Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted by on Jun 4, 2023

Mystery of Mystery – The Trinity

Mystery of Mystery – The Trinity

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 A

Read More

Posted by on May 30, 2021

Trinity Sunday – A celebration of a fundamental mystery of our faith

Trinity Sunday – A celebration of a fundamental mystery of our faith

The mystery of the Holy Trinity is celebrated today, the first Sunday after Pentecost. It is a mystery that Christians have been contemplating and trying to comprehend since the earliest days of the faith. We believe in a God who is One, yet we also claim that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. How can that be? Most religions simply say that there are many gods. Maybe there’s one high god in their system, but there are may others too. We Christians don’t agree. God is One. Yet there is a wondrous complexity to that One.

In the first reading today, we hear Moses reminding the Israelites of the history of their relationship with God. These are the children of the people who first left Egypt forty years earlier. Moses reminds them of the wonder of the fact that the same God who created the heavens and the earth has chosen them to be his special people, his special friends. More than that, he rescued them from slavery and now has led them through the desert to a land that will be their own. God cares about them and has given them a set of rules and guidelines that will allow them to live together in peace in their new homeland. God has chosen to enter into a relationship of love with humans. God will provide for his people as a parent provides for children.

The second reading, from the letter of St. Paul to the Romans, reminds us of the role of the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit, the holy breath of God, the Spirit of Love leads the children of God. But this relationship between humans and the divine Spirit is not one of slavery or coercion. There is no need to fear God who is Spirit. God calls us children. We are to think of God as a Father, a Dad, a Papa. With Jesus, the Son of God, the Word of God, we become heirs of the glory of God as we live the life to which we are called. All the wonders of a loving relationship are ours.

In the Gospel reading, we hear the end of St. Matthew’s account of the life of Jesus. Jesus calls his remaining eleven disciples to a mountaintop. There he commissions them to be apostles, the ones who will go out and tell the world what they have seen and heard: that the man Jesus, Son of God, has been “given all power in heaven and on earth.” He sends them forth to baptize people from all the world, bringing them into a relationship of love with the same God and Father who chose the Israelites so long ago. They are to baptize in the name – the power and authority – of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. He also promises that he will remain with them always, to the end of the age.

We live today in this love of God. Baptized into this relationship. Most of the time we are as conscious of it as a fish is of the water in which it lives. But the love of God surrounds us and permeates our being. Father Creator, Beloved Son, and Holy Spirit. One God, in a dancing trinity of love and relationship which catches us up into the dance.

Read More

Posted by on May 26, 2013

A Fundamental Mystery of Our Faith: The Trinity

A Fundamental Mystery of Our Faith: The Trinity

orion nebula space galaxy

The first Sunday after Easter (the whole season) is Trinity Sunday. We celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection at Easter for fifty days, beginning with Easter Sunday and finishing with Pentecost. Before we move ahead with the counted Sundays known as Ordinary Time, we pause to celebrate the mystery of the interior life of God, the mystery of the Holy Trinity.

With our Jewish and Muslim sisters and brothers, we Christians believe in one God. However, as Christians, we believe that God is a very complex Unity. We speak of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit: three persons yet still one in being. Efforts to explain this reality in any sort of logical fashion always fall short. God is so much more than we can conceive. Nevertheless, through the centuries, Christians have offered many models and analogies to help each other appreciate the wonder of our God’s life — a life which we are gifted to share. Some early models speak of the Trinity as a dance. Some speak of a God who is Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. Some speak of the Father as knowing “himself” so totally that the divine self-knowledge becomes the Son, with the Father and Son so accepting of their relationship of knowing and being what is known that that acceptance itself becomes the Holy Spirit. We are told that God is Love, with the Holy Spirit then being the Holy Spirit of Love. Add in the notion — a fundamental belief of the Church — that God became a fully human being in Jesus and we have even more to ponder. How can the Divine One become human? What is it to be human and divine? How does divinity make a human even more fully human? How can it happen that through the life and death of the man Jesus, who is fully human and fully divine, God pours out God’s own life into the lives of all humans?

Fr. Ron Shirley suggests that our efforts to understand the Trinity are much like those of the proverbial blind men who try to describe an elephant based on feeling only one aspect of the animal. Each of us has a unique experience of God and brings that experience to the community to share. God is bigger than any one of us can comprehend and none of us can put God into a box and tie it up with a ribbon of satisfied comprehension. God will always burst out from our boxes and surprise us with another facet of the reality of what it is to be God.

For a scholarly consideration of the Trinity, the history of development of our understandings of the Trinity, and the importance of understanding God as a community of being inviting us to enter into the Divine community, Catherine LaCugna’s work, God for Us: The Trinity and Christian Life is well worth reading. For a thought-provoking exploration of the Trinity in the life of individuals today, William P. Young’s novel, The Shack, offers a compelling vision of the Trinity and the divine perspective on human life, death, suffering, and forgiveness. C.S. Lewis’ novels of Narnia offer yet another vision of the relationship between God and all of creation, including the insight that the divine is not tame. Jose Antonio Pagola’s work, Jesus: An Historical Approximation, offers an engaging look at Jesus’ life in the context of his culture and religious tradition, with the contemporary scholar’s eye distinguishing among factors such as known historical facts, the probability of accuracy in quoting Jesus’ words, and the theological reflections that combined to form the Gospels as we know them today.

Regardless of how we try to explain the interior life of God, we are continually invited to enter into that life. May we have the courage to step forward and let ourselves be drawn into the wild dance of Love.

Orion Nebula – Space Galaxay – NASA image



Read More