The Holy Trinity is a mystery that Scripture does not prove. This Sunday following Pentecost, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Blessed Trinity. The Triune nature of God is the principal mystery of the Catholic faith. Today we contemplate the first and last horizon of the universe and of history: the Love of God – the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. God is not solitude, but perfect communion.
To understand better the Trinity, we need not only the words of Sacred Scripture but holy images. An image is worth more than a thousand words. One image that has helped me enter into the Trinitarian mystery is the famous icon of the Trinity by Andrei Rublev. The icon introduces us to the threshold of the mystery of God.
I have always loved Rublev’s image because it depicts in an extraordinary way what lies at the heart of our Triune God. The Father gazes lovingly towards the Son; the Son is looking obediently towards the Father; and the Holy Spirit is that breadth of love between the Father and the Son. We could say that God’s nature reveals itself in the dynamic relations among the divines. It is in the self-emptying and gazing at the other that the transcendence of God becomes manifest.
Behind each of the three personages in the icon, Rublev has put a symbol that enables each person to be identified. On the left, the House of the Father; at the centre a tree, where the Cross transforms itself into a new tree of life; and on the right a rock, from which gushed out the water in the desert that prefigured the gift of the Spirit. The dish offered by Abraham to his guests resembles the Paschal cup, which prefigures the Eucharistic cup. For Rublev, the meeting of Abraham with the three angels reveals God, his divine council who elaborates the plan of salvation. The contemplation of the icon of the Trinity is transformed into a meditation on the whole history of salvation. It finds its completion in the very mystery of the Father, of the Son, and the Spirit.
The Lord, a God who is merciful
In today’s first reading from Exodus (34:4b-6, 8-9), God is revealed to Moses: “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious…” (34:6ff) God proclaims his own Name to us! He does so in the presence of Moses with whom he spoke face to face, as with a friend. There could be no better way to tell us the truth about God’s identity. God’s Name is Mercy, Grace, and Faithfulness.
The second reading of today’s liturgy (2 Corinthians 13:11-13), closes with the words: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” The mention of Jesus Christ, God, and the Holy Spirit is more than a hint of the three persons in God, One and Unique, whom we want to encounter in our prayer. This formula probably has its roots in the Tradition of the early Church.
The first verse of today’s Gospel begins with the statement that God loves the world (John. 3:16). “Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8). “So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them” (1 John 4:16). God loves the Son: “The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands” (John 3:35). God loves Israel with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). To celebrate the Trinity is to be in the “communion of the Holy Spirit”’ (2 Corinthians 13:13) wherein we know that God loves us.
Our God is rich in relationships
Our God is rich in relationships, communication, and love for all people. This God models to us what the dynamic Trinitarian life is all about – communication, relationship, and affection. The quality of our Christian life is based on imitation of the interior life of the Trinity. The Trinity is the model of every human community, from the most simple and elemental, which is the family, to the universal Church. It shows how love creates unity out of diversity: unity of intentions, of thought, of will; diversity of subjects, of characteristics, and, in the human realm, of sex. And we see, specifically, what a family can learn from the Trinitarian model.
Embracing the mystery each day
On Trinity Sunday, rather than try to solve the mystery, let us ask how open we are to it: the mystery of why God created us to begin with; the mystery of God loving us, desiring to be part of our lives, to live in our hearts; to be one with us; the mystery of God inviting us to share in the life of the Trinity – Father, Son, and Spirit; the mystery of a God who cares for us like a loving parent, who lays down his life for us like a best friend, who fills our hearts like a lover who will not be refused.
While the Holy Trinity is a mystery that cannot be proven by Scripture we come into contact, through our liturgy, with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”
How many times each day do we make the sign of the Cross? It may be in our Morning Offering, at grace before meals, at Mass, or before we retire for the night. It may be when we pray the Liturgy of the Hours, or recite the Rosary. How often do we sign ourselves “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”? How often do we think about the deep meaning of these words and this simple, yet profound Trinitarian gesture?
Today let us pause and think of what we are doing when we mark ourselves with the sign of the Cross. What does it mean to sign myself with the Divine love that binds the Godhead as One? God said at creation, “Let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:26). He spoke of Himself as “Us,” implying the Trinitarian nature in which we Catholics believe. God also said that we humans would image that nature. How does my life reflect the community of love that is the Godhead? How do I image the Divine nature, which is Love itself? Are mercy, grace, and faithfulness part of my identity?