June 10, 2022

Christ the Cornerstone

The Trinity reveals the mystery of God’s love

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson

One of the great paradoxes of our Christian faith is the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, whose solemnity we celebrate this Sunday, June 12. We are accustomed to thinking of the Trinity as a mystery, and rightly so. But the paradox of this great mystery is that rather than confusing us, it is meant to be a teaching that both reveals who God is and helps us better understand how God relates to us.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “We worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity, without either confusing the persons or dividing the substance; for the person of the Father is one, the Son’s is another, the Holy Spirit’s another; but the Godhead of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal [Athanasian Creed]” (#266). This classic definition of the Holy Trinity states the fundamental Christian belief that God is three-in-one, but because it is a mystery we cannot help but ask what this divine diversity in unity means for us.

The simple, one-word explanation is love. It is the love of the Father that begets the Son, and that same divine love that unites the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. God’s love unites; it never divides. God’s love creates the universe and all it contains. This same divine love redeems our fallen humanity and sanctifies (makes holy) all of creation in Christ. God’s love heals and restores creation. It never demolishes or disintegrates what is meant to be good.

As we read in the catechism, “The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of the Christian faith and of Christian life. God alone can make it known to us by revealing himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit” (#261). Love is at the heart of this mystery, and the love that is expressed by the Father in and through the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit, is what makes this great mystery known to us.

Love is who God is. Love is also how God relates to himself and to everything God has made—both visible and invisible. When we encounter God’s love, which is pure and holy, there is no need to wonder why God sent his only Son to redeem us from our sins—or why the Holy Spirit has come among us to transform us from weak, fearful people to bold, courageous witnesses to the three persons in one God. Divine love is astonishing in its simplicity and unselfishness. It helps us see things in a new light and understand truths that used to baffle us.

Whenever we witness the sacrifices that parents make for their children, we gain an insight into the kind of love that binds the three persons of the Holy Trinity into one God. Whenever we see first responders head into situations of danger that others are understandably fleeing from, we witness the kind of love that prompted the Father to send the Son to save us from our sins. And whenever we observe miracles of healing—whether physical, emotional or spiritual—that are performed by medical professionals, counselors or religious leaders, we encounter the grace of the Holy Spirit at work in our world. All of these examples reveal God’s love in action, working to overcome the manifestations of sin and evil that are all around us.

As we read in the Gospel for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity:

“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. 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” (Jn 16:12-15).

The Trinitarian mystery is beyond our understanding. “You cannot bear it now” (Jn 16:12), Jesus says. But the more we open our minds and hearts to the reality of God’s love, and the more we ourselves become gracious, loving and merciful people, the more we come to a fuller appreciation of who God is and how God relates to us.

Love is the key to understanding the mystery of three persons in one God. The more loving we are, the more God-like we are, and the more we can understand who God is and how much God loves us.

Have a blessed Trinity Sunday. †

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