Musings on the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity

The feast of the Blessed Trinity comes as the grand epilogue to the season of Eastertide. This is the deepest and greatest of all the mysteries consuming all the mysteries of our faith including our own destiny expressed in Christ’s profound prayer to the Father during the last Supper with his disciples the night before he died.

"I pray not only for these but also for those who through their teaching will come to believe in me. May they all be one, just as, Father, you are in me and I am in you, so that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me." Jn.17:20-21


Some would maintain that we should just accept the mysteries as taught and not try to explore them deeper. I believe that God expects and desires us to probe, reflect and ponder on them and has gifted us with and powers to do this. So let us start our musings at the very beginning; the very beginning of the Bible
.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Genesis 1:3-4

In these words we find the first hint of God as Trinity, involved in the creation of the world. We have the Creator God, the Word of God speaking the words “Let there be light,” and the Spirit hovering over all that was to be.
In the great cosmic plan it would appear that planet earth was slowly prepared for the advent of humanity and as a species we are gifted with memory, understanding and will. It is through these gifts that God desires we come to know, love and serve him ever more deeply.

Yet sadly, from the beginning, the human race has been engaged in an epic battle to win supremacy over God. This is laughable, in one sense, but patently obvious in what is happening in our world today, what has happened in world history and what happens daily in the depths of our own hearts.

We could be depressed, but that would be a failure in faith, hope and love. The God who created the world is in charge of the world. God exists in the “eternal now” while we struggle in an evolutionary world, second by second, day by day, and year by year. Since that moment of Creation, estimated by scientists as close to 14 billion years ago, the Holy Trinity has been present, active and watchful. He has never given up on us, his wayward people.

Let us now trace and ponder a few examples of God’s omnipresence and actions as recorded in the pages of the Bible. Through the prophet Samuel we get the first hint of God’s long term strategy (humanly speaking).Samuel speaks the Word of God to David:

When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me”.
2S 7:12-14
The Prophet continues: Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever. 2S:7:16

Here God names Himself Father. His relationship with Jewish race and that promise to them is kept alive and becomes more specific in later times through the Prophet Isaiah:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Is 7:14
“For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Is 9:6


The notion of a promised King, Saviour or Messiah became deeply rooted in the Jewish psyche, though the understanding and expectation of his role or work varied dramatically. Spiritual people in the mode of Simeon and Anna would be much more in touch with the deeper truth of their Scriptures than the Scribes and Pharisees of Jesus time.

Throughout the centuries of waiting the Spirit of God was present and at work to guide, instruct fortify and admonish his chosen people. The following passages reflect something of this presence:

Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the Lord had commanded Moses. Deuteronomy 34:9
You gave your good spirit to instruct them, and did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and gave them water for their thirst. Ne 9:20
“The spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” Job 33:4
“I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.” Ez.36:27
“I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.” Joel 2:28

The psalms are also a great source to fathom something of the mystery of God’s presence through the Holy Spirit in Old Testament times.

“When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground.” Psalm 104:30
“Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.” Ps 139:7-8
“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. Let your good spirit lead me on a level path.” Ps 143:10

 However, it is in the New Testament that the Mystery of the Holy Trinity is most fully revealed. The Angel Gabriel answering Mary’s question ‘how can this be?’ states:
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.”

The angel’s words makes clear that the Incarnation of Jesus is the work of the Godhead: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Now we begin to see the fulfilment of these early prophesies and the presence and power of the Holy Trinity at work. While in the Old Testament the ‘Spirit’ seemed to be the primary worker. Now we focus on the work of the Son, the Word made Flesh, Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus begins the work for which he was sent by the Father. First he joins the queue of sinners and is baptised by John in the river Jordon. During this symbolic act Jesus takes on the sins of the world and receives the full endorsement of the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Thee Persons are at one in the work of our redemption.

“ As soon as Jesus was baptised, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16-17
After his baptism Jesus went straight to the desert for forty days to pray and fast to prepare for his work. He took on our humanity so completely that the devil had power to tempt him.
 
