What’s the point? Are Christians supposed to understand it bit by bit with every year that it’s explained at Trinity Sunday mass?
One God with three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Not three gods, just one, Who has three manifestations: Creator-Father, Savior-Son, and the Divine Love between Them, the Holy Spirit.
Let’s face it. Most church crowds never get that catechism beyond rote memory, even if they forgo looking around, daydreaming and texting, and listen intently to every homily.
So just love God with all your mind, heart and strength, and your neighbor as yourself, and that’s good enough for Him. Leave the Trinity to the theologians.
Except that the theology and the Trinity are actually inside you and me.
Yup, being created in the image of God and living in a world that reflects much of His goodness, the inner nature of God as one in three Persons is also reflected in creation and humanity.
We’re made in His image, right? And if we spend time knowing more about ourselves and our world, we might just figure out this Trinity stuff. And vice-versa: know our Creator better, and we learn more about His creatures—us.
Lesson One: Three are one
First lesson: God can act in many ways which may differ vastly, but they are all acts of one Being.
So there are actions and manifestations, usually with creating and intervening in the physical world, which are attributed to the First Person, God the Father.
What about entering the world as a human being? That’s the Second Person, God the Son, Jesus Christ.
And the Third Person? He works mainly by imparting grace and guidance to people, though He also produced tangible events, like tongues of fire at Pentecost and the Incarnation of Jesus in the Virgin Mary’s womb.
So what does all that say about us? Well, like one God in three Persons, we too act and manifest ourselves in different, even conflicting ways. And the challenge is to ensure that a human being’s many acts and expressions all reflect and fulfill who he or she truly and individually is. The same way each of His three Persons fully reflects God’s will.
That’s never easy, and we don’t always succeed. Some of us even become schizophrenic, with multiple personalities in one being.
God too had at least one moment when two of His Persons had some difference in what Each wanted. At Gethsemane, Jesus told His Father to spare Him the agony of cruficixion. But despite that wish, the Second Person embraced the will of the First in total love and obedience.
So there will be instances when there is discord between a creature’s inner will and his or its outward action. So it is with groups, groups, organizations, and society at large. And the challenge is to discipline and direct disparate parts and actions toward what the entity truly wants to achieve.
Lesson Two: Mind, body and love
Next point: God has a Person that calls the shots, so to speak; a Second Person who fulfills the will of the First in the visible, material world; and a Third Person who binds the Two together and also does Their bidding, especially in the hearts and souls of men.
Again, this three-part nature is seen in human beings. Man has a inner mind and soul that wills what he wishes to do, and a body that executes it in the world.
Take away the mind, and the body becomes a, well, mindless mass of tissue and fluids driven only by impulse. Impair the body, and the soul is also restricted in how it acts in the world (although the mind can still envision and wish for actions the body can no longer do). And if the body loses life, then the soul is dissolved or, as the faithful believe, moves on to the afterlife.
Just as God the Father commands the obedience of the Son, and the Spirit binds and follows the Father and the Son, the human being wants the body to follow the mind, such that the two are tightly bound by a unifying link that makes their actions not just the acts of the mind or the body alone, but the entire person, body and soul.
So it is with human society and organizations. Their members are supposed to follow the tenets and edicts set down by their leadership. Leaders sans followers are like minds without bodies: they have no impact in the world. But groups bereft of leadership or whose members disobey, lose organizational identity and being, and in time dissolve.
One more thing: a family or an organization’s unifying spirit is not just some abstact ideal or set of instructions everyone follows, but also the caring and concern all members have for one another. In sum, what binds the group together is love for their common ideals as well as their fellow members.
So it is with the Trinity: The Holy Spirit is the binding love between the Father and the Son, Who also brings the faithful in a loving union with God to love Him and bring forth His will and His kingdom in the world.
Lesson Three: Thy will be done
Okay, so the Blessed Trinity is like the different aspects of a person or an entity: one with the governing will, another with the physical presence in the world, and a unifying spirit of purpose and love. And all creatures and groupings should emulate the Creator’s unity and love as seen in His Three Persons acting in concert for the divine will.
But frankly, that sounds all too abstract, especially amid the rough and tumble, the blood, sweat and tears of everyday life, with its troubles and tragedies, cruelty and calamity. How is the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity of use in the pains of harsh reality?
Ask the one creature who had the most intimate relationships with the Triune God: chosen and created immaculate by the Father, overshadowed by the Spirit to conceive the Son, Who then became Flesh of her flesh, Blood of her blood, and cared for by her from Bethlehem to Calvary.
“Be it done unto me according to your word,” said Mary, presaging her Son’s assent at Gethsemane. Through their two yeses God’s saving grace came into the world.
Embrace the Father’s will, and thus be one with HIm like the Son and the Spirit. And God’s saving grace and power shall elevate our lives and our world.