Wrestling with the Mystery of the Trinity

Sunday Reflection for the Feast of the Blessed Trinity

Readings:  Dt 4:32-34, 39-40; Rom 8:14-17; Mt 28:16-20

In the Book of Genesis 32:22-32 we are told how Jacob wrestles with God (in the person of an unknown man) whole night until daybreak at the bank of river Jabbok in a place later called Peniel. In the similar way human mind has been wrestling with the understanding of God. Who is God for us? How is he? We question and try to understand and comprehend God. But, we have never been able to understand God completely. God is incomprehensible. He is a mystery. Yet, this mystery is not completely unknown to us. It is by his Grace we have revelation of God. God reveals Himself and we continually respond to this revelation and try to understand God as per our human capability.

The Bible is a collection of books written by human hands but divinely authored and inspired by God Himself. Therefore, it contains the revelation of God. Human beings have wrestled with God in their understanding of God. In the Bible we have the accounts of how Hebrews had their breakthrough in their understanding of God from Polytheistic to Monotheistic. In the Second Testament, we have revelation of God in the very person of Jesus Christ. There is a gradual shift in the understanding of God from Polytheism to Monothesim. We, Christians, believe in Monotheism. But, there too, we have the Trinitarian understanding of God, viz., three Divine Persons in One God. Down the centuries, in the history of the Church, there has been constant ‘wrestling’ with the understating of this Trinitarian God. Presently we believe and hold the Mystery of Blessed Trinity – In One Godhead, there are three Divine persons, viz., The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.  How? All of us are not theologians, like Augustine, Athnasius, Tartullian, and all. How do we understand this mystery of the blessed Trinity?

Well, the Church supplies. Today, on the feast of day of the Blessed Trinity, the holy mother Church provides an opportunity to ‘wrestle’ with our understanding of God. It is a good day to reflect on the mystery of the Blessed Trinity.  In the First reading from the book of Deuteronomy we hear how Moses commanded Israelite for obedience to the Lord God. He demanded Israelite to acknowledge that the Lord is their God and there is no other God besides Him.  In the second reading from Rom 8:14-17 we heard St. Paul speaking to the Romans about the life in the Spirit. He explained how, when we live our lives by the Spirit of God, we become children of God. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God. In the gospel reading today from Mathew 28:18-20 we hear Jesus giving the disciples His great commission- a commission of making disciples, of baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and of teaching them to obey his commandments.

Thus, the readings of the day present to us a glimpse of the Trinity. In the first reading we have been presented a strict monotheistic notion of God, viz. The Lord is God, there is no other God but Him.  This is the first Divine Person of the Trinity. Of course, in the gospel reading we have had resurrected Jesus before us and giving us the great commission. Jesus, the second person of the Trinity,  is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit. We must notice, what Jesus says in his great commission, viz., baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. In the second reading we have been told of the Spirit of God, the third person of the Trinity. Last Sunday we celebrated the feast of Pentecost and we were told how the Spirit of God dwells in us. It is by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit we become the children of God. So, readings of the day unfold for us the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity, which is actually based on God’s revelation who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; that there are three Divine Persons in One Godhead.

Now, if we continue wrestling a bit more with the mystery of the Trinity, then perhaps we will get a blessing of a message for our practical lives. The doctrine of the Trinity teaches two important points. First, Trinity in Unity, i.e. Three in One; that there is Distinction among the three Divine Persons. God the Father is not the Son, nor the Holy Spirit; The Son is neither the Father nor the Holy Spirit. So also Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son. Every Divine Person is unique. Second, Unity in Trinity, i.e., Oneness in Trinity; that is, there is distinction among the three Divine Persons, yet, they are one; they are united; there is perfect unity among them. How is this oneness of the Trinitarian God unfolded? One of the ways this is explained is by arguing the mutual indwelling of the Divine Persons. This means that the divine persons are present to each other on the ground of common nature, relations, and origin. That is to say that they have mutual inhabitation and participation in all perfections. This God is the God of relationship.

Huh! It is very hard to understand, isn’t it? Night and day we might wrestle with the understanding of the Trinity, but I think  at the end, we surrender and say that the Trinitarian mystery consists in the essential incomprehensibility of God. By reason we cannot fathom this mystery but by leap of our faith we can ascend and transcend to this mystery and share in this divine life by abiding in the message it gives us today. The feast of the Blessed Trinity calls forth to take home an important message, viz., the message of unity. The message that is unfolded for us today is that when we live in unity and with integrity within oneself, in our families, in our communities, in our countries and in our world at large, we actually share in the divine life; we share in the life of the Trinitarian God. Union of hearts and minds is the call of the time. Unity in diversity, hope amidst hopelessness, joy and peace amidst violence and strife is what the feast of the Blessed Trinity challenges us to strive for.

In our world broken with greed and pride, how can we all become children of God? How can we establish a just and humane society in the world? I think we need not only the blessing but also the lesson from the blessed Trinity. The lesson that we must learn from the Trinitarian God is the lesson of mutual indwelling, lesson of inhabitation and the lesson of relationality. This is what we must wrestle with instead of wrestling with the understanding of Trinitarian God.

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