The Most Holy Trinity

God is Triune

The eleven  disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Mt 28,16-20

In a summer afternoon, a few years ago, while I was talking with some grandchildren about polytheistic and monotheistic religions, one of them asked me of a sudden “Grandpa, are we sure that our religion is monotheistic, since God is made up by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit?”. I must confess that this is the most difficult question that I have ever been asked. However, since I could not give an answer, I put together some memories of theology with some reflections on the subject that I had long since started, and, while discussing about it with them, we have drawn some considerations, to which I have had very little to add ever since. The truth of the Kingdom of Heaven that makes up the foundation of our faith descends from what Jesus Christ has revealed to us and from the reflections that the Church has subsequently developed over the centuries. The most impenetrable truth is the concept of Trinity, of how God is both One and Three at the same time. Faced with this mystery, S. Augustine also had to surrender. However, the early Church proclaimed the mystery that God is Triune at the Council of Constantinople (381 AD), after beginning to discuss it during the previous Council of Nicaea (325 AD). In those councils, the reflections stemmed from the fact that Jesus Christ, as the Son of God, always talked about the Father and the Holy Spirit and always said that God is love (1Jn 4,16). We also try and make up an idea of the Trinity starting from this truth. If God is love, love cannot be a fixed and stagnant reality, it must continually circulate between Father and Son, as told in the Gospels. Moreover, as it also happens in human relationships, the bigger the love that unites people is, the more they are united. As the love which unites Father and Son is endless, they are a single reality and the very love, being infinite, becomes divine substance in God thus making up the third person: the Holy Spirit. Once we make ours the truth of faith that God is Triune, then we have the key to the mystery of creation and the one of the history of salvation; we can as well cast a brighter light on the reality of our faith and also on the reality of our family. These are further bricks which allow us to build in ourselves the mystery of the Trinity and God. Let’s see them. The whole creation bears the imprint that God is Triune. We live in a three-dimensional space and time in which we are immersed is divided into past, present and future are three kingdoms in nature: animal, vegetable and mineral; the matter aggregation states are three: solid, liquid and gaseous; the building blocks of the atoms, which are the building blocks of the universe, are three: electrons, neutrons and protons, and we could go on and on. The history of salvation shows a Trinitarian God at work. In the Old Testament, God reveals himself primarily as Father and as he works, through the voice of the prophets, he announces the coming of the Son. in the Gospels, God reveals himself and operates in the Son, announcing the future coming of the Holy Spirit. Finally, in the time of the Church, God works in the person of the Holy Spirit. In the liturgy of the Church, the Creed and the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist has a Trinitarian structure. And finally, the family has a trinitarian structure: “God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them” (Gn 1,27). We believe that we can gradually make up an idea of the Trinitarian God in ourselves with these simple considerations, without trying to prove anything. Eventually, though, it will always be a truth of personal faith: we need to give up the solid ground of reasoning to throw ourselves towards God with a “saltum fidei,” as suggested by the medieval mystics.

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