The Mystery of the Blessed Trinity
JESUS Who is God told us many things about the Godhead while He was on earth. While there are many things we can know about God through reason alone, there are some things which are above reason and have to be revealed to us directly by God Himself. The doctrine of the Trinity is perhaps the supreme example of this – that is there is only one God, and in this one God there are three divine Persons – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is a mystery because being finite creatures we can never fully understand the infinite. No one would ever have thought it up.
Although Our Lord only fully revealed this truth in the New Testament there are hints of it in the Old. For example, at Creation, God says, “Let us make man in our image after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26), using the plural form to refer to Himself. The Church Fathers understood this passage to be a communication among the Persons of the Trinity. Then in the New Testament, as early as the Annunciation, the Angel Gabriel says to Mary, “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 called holy, the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Here we have the three Persons named: the Most High, the Son of God and the Holy Spirit.
The most explicit New Testament reference to the Trinity is found in today’s Gospel: “Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). When JESUS says this, notice that although He lists the three Persons, the command is to baptise in one Name. Here is what the Catechism says: “Christians are baptised in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: not in their names [plural]…” (CCC#233).
But what does all this matter anyway? It matters because Christianity is not about obeying a set of rules. It’s about our having a personal relationship with God who loves us, and so Who He is really does matter. God the Father created us and everything He created is good, but by Original Sin we were alienated from Him. Therefore God the Son (JESUS) came to save us and show us the path to Heaven because He loves us. This is why He died on the Cross and rose again. And then God the Holy Spirit enables this to happen through the spiritual gifts and guidance He gives us. So let us ask for that guidance, because God the Son promises that if we do this, His Spirit will fill us with the truth that leads to eternal life.
Fr Paul Gillham, IC