Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Blessed Trinity

(Trinity Sunday, B)

When it comes to our reflection upon and appreciation of the Blessed Trinity, so many times we give up so fast! We say, ‘Who can understand it?’ People like to say, ‘Well, it’s a mystery.’ That much is true. The Blessed Trinity is a mystery. In fact it is the Mystery. But though we can never comprehend this Mystery completely, this doesn’t mean we can never have some appreciation and understanding of what it means.

Even in theological school people give up on having a practical understanding of the Blessed Trinity. Every seminary student is taught the old ‘5,4,3,2,1,’ mnemonic for remembering trinitarian doctrine: In the Trinity there are five notions, four relations, three persons, two processions, one nature, and then, as is always added in comedic desperation, zero understanding.

It’s funny, but to me it’s a little sad. Let’s not give up on having some understanding of the Trinity! We can, brothers and sisters, come to an appreciation of Who the Blessed Trinity is and what He means for us. Not a grasp, a comprehension, mind you, but an appreciation. We can do this for at least for a couple of reasons. First, we are created in the image and likeness of God, so if God is a Trinity, so we can look for the image and likeness of the Blessed Trinity in ourselves. That’s the approach I took last year with the homily for today. But also, we must always remember that Sacred Scripture is the revealed Word of God. So if God is a Trinity, we can expect the Sacred Scriptures to reveal the Blessed Trinity. And so they do, but we have to look carefully.

In the first reading from the book of Deuteronomy, Moses recalls to the people their great privilege of having God reveal Himself to them: “Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of a fire, as you did, and live?” How was God revealed to the people? God was in the voice and the fire. You recall the powerful scene from the book of Exodus that the Scriptures point to here, when God spoke to Moses in the burning bush. This is one of the most complete revelations of the Blessed Trinity in all of the Scriptures. For we believe that God is a superabundant love, and from all eternity God overflows into a perfect expression of Himself that we call the Word or the Son. The Word is ‘begotten, not made” as we pray in the Creed. This is the second person of the Blessed Trinity, the Word that is spoken from the burning bush, the Word through whom God creates the universe—“God said…and so it happened”—and the Word that became flesh in Jesus Christ.

The fire out of which the Word was spoken, the breath of God that carries the Word, this is Who we call the Holy Spirit. So there you have the Blessed Trinity. A dynamic overflowing of Love in which from all eternity there is Lover, Beloved, and the Love that binds them. But even in this, we haven’t reached the fullness of the good news and wonder for us.

Because God is a set of dynamic relationships—indeed, this is what we confess by our belief in the Blessed Trinity—this means that there is a way into God. Just as the love of husband and wife overflows creatively to include the new life of children, so in the human birth of Christ, the dynamic love of the Blessed Trinity expands to include us. This is what St. Paul is talking about in the second reading when he talks about “the Spirit of adoption.” By our baptism into Christ, by our faith, and by our communion with his humanity here at Mass, our lives are folded into the blessed life of the Trinity. We become daughters and sons in the Son.

With that in mind, think back to the burning bush for a moment. Recall what was amazing about the burning bush, that it was not consumed by the fire. And so it is with our adoption by the Holy Spirit into the Love of the Father and the Son. The life of the Blessed Trinity comes to dwell in us in such a way that it does not consume or displace our humanity. The gift and good news we have in Christ is that the dynamic Mystery of Love we call God has come to include us in its own life, in such a way that the Love of God delights to live in us as our love for each other.

1 comment:

pennyante said...

I am also reminded of the verse in Romans which describes the Holy Spirit as helper. When we do not know how to pray as we ought, the Spirit itself expresses the words to the one who knows hearts...

It is a comforting thought...