The Holy Trinity
May the Love of the Lord Jesus the Christ, and the Love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Corinthians 13:14
This greeting from Paul to the faithful in Corinth is timely because our celebration of the birth of Jesus has reminded us that God’s nature is not singular. The greeting references the three-fold nature of God, and Paul’s words capture the wonder of the mystery of the Holy Trinity.
When Jesus was incarnated Paul clarified the divinity of Jesus in his letter to the Corinthians: For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives. Corinthians 2:9
John recorded these words of Jesus: I will ask the Father who will give you another advocate to help you and be with your forever – the Spirit of Truth who the world cannot accept because it cannot see or know the Spirit, but you will know because the Spirit lives with you and will be in you. the Spirit of Truth will come to you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. John 14:16-17
And so we have the three, but not three Gods, only one God, and that is the triune mystery.
The number three has a special significance in human social interactions. We know that when a third party intervenes to enhance communication between two parties the 3-way interaction improves the overall relationship. Hence we have translators and intermediaries and lawyers and counselors in our human context. But those interactions offer just a faint glimpse of the perfection of the three-fold nature of the interaction between God the Creator, Jesus the Saviour, and the Holy Spirit the Truth. We are understandably limited in our ability to appreciate it fully, but we are conceptually able to do so in Faith. The essence of the mystery is in the word relationship, and that relationship is LOVE. God is Love, and the Divine Love flows from one to the other of the three then radiates outward to all creation, and specifically in our human context, to those who have ears to hear, eyes to see, and hearts to embrace it. God is Love, Jesus was born out of that Love, and the Holy Spirit was gifted to us in that Love, three Divine elements distinct but one and the same. Maybe the Beatles had some insight with their triple reference in one of their very popular songs: Love, Love, Love . . .all you need is Love.
The oneness can boggle our minds because it highlights the limits of our understanding of time, of space, and of form and it justifies why we don’t generally focus on this mystery in a serious way even though it is at the core of our very nature as Christians. It may be helpful to think of a circle. Circles have been long-recognized as the perfect geometrical shapes, so perhaps a spinning spherical light glowing in three different but integrated colours might be as close as we can come to an image of the Trinity radiating and continually energizing all of creation. It is much easier for us to focus on just one dimension of God rather than on three, and so for many it is on God as father, or on Jesus as Saviour, or on the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete; but Jesus Himself told us about the Divine oneness and the fullness of all three. Go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Mathew 3:16-17. His disciples had the challenging task of promulgating this core element of our Faith, and we still face that challenge in our time.
We have solid support in pursuing this challenge from the scriptures and from learned philosophers, theologians and spiritual writers who through the centuries and in contemporary times have pondered this mystery and attempted to articulate a meaningful understanding of it. If you are interested in delving into such writings you know what they say . . . just Google it.
Take some time to contemplate the nature of the Trinity without getting overwhelmed by the complexity of it. We have to recognize that while it is beyond our complete understanding it is at the centre of our spiritual lives and of our personal relationships with God. We are all born of God, baptized in the name of Jesus, and live our lives with the guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Love, Love, Love . . . Holy. Holy, Holy!