to give another chance. On Mount Sinai in the desert, after the people had created idols of gold and Moses had broken the stones on which the Law was originally inscribed by God, the Lord met again with Moses. (Ex 34:4b-6, 8-9) What name did the Lord give to express his identity when he and Moses met again? “The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.” This is the name, the power, of our God – mercy, kindness, graciousness, fidelity.
God is complex. God is beyond our ability to name or otherwise confine. And we are made in God’s image. So I am daughter, mother, grandmother, woman, anthropologist, bookkeeper, insurance professional, blogger, Scout leader, teacher, wife, artist, lover of science, music, art, gardening, camping, and so much more. If one human being can wear so many hats, so many identities, and still be simply one person, I guess it’s OK for God to be the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
But enough logic and thinking deep thoughts for one day. Today is a day to rejoice in the mystery of God who is love and who comes to us in the ins and outs of our lives, always there, always hoping we’ll notice and enjoy.
Let’s just give thanks and enjoy this great mystery!
Readings for the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity – Cycle ARead More