Trinity Sunday is often depicted as the most difficult feast on which pastors must preach. That could be the case if one expects preaching to be a theological discourse which will leave a congregation with a fuller understanding of the nature of the triune God. But that assumes that faith is primarily intellectual, and that the Trinity is an object far removed from Christian living. Two bad assumptions.
The Trinity is about Jesus and is about life in Christ. On Trinity Sunday, we stand in awe at God’s gift of his Son to humanity. Without Jesus, we would have no notion that God is three persons in one God. Nor would we know that God is love. Our “knowledge” of God would be nothing more than speculation, aided perhaps if we had the good fortune to stumble on the book of the prophet Isaiah.
Some want us to believe that we can come to know God from any starting place – through mindfulness, gazing upon the stars or seeing that creation is ordered. To say that we need Jesus to know God is then viewed as Christian imperialism, a European cultural imposition on the rest of humanity. For sure, these points of departure do help us know that there is a transcendent power beyond anything our senses can detect.
But God has been so gracious as to reveal much more than awareness of a transcendent power. He allows us to share in his inner life through his Son who brought heaven to earth and earth to heaven. Other religions should not be seen as evil, but as human attempts to reach beyond our finite existence to the vastness of eternity. In other words, to do the impossible.
Jesus reveals God. “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.” (John 1.18) Jesus is God emptying himself and, out of love for humanity, accepting suffering to the point of death. Jesus is one with the Father but is not himself the Father. The Holy Spirit is the love which overflows from this loving unity between Father and Son. The Spirit enables us to know Jesus and thus to know the Father.
Moreover, the Spirit lives within us, bringing us into union with this triune God. The Spirit gives us the gift of contemplation. Christian contemplation does not strive to leap across an infinite expanse to God, but rather makes room for Jesus to enter our hearts. And then, to love and act as God loves and acts.
This is awesome stuff. But without Jesus, we would know none of it. Jesus is the one source of revelation. He revealed God through his words and actions. He showed us that the way to live is to live in him. So, on Trinity Sunday, we preach Jesus. We preach that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Only through him we can enter divine life in the Trinity.
Glen Argan has spent more than 35 years writing and editing in Canada’s Catholic press and has two graduate degrees in theology. He is a former Interim Editor of Living with Christ.