Trinity Sunday: 3 in 1, 1 in 3!


Explaining the Trinity is not an easy task. I take some consolation in the fact that the great Doctor of the Church St. Augustine of Hippo spent over 30 years working on his treatise De Trinitate [about the Holy Trinity], endeavouring to conceive an intelligible explanation for the mystery of the Trinity. There is a story told that Augustine was walking by the seashore one day contemplating and trying to understand the mystery of the Holy Trinity when he saw a small boy running back and forth from the water to a spot on the seashore. The boy was using a sea shell to carry the water from the ocean and place it into a small hole in the sand.
The Bishop of Hippo approached him and asked, “My boy, what are doing?”
“I am trying to bring all the sea into this hole,” the boy replied with a sweet smile.
“But that is impossible, my dear child, the hole cannot contain all that water” said Augustine.
The boy paused in his work, stood up, looked into the eyes of the Saint, and replied, “It is no more impossible than what you are trying to do – comprehend the immensity of the mystery of the Holy Trinity with your small intelligence.”
The Saint was absorbed by such a keen response from that child, and turned his eyes from him for a short while. When he glanced down to ask him something else, the boy had vanished.

Reflecting, I have to say that today’s liturgy really has the WOW factor! The magnificent of creation is on display in both the first reading and the psalm. The first reading reminds us that God is such a superabundance of love that he wanted to share his love with others, so He chose to create the visible world. All of creation reflects imperfectly the infinite perfections of God. But man in particular, God chose to give a special participation in his being, a special likeness to himself. In Proverbs, the narrator sees himself as a craftsman alongside the Lord who delighted in him.

 Our Psalm is Psalm 8 which recalls how the universe is clotted with wonder. On both the macro and micro levels, in both human and non-human creatures, the cosmos teems with life, with complexity, with music, and with movement. It is all finally every bit as humbling as Psalm 8 claims.
 “When I behold your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars which you set in place—
What is man that you should be mindful of him,
or the son of man that you should care for him?
This psalm addresses what is sometimes called "the humanity question." Who are we? How do we fit? Again, without even knowing how vast space really is, the psalmist saw the moon and stars and felt like nothing by comparison. We have still more cause to feel that way today, and many thinkers do now proclaim that humanity is nothing--or at least nothing special. However it is special, special to the point that God's love impelled him to take action to help his creatures gone astray so when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman (Gal 4:4).  Jesus is the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, who was sent for love of mankind. The Spirit of Truth which the Father sent to bring us to the fullness of the truth. This truth was the truth which Jesus tirelessly proclaimed during the last three years of his life. He  taught the truth behind the Jewish law (cf. Mt 5:17): the fullness of the truth about man and his place in creation, teachings which reveal who man is, and by accepting the truth about oneself, one becomes truly free. This is why Jesus himself proclaimed, ``You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.'' (Jn 8:32).God has revealed himself to the world through the person of Jesus Christ, whose entire life, but especially his passion and death, stand as the archetype of complete self-gift. The Trinity is a mirror of complete self-gift.

On Trinity Sunday in 2011, I professed Perpetual Vows of chastity, poverty and obedience in my parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Athlone. At certain moments of the ceremony I remember thinking of the immensity of what was happening and my inadequacy to be a spouse of Christ. Yet, God who loved me before I was even born had a project for my life which came to fruition on that day of total consecration. I felt loved and embraced by the Trinity, a mystery which I struggled to put words on. Each of the persons of the Trinity lives completely for the others; each is a complete gift of self to the others. The complete self-giving not only constitutes the individual persons of the Trinity, but also their inseparable oneness. By vowing my life to the Lord in community life, I too was committing myself to live completely for others, not for myself. I was vowing to live in community in communion with my sisters, as an individual with all my unique quirkiness, gifts, talents and weaknesses and as a communion of sisters striving to be the Face of Christ for those to whom our mission brings us. This is Trinitarian life.

At the Angelus, Pope Francis shared this insight; Pope Francis explained the Holy Trinity is not the product of human reasoning, but the face with which God has revealed himself, walking with humanity. Every day when we look into the eyes of our brothers and sisters, especially those who suffer, we see Christ and yet we are Christ to them.

When we think of it, life has the WOW factor. If we were even a fraction aware of the love that God has for us, how different would our life be. If we were aware that we live in the constant embrace of the Trinity, which has no beginning and no end.  So today, on this Day of the Lord, take a few  moments for yourself to be with God and experience all that He has created just for you, let your breath be taken away and let out that WOW!

Comments

  1. I was recently explaining the concept of Trinity to some brethren of another faith. I was startled to discover that to them, we Christians are literally 'idolaters and pagans' because they could not get the fact that one God could be three. It took me some time to just calm down and accept that our faith is something that is a grace and a gift. These persons, with their long robes and equally long fasts, thought they were being perfectly logical and reasonable. I just left them where they were at and carried on. I'm so thankful to God for my faith.

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