As a church, we resist going beyond the Easter season. So, after 50 days of hallelujah extravaganza, we highlight two mega mysteries before we admit that Sunday can be “Ordinary Time.” Although quite vague about our precise theology, all Christians proclaim that God is a Trinity and Catholics in particular insist on the “real presence” of Christ in the Eucharist. These are the themes of the feast days that bring us out of our 50 days of Easter.
Our Trinity celebration invites us to take time to contemplate what God is and what it means to us. We affirm that God is a Trinity of being: three persons who are one God, a uniquely Christian belief that sounds like blasphemy to some world religions and nonsense to others. Saint Patrick and the shamrock aside, the only way to approach this idea is to contemplate it as a mystery. It means thinking about it with an attitude that delights in awe and lets go of the need for clear answers. The Trinitarian being of God is a mystery in the deepest sense of the word, a reality that fascinates us, draws us to God, too deep for our thought and prayer to exhaust.
If we had to choose background music to accompany our first reading, I would suggest “Appalachian Spring” by Aaron Copeland. We could all do well spending 27 minutes letting this music inspire our imaginations of the Lady Wisdom portrayed in Proverbs. In the slow, quiet beginning of the music, we can hear whispers alluding to the presence of “poured out” God’s wisdom of yore. In the “allegros” we can imagine her delighting God as she dances across the face of the earth. Music, like reading, invites us to consider the divine joy that has permeated creation from the beginning until today.
It was not a big step for the early Christians to connect the figure of Lady Wisdom with the Jesus who had walked among them, been executed and returned to them transfigured in the resurrection. They knew by experience that he had made God present to them as no one had ever done. When their hearts burned listening to him, it was easy to conceive of him as the one who said: “I have always been spread. When they experienced the things of which Paul speaks – peace with God, pride in hope, the love of God poured out in their hearts – each of these experiences transported them into the realm of what they could not whom to name as the Holy Spirit which had been given to them. . Gradually they began to develop a new understanding of God as present to them in three unique personal ways.
The Gospel of John, written 60 or more years after the resurrection, is the result of decades of faith-filled reflection on the life and teaching of Jesus. More than any other evangelist, John portrayed Jesus’ intimate fellowship with God whom he called Father. John also explained how Jesus’ relationship with the Father could not be separated from his promise that his followers are able to share that same relationship with him and the Father through the Spirit.
With this we begin to see what the triune being of God has to do with us. As theologian Catherine LaCugna described 30 years ago in God for uswhen we contemplate God as Trinity, we see God as Father, Son and Spirit creating, incarnating and pouring into us so that they can draw all creation into divine life.
This, like the explanations of theologians such as Saint Basil the Great, Thomas Aquinas or Karl Rahner, may seem too complicated for most mortals on a Sunday morning. Put simply, Christians believe that God is, as LaCugna taught, a God whose very being is communal love and who created in order to share that love. This means that we who are created in the image of God are created to find our greatest fulfillment as images of the Trinity: to enjoy relationships with one another, with God, and with all of God’s creation.
When we realize this, we understand that the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity summarizes all that we celebrated during the 50 days of Easter. If you have to explain it to a child, teach him the sign of the cross and tell him it means God loves us in more ways than we can count.