The Trinity Matters

The Trinity Matters

Trinity Sunday

On this feast of the Blessed Trinity, I feel very much like St Elizabeth of the Trinity who at the end of her famous prayer (copies of which BTW are in the vestibule), mentions being “lost in the immensity”, “immersed in the abyss” of God. It’s difficult to know what to say and even where to start. The mind is bewildered, the tongue hesitant. How can we speak worthily of God, of the infinite, eternal, self-subsistent Being? Is it even possible. Well yes, as long as we remain within the framework of what God Himself has revealed to us and conscious that whatever we might say is far from exhausting the subject matter. It is very much like baby talk. We stammer, having little bits of the truth, faint sparks of the blinding light. And yet we know that even if the full truth is much greater than we can assimilate, the bits that we do have are true; they convey a reality that God Himself has confirmed.

What then shall we say of the Trinity? Today perhaps let’s try to offer some considerations on the unity of the Trinity and on the consequences for our world. In the Old Testament, God is very adamant about a number of things, but the most important is that which is conveyed in the first commandment: There is only one God, and that God is one. Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord (Dt 6:4), proclaims Moses to the people. Whereas the other peoples worshipped multiple gods, Israel worshipped the one and only God. There is no God but the Lord was the battlecry that the prophet Elijah would raise in his day when the people were apostatising and going off to worship false gods. In the face of the destructive tendency to put other gods, who in reality were demons, on the pedestal with the true God, it was essential that God’s chosen people bear witness before the world that there is and there can only be one true God.

God, however, is ineffable. He has secrets about Himself that no one could have every known if He had not revealed it. And the greatest of those secrets regards His inner life. In the Old Testament, God was revealed as being merciful. He looks down upon the frailty of the creatures He has made and offers them His forgiveness and salvation. A remnant of this truth is even found in Islam. The New Testament however goes further. When St John writes in his first epistle: O Theos agape estin – Deus caritas est – God is love – He is revealing something far greater than that the eternal God looks down with mercy on creatures. He is revealing that, in Himself, God is love. Now, for God to be love, this of necessity implies a multiplicity of persons, for love can only exist between at least two persons.

And there we have really the greatest and most fundamental truth of our faith upon which all others are based. In Himself God is love. What does that mean? It means that God is not locked up in Himself as in a tower of ivory, oblivious to all that happens elsewhere. That is actually the very essence of sin and turning away from God and the good, by locking oneself up in oneself – it is egotism, which leads to sadness, despair and self-destruction. It is the path that Lucifer took and that he inspires others to take, many, alas, taking the bait, and precipitating themselves towards infernal hate and eternal misery.

Our God is love. That means that whenever someone makes an effort to get out of self, to look out of self, to look towards the other – whoever that other may be – that person is already on the way to God. Our God is love. That means that He seeks to draw all His creatures into the unity of that love, for love seeks to share what it has with the object loved. God is love. That means that all things are produced by and for His love, and they can only find rest when they in turn learn to love. God is love. That means that when you are on the side of God you can never write anyone off for good, the path of return always remains open as long as they do not lock themselves up definitively in their wretchedness and throw the key away. God is love. That means that any effort to share with others any good that we have – be it a spiritual good or a material good – is already being on the road that leads to God and to becoming God-like.

So we can see now why the Trinity is so important. Belief in the Trinity or refusal to believe inspires two very different ways of looking at the world. When you believe that not only did God reach out to us, create us and give us a chance to know Him, but that in Himself, in His inner life He is communion of persons, then it is no longer possible, without being incoherent, to pretend that we do not need others, or that others may not have some very important things to teach us. God Himself is communion of life and love, and when you are baptised you are stamped with the seal of a God who offers Himself. That is why the Church Our Lord founded is essentially a communion of persons, whose unity takes it foundation in the very unity of the Trinity.

But the multiplicity of Divine Persons in the Trinity and their Unity also has other consequences regarding us that are most relevant for today. In the Trinity the roles are not interchangeable. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are unique in their Personhood, in their mutual relations and in their roles. Things exist a certain way and not otherwise. Humans are created in the image and likeness of God through their threefold faculty of memory, intellect and will. St Catherine of Sienna ascribes memory to the Father, intellect to the Son and will to the Holy Spirit. That is the fundamental image of God in the human person. But in man as a material creature there is also a trace of this image of God. The complementary of the sexes which leads to the creation of new life is a faint image of the Trinity, for the love of Father and Son spirate the Holy Spirit. The roles are not interchangeable.

This is why the great confusion being created at the moment about gender is not only devastating for persons, but it is ultimately a rejection of the Triune God. It is no more possible for male and female to be interchangeable than it is for Father and Son to be interchangeable. To attempt to change genders is to attempt to change God, it is to put oneself in the place of God. This is why Pope Benedict XVI once said that gender ideology is the ultimate rebellion against God the Creator and why the question of gender is primarily a religious question, one in which the Church’s say is vital and essential. To allow a person to alter their gender is to profane the true and triune God. To accept one’s gender from the hand of God is to receive the gift of God with gratitude, and with the certitude that through it we will come to know God Himself as we are, man or woman, literally carved by the all-loving hand of God.

So we see how this feast of the Trinity is also the opportunity to pray for all those who are confused by the ambient lies and to do all that is in our power to help anyone who is in that situation to accept the reality of who they are. God is not a bad craftsman. There are wounds in our nature, due not to God but to sin, but God the Father has sent His Son and the Holy Spirit precisely to heal those wounds and lead us to find peace in Him.

St Augustine wrote: Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in Thee. Let us ask the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the human heart of God Himself, to come and heal our broken world, to heal minds, bodies and peoples by leading them to Himself, for God is love and whoever abides in love, abides in God (1 Jn 4:16).