Closing the Circle
Holy Trinity Sunday, May 26, 2013 (HolyTrinityC)
By Fr. John Foley, S. J.
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“Why do we have to hear all this stuff about the Trinity?”
I was giving a talk and this question darted forth from a gentleman in the audience. He continued, “Why can’t we just go to church and be good to each other.”
Because, I said.
Because the Triune God is not some kind of brainy speculation by scholars. It is simply the way we experience God in this world. Christian living is the Trinity in action.
Let me explain.
First, long ago human beings learned that there is only one God, and that he “takes delight in the human race.” Think of the many, many stories in the First Testament about God’s pursuit of us, his laboring to make a loving and holy covenant with us: “I will be your God and you will be my people.” Like a marriage agreement.
God became, by turns, angry, hurt, delighted, spurned, glorified, ignored, praised and rejected. Yet he kept coming back and back to renew the covenant. God's love is steadfast.
Then we found out that God’s nature has another component. God had not been alone or lonely, like a rock in the desert. His very nature has always been to relate to others, to “pour himself forth,” as the First Reading puts it, and to receive back. The “Second Person” is at one with “the First Person” for all eternity.
The Word was made flesh. Jesus laughed and cried and preached and turned over tables and cured people, and was loyal to his friends even to the end. “Everything that the Father has is mine,” he said (Gospel). That’s how we knew he was The Word and the Word was God.
Then came a final revelation about the Trinity. Jesus hints about it in the Gospel: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.” In other words, our small souls would burst with the greatness of God—unless part of God gentled himself down and began to dwell within us, to guide our understanding. So Jesus promised to pour out the Holy Spirit into us.
Jesus tells us that the Spirit is God (and himself too). “Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”
Do you get the logic? Everything the Father has belongs to the Word. Everything that Jesus the Word has belongs to the Spirit. Thus, the Spirit is the third part of God, and it bestows the whole earth back upon the Father, closing the circle.
What aliveness, what movement there is in God: speaking, reaching out, flowing forth, receiving back. God is like liquid motion, like a dynamism in which everything is changing always, yet remains always secure because it is rooted in love—it is love. We are invited into that circle of love.
Too theoretical? Allow me to put it more simply. Do you suffer? God invites you meld that pain into the Trinity’s unending love. Do you lack hope? The Christ who rose from death is within you. Are you abandoned? Remember that the one God in three persons embraces you with tender affection and asks you to melt into his arms.