Ask any student of theology about the Trinity and the answer you’re likely to receive is this: “It’s a mystery.”
To the uninitiated, that may sound trite, if not a downright attempt to avoid offering an answer to a theological issue that has challenged and fascinated theologians for centuries. But the more one attempts to study the nature of our triune God, the more one has to stand back and marvel and the infinite depth and beauty of this core tenet of our faith. Like a Celtic knot, the Trinity’s infinite entwinement leads us ever deeper, marvelling at what is at once so simple and yet so stunningly complex. If our limited human brains can understand anything about God, it is that God’s essence is beyond our wildest imaginings.
Today we mark the solemnity of Trinity Sunday, a day to celebrate the reality of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The timing, one week after Pentecost, is ideal, as we have just completed Lent and Easter, days that offer us dramatic encounters with all three persons of the Trinity. The very nature of our salvation stems from the fact that we are loved by one God who is three persons.
We affirm and celebrate that reality each and every time we recite the Creed and every time we make the sign of the cross. When I was studying theology, I heard many lectures on the complexities of the Trinity, attempting to explain the relationships and natures of each person of God. Terms like missions and processions could make my head swim, lending credence to the “it’s a mystery” argument.
But it needn’t be so complex for us. If we turn to John 3:16 — “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life,” and then embrace the mission assigned us in the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, we will have an innate understanding of what the Trinity offers of us and asks of us.
A mystery, yes. But a beautiful one at that.
-Catherine Mulroney, Editor of Living with Christ, Canada’s Companion for Living and Praying the Eucharist