Returning from the desert, Jesus went immediately into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God’s reign. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mk1:14

The call to repentance and faith in God, who sent him, was his central message. He travelled around the country with his disciples. His ministry was filled with sublime teaching, unforgettable parables, spectacular miracles and dire warnings. In the Sermon on the Mount culminating in the Beatitudes he paints a picture of what life would have been if there had been no ‘Fall.’ He inspired faith by many miracles but mostly by a love that was so palpable that it drew people to him. In the last weeks of his public life he concentrated on his Apostles, preparing them for his passion and death which would restore a right relationship between God and his creation. He spoke also of his resurrection after three days and his return to the Father and promising them he would send them ‘power from on high’ to carry on the work he had begun. To further encourage and convince them he led them up a mountain and was transfigured before them and visited by Moses and Elijah and once more God the Father testified to him.

“While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.’

Nonetheless the apostles were devastated by his passion and death and very slow to believe that he had truly risen from the dead. It was not until the dramatic experience of that first ‘Pentecost Day’ that they finally understood who Jesus was and about the Kingdom he had come to restore. They understood too their own mission to carry on Jesus’ work of proclaiming the kingdom and instilling faith in Jesus as Son of God sent by the Father - the promised Messiah.

The decent of the Holy Spirit in the form of Tongues of Flame transformed the apostles and disciples into fearless missionaries for Christ. The Acts of the Apostles makes fascinating and inspiring reading. Now filled with the Spirit they proclaimed with deep understanding and courage all the teachings of Jesus. The age of God the Holy Spirit had come, and remains active to this day in so far as we accept and believe in his presence.
So where are we today? To answer that, perhaps, we need to ask a few rhetorical questions. Again we start at the very beginning.

When God created us humans, did he underestimate the risk of gifting us with ‘Free Will?
Did he not realise that the lure of power, of wealth, and ambitious dreams, etc. would be too strong for humankind to resist?
Was the redemption through the life, death and resurrection Christ a damage limitation exercise? 

 
The answer to these questions of course is a definite NO. The all seeing, all knowing God of the ‘eternal now’ knew all that would come to pass and knows too the ultimate ending.

Perhaps we can find inspiration from St. Paul’s insightful words instructing us that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us. He speaks of ‘the hope that creation itself would be set free from its slavery to decay.’ Rom 8:21

A further insight from St. Paul leads us back to reflect again on God’s great cosmic plan
“From the beginning till now the entire creation as we know it has been groaning in one great act of giving birth.” Rom 8:22
As the earth to evolve with human kind now part of that labour, Jesuit mystic and scientist Teilhard de Chardin has proposed theories for the end plan. He claims “
“Since the birth of thought man has been the leading shoot of the tree of life.” He describes the earth as “a living being, a colossal, biological super-system.” Teilhard believed along with other scientists from different parts of the globe, that self awareness, reflection, reasoning and numinousness create a new layer around the planet which he called the noosphere.
He described the advent of humankind as “a gigantic leap forward in the evolutionary process.” The next gigantic leap will happen he believed, at what he calls, the Omega Point.
This point will be reached when the Holy Spirit has set the world on fired with the love and unity proclaimed in Christ’s Beatitudes and teachings and for which he prayed for at the Last Supper.
The fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control will create a roaring fire of love that will consume the universe and matter will be transformed into spirit, creating, perhaps, a second Big Bang. 
 Watching the TV New this evening would suggests that the Omega point will not be reached any time soon! Christian scientists today keep an open mind on this theory.

In the Gospel reading for the feast of the Holy Trinity Jesus states clearly God’s purpose and desire for the people he called into being:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. John 3:16

It is the task of the Spirit now to keep alive in us faith, hope and love, and that spirit of service that Jesus demonstrated in washing the feet of the Apostles during their last supper together. It is important too that the Spirit keeps reminding us that that there is so much more love in our world that never makes headlines and that the blood of s martyrs for the faith has flowed continuously down the centuries even to this present day.
I suppose the final message to us from the Blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit is
 

Make Love Grow Where Ever You Are