Holy Trinity – C
Proverbs 8, 22-31; Psalm 8, 4-5.6-7.8-9; Romans 5, 1-5; John 16, 12-15
There’s an ancient story you have probably heard many times. It is so appropriate for the feast that we are celebrating today that I’d like to repeat it. Legend says that Saint Augustine of Hippo was walking along sandy seashore meditating on the Holy Trinity. All this genius was getting for his efforts was a severe headache. Finally he thought he was coming close to breaking the code of the mystery. He was about to shout, "Eureka!"
Suddenly at his feet was a boy of five. The bishop asked him what he was doing. The youngster replied, "I am pouring the whole ocean into this small hole." Augustine said, "That's nonsense. No one can do that." Unintimidated by the towering giant above him, the child replied, "Well, neither can you, Bishop Augustine, unravel the mystery of the Trinity." Then he disappeared.
Mystery is a term which seems to threaten us, to challenge our technological mind and scientific approach of reality. We are not able to recognize that something can or may be hidden to our minds that something can or may exceed the capacity of our understanding.
On the one hand, as human beings we want to understand, to find meaning in things and we should always try to go as far as we can in making sense of our faith. On the other hand, there are many things in life which are, and probably always will be, far beyond our understanding. (Recently, the famous scientist, cosmologist Stephen Hawking, said he had given up his dream of finding a single mathematical equation that would ultimately explain the existence of everything, the famous TOE. That does not mean we deny their truth or their existence. Even human life itself, even our own lives, our very identity as persons is something we never fully grasp. Does it mean that we are intimidated or that the reality doesn’t exist? There is some kind of boldness or rather pride, haughtiness and arrogance in the attitude of denying the possibility of mystery.
One hears it said sometimes that science has removed all the mysteries from life. Nothing could be further from the truth. The more that science discovers about our universe, whether at the atomic or galactic level, the more questions, the more mysteries emerge.
Life is full of mysteries, including the mystery of my own self and there is no need to be discouraged by that fact. If the material world can be such a mystery, it is hardly surprising that its Creator should not be an even greater mystery too.
Instead, then, of trying to indulge in theological acrobatics or worrying about orthodox formulations, let us instead try to enter into a relationship with these three Persons, through whom God is revealed to us. "The love of God," says Paul today in the Second Reading "has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us." That is what it is all about.
The mystery of the Trinity is more than an esoteric doctrine of faith. It is a model for the Christian lifestyle. We are called to be in the world, intimate, yet not of the world, transcendent.
It is important to be aware that when we say the Trinity is a mystery we are not saying that it is just an impenetrable puzzle, still less a contradiction in terms (3=1). The word "mystery" when used in the Christian Testament rather speaks of something that was previously unknown but is now revealed to and shared by a privileged group of people. The membership card to this privileged group is faith - faith in God as Father, faith in God as the Son whom he sent to us as Jesus Christ, and faith in God as the Spirit that teaches and guides us here and now.