The Holy Trinity
I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. – John 16:12-15
The concept of the Holy Trinity can be a stumbling block if mere human logic is all that is applied to the understanding of it. It is, in theological parlance, a mystery. It is a truth that is understood in the light of faith. This mystery is central to the Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God himself and is, therefore, the source of all the other mysteries of faith, and the light that enlightens all of them. It is the mystery of how God has revealed himself to us in history. It is not through human reason alone that we know or understand this mystery, it is revealed to us in the scriptures, as in the passage above, and many others
It is Jesus, the Word of God, who reveals the mystery of the Trinity to us in his own words. “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Matthew 11:27)
Before the Passover, the Last Supper, Jesus announced the sending of another paraclete (Advocate), the Holy Spirit. This Spirit, as we know from the Old Testament, has been at work since the creation and “spoke through the prophets.” Jesus tells us, “I have said these things to you while still with you; but the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you of all I have said to you.” (John 14:26) And, “But when the Spirit of truth comes he will lead you to the complete truth, since he will not be speaking as from himself but will say only what he has learned; and he will tell you of the things to come.” (John 16:13)
The Nicene Creed which is the ultimate Christian belief statement about the Trinity puts it this way, Jesus is “The only begotten Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, consubstantial (one in being) with the Father.” And, “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and Son is adored and glorified.” In this we are recognizing the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are One God, equal, and of the same substance and the same nature.
As Christians, It is in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit that we baptize. Notice the phrasing here: it is in the name of,” not in the “names” of. The Trinity is One.
This is all very difficult to wrap our minds around and in the light of human reason alone, it seems impossible. But it has been the inspired understanding of the Church since the beginning and it has been this understanding that has remained the same throughout that history. It has remained the same even through the many heretical challenges that arose in the early Church and that continue to rise up in different iterations in our own time. It is the central, most important dogma of the Christian faith.
We Christians believe that God is love and that he has shown that love in three ways, in the oneness of his being as Creator, Savior and Advocate. The Love that created all things seen and unseen is the same Love whose “state was divine, yet he did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave, and became a man, and he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross. (Philippians 2:6-8) And it is that one and the same Love that is the Spirit who is with us, teaching and guiding us to the truth, until the end of time. When we say “Emmanuel, God is with us” we mean all of this Trinitarian God, the God who says, through John, in Revelation 22:13, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”
When we pray in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, we are not praying to three gods, but to the One God who has revealed himself to us in these three profound ways.
In my relations with my wife and daughters I am myself, I am a husband, and I am a father. I am the same being in each case. Though I am the same being, I relate to myself, to my wife, and to my children in very unique and different ways. None of those different relationships changes my core being. I am still the same person, but I am experienced very differently by my wife and my children. This example, of course, is only a metaphor. I am a mere human being. God’s relationship to us through his Creative Person as Father, through his Saving Person as Son, and through his Loving Person as the Holy Spirit that binds these Persons into One Holy Being, is perfect and unchangeable.
Finally, we Christians are called to be a dwelling place for the Holy Trinity. “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him.” (John 14:23)
When we say “Maranatha,” then, with our whole hearts, our whole minds, and our whole souls, whether it is translated as, “Our Lord has come,” or as, “Come, Lord,” we are expressing our deepest love and our most profound need for the fullness of God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God!!!!