Making sense of the Trinity

Trinity Sunday, Year B 30 May 2021

Today we celebrate that God comes to us, communicates with us, and relates to us in three distinct ways as three distinct persons. It is no accident that we celebrate Trinity Sunday at this particular point in the liturgical year — after Easter, Ascension and Pentecost — because it was through those events that the disciples realised that God is a Trinity of three divine persons, and yet only one God.

This deep conviction that God exists in three persons emerged in those Easter events. It is a conviction that has confounded Christians ever since: how to express this and how to make sense of it. Even St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas wrestled with this complexity.

Artists and icon writers have depicted the Three in various ways: as three angels, as three human-like figures, and two men (a Father and Son) with a dove (representing the Holy Spirit who descended like a dove at Jesus’ baptism). Just as no words can express this ineffable mystery, neither can it be adequately expressed through any visual image.

What is reassuring and invigorating for our faith today is that our forebears among the early Christians, as well as many saints and mystics throughout the ages, have been keenly attuned to this great mystery. They recognised that these Three, who from the very earliest of days were called Father, Son and Holy Spirit, coexist as equals in the one God, and that this is the three-personned love in which we, and indeed all creation, live and move and have our being.

We, each and every one of us, like the early disciples and the saints and mystics, are invited into that three-personned love, into relationship with these Three. Our prayer today is that we, individually and together, might enter ever more deeply into this mystery of God’s love, and allow it to enter into us, and to work in us. This indeed is grace: it is God, the Trinity, abiding in us and transforming us ever more closely into God’s image. Little by little, we then come to see, understand and love the world and all the people in it – if but dimly – as God sees, understands and loves it. That is in fact what we glimpse in the lives of holy people, and that is what is promised to each and every one of us.

And little by little, we take up the challenge which the mystery of the Trinity offers to us in our daily lives. The challenge is to be whole-hearted in our hospitality and concern and compassion for others, to be welcoming to the stranger, the lost, the lonely, the wounded, the asylum seeker, the refugee, and to respond generously and sensitively to their needs. It is in those concrete ways that we live true to our faith in God who is Trinity.

Anne Hunt

© Majellan Media 2021