SFX Bulletin, 15 June 2014: How are we to understand that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit - three Persons in one God?  What does this Trinitarian character of God mean?

In reflecting on this Solemnity, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, used analogy to explain this central mystery of the Christian faith.  To know the three Persons reveals to us that God is Love, “God is not something vague…but has a name: “God is love”. His is not a sentimental, emotional kind of love but the love of the Father who is the origin of all life, the love of the Son who dies on the Cross and is raised, the love of the Spirit who renews human beings and the world” (Angelus, 23 May 2013).

By this description, the Holy Father recalls the Trinitarian formula we all learnt in our Catechism classes that God is Creator, the Son is Redeemer and the Spirit is Sanctifier (cf. CCC.1).  It is also by this Trinitarian formula that we have all been baptized and by which we all sign ourselves before we enter the church – thereby reminding ourselves that we are loved by God and we desire to enter and worship because He loved us first even while we were still sinners (cf. 1 Jn.4:19; Rom.5:8).

With today’s information overload, the mysteries of our faith can easily come across as information albeit religious in content. 

We can be lulled into responding in a dismissive and casual manner as we tend to do when too much information is placed before us.  However, it is important for us to make continuing efforts to grasp the Trinitarian mystery.  It is called a mystery because the richness of its truths cannot be simply understood as we normally understand the things of this world.  However, when one devotes his mind, body and spirit deeply to prayer, study and meditation, one can begin to grasp in some way the ineffable God and “the means by which the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, reveals himself to men "and reconciles and unites with himself those who turn away from sin" (CCC.234).

We all need to pray for the courage of Nicodemus.  At the risk of being regarded as a “blasphemer” like Jesus by his fellow Pharisees,  Nicodemus sought out Jesus to clarify what he sensed to be the truths Jesus had been saying about God and man.  

In their conversation, Jesus directed Nicodemus to his upcoming death on the cross.  Jesus’ innocent death will be the clearest proof to counter any doubt about God’s love for a sinful world, “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son…” (v.16). In an unbelievably gracious way, God received Jesus’ death as a sacrificial offering from man.  Jesus, the perfect obedient man, by being nailed to the cross, became for all men “the universal and definitive redemption from sin” (CCC 432).
That is why Jesus told Nicodemus, “whoever refuses to believe is condemned already…” because the person who resists the promptings of the Spirit to know Christ and chooses to believe in his own power to save himself is proud and lying. 

Everything that man has – even his very life – comes from God.

As much as we all want to know more thoroughly the Trinity, it remains “a realm in which Christian theology must be more aware of its limits…only the humble admission of ignorance can be true knowledge and only wondering attendance before the incomprehensible mystery can be the right profession of faith in God.  Love is always mysterium…” (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, An Introduction to Christianity, p162).  “…humble admission of ignorance…” does not mean we do nothing.

Jesus directs us today to “believe in him” (v.16,18) – searching and meditating on Scripture, studying the Church Fathers and the ongoing elucidation from the Magisterium should help us better know and love Christ and in turn better know and love the Trinity who inspires us to be love as God is love.

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