Ever since World Youth Day 2002, my favourite Scripture passage has been the end of Matthew's Gospel: Matthew 28:16-20. I think it's because my middle name is Emmanuel. It means "God with us". I love that Jesus promises us that he will be with us until the end of time.
Today we celebrate a great feast, the solemnity of the most Holy Trinity. “Trinity” is a fancy word that means “three” – it refers to the reality that our God is one God, three persons.
It’s not three gods. He’s ONE God. It’s not three aspects of God, or three qualities of God: creator, redeemer, sanctifier... God is ONE God, THRE persons. One GOD, three PERSONS. It’s hard to understand.
That’s why we call it a mystery. But it’s not a mystery like a murder mystery, an Agatha Christie or Scooby Doo mystery that we have to solve. No, when the Church talks about mystery, it refers to something that is so amazing and so wonderful that it cannot be fully described in human terms. It cannot be fully understood. It can be partially understood, but never fully. And we use the word “mysteries” a lot. At Mass you’ll hear the priest speak of “these mysteries that we celebrate” – he also says, “the mystery of faith”. Next time you’re at Mass, pay attention to the many times we use the word during the Liturgy. We also pray the “mysteries of the Rosary”. In fact, the word in Greek for sacraments is “mysteries.” So we use that word a lot. And we have a few mysteries: The mystery of the Incarnation, the mystery of the Cross, the mystery of the Eucharist... The mystery of the Trinity is probably the hardest one to understand: ONE God; THREE persons. The Good News is that, while I don’t think that we have to understand it, we can understand it in part. Also, looking at the Trinity tells us something about the reality of God, about the nature of God, which in turn, because we are made in the image and likeness of God, tells us something about our nature as created human beings.
There are several ways in which God is described in Scripture. There are no words to describe God fully, but throughout scripture people use different images to describe God. Most often, God is described in terms of what he does: God is creator, God speaks out of a fire or God saves the nation of Israel. By showing what God has done, Scripture writers show how awesome God is. But God is not just a God who does. God is a being. God is not a doing. God is a being and because we are created in the image of God, it means that we are a being as well. We are not human doings, we are human beings. We are not defined by what we do or by what we are capable of doing; we get our dignity by who we are: created beings, in the image and likeness of God. But God is also not just a force of nature – THE FORCE from Star Wars – God is not a life force or energy, God is not a concept (despite what John Lennon says); God is a person. You can have a personal relationship with God. God is a person – and we too are persons. We are persons from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. No matter what you have done, no matter whether you are in a coma, or whether you suffer from an intellectual disability, whether you are conscious or not, you are a person. But God is not just A person; God is THREE persons.
This, to me makes perfect sense. Think about it: If God is love, then God can’t be alone. You can’t be love in solitude. If God is love, it makes sense that God is a relationship; a community of persons; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is a living, dynamic, loving, relationship, community of love between three persons who continually, eternally are outpouring themselves into each other and receiving the outpouring of each other into themselves. It sounds a bit new age, but it’s true. God is a community. God is relationship. And so, we too are called to relationship. We too are called to community. We too are called to love. God is not just a being, but a “being with”. And that means that we are created to “be with” each other and to “be with” God. That’s what COMMUNION means. And by virtue of our Baptism (Jesus says at the end of the Gospel of Matthew that we are to baptise “in the name of the Father and the son and the Holy Spirit”) we are baptised into the Trinity. That means that through our baptism we can enter into that loving, inner relationship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That means that we are no longer outside of God. – By virtue of our baptism we can participate INSIDE the life of the trinity – not outside, as slaves, but inside as sons and daughters.
And this is good news. And what a better example of this than when we come to the Eucharist. We receive Christ in Communion. But not just Christ, but the fullness of God: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In the Eucharist God comes to live inside of us and we are brought within God. He abides in us and we abide in Him. That’s pretty cool because it means that when we pray to God, we don’t pray to Him from the outside; we pray to God from the inside.
So when Jesus says (again, at the end of the Gospel of Matthew) that “I am with you always, to the end of the age”, he means it. He is God who is a “being with”. He is God who is “I Am”, God who is Emmanuel “with you” and God who is “always”. He is the Trinity. He is with us and we are with him; He is within us and we are within Him: The Father, Son and Holy Spirit, always, until the end of the age.
Every week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching: firstname.lastname@example.org