On Sunday we celebrate Trinity Sunday, in which we are reminded of the doctrine of the Trinity, that we believe God to be Three Persons in One God. It is a doctrine which is not so easy to understand, and so when we try to grapple with it, our default response is to say, “It’s a mystery.”
As I was reflecting on this, I thought to myself, “Why does that surprise us?” For me, the doctrine of the Trinity does not so much speak of theological concepts and philosophical definitions of the word “person,” as it speaks of love and relationships. The idea of Three Persons in One God denotes a Supreme Being of perfect relationship. And God, out of love, created the universe and revealed the Divine Self in the Son of God becoming one of us in Jesus Christ.
Have I lost you, yet? I’m about to get lost myself. But if we see God as a God of relationships, then it shouldn’t surprise us that we cannot fully understand or know God. Look at our own human relationships. There are people whom we love dearly. We know them well, and there might even be times when we say we know them better than they do themselves. But we cannot know them absolutely 100%, because they are ultimately distinct from us. But we love them, and we are in relationship with them. God chooses to be in relationship with us, and indeed, God does know us better than we know ourselves. And still, God loves us! In our first reading from Exodus (34:4b-6, 8-9), Moses asks God to accompany the people, even though they (and we) are “stiff-necked.” And God does!
The challenge of this day for me is the connection between love and relationship. Can I really love someone in the abstract, or do I need to be in some kind of relationship with him or her or them in order to love them? The reality of the Trinity seems to call for the latter. But then what does that mean when Jesus calls us to love our enemies, or love the “least of these,” or love the ones who cannot repay our love? Can we be in relationship with them?
Can we let ourselves be that vulnerable? I think we do when it comes to family or good friends. And again, the challenge may be to increasingly broaden the circle of relationships we have, even to those who are so different from us, in order to follow the commandment to love. One thing that might be helpful to remember is that God has been willing to be that vulnerable with us. How can I say that? God is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present. How can God be vulnerable? Is it not a willingness to be vulnerable when the Son of God becomes one of us in order to save us? Our Gospel reading (John 3:16-18) says it well: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” Is it not a willingness to be vulnerable when we are given free will and are thus free to turn our backs on God and ignore the Holy Spirit?
Are we willing to be vulnerable with God? Are we willing to surrender to God’s love and will? Are we willing to be in relationship with others? It can seem impossible, but we know there are people who do; the ones who can see the good in everyone, or who can make friends with just about anyone. I think (maybe hope is the better word) that this is true for even the quiet and shy ones among us.
This day invites us to enter into the mystery of love and relationships, trusting that God, who is love, will show us the way.
I welcome any comments or questions. Thanks for your time.
In the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,