After all the revelations of Our Lord we’ve been celebrating in Easter, the Ascension and Pentecost, we come in our church year to the Feast of the Holy Trinity. The heavily loaded concept of the Holy Trinity is the Church’s and our shared understanding of what all those marvelous revealings tell our blinkered hearts and minds about Almighty God. The result through the centuries has been soaring rhetoric all the way to ridiculous banality.
How could we possibly sum up or describe the Creator of all the worlds, the Holy Trinity? Basically, all we can do is celebrate, honor and bow down before the Godhead, the Almighty Father, and the Son Our Savior Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, the great Comforter and Lord of Life. Our only true knowledge can only be found in worship from our hearts, minds and souls of that overwhelming reality.
All of this, of course, is a mystery. It is truth revealed to us by God. It is impossible for us to have grasped this unaided by the Holy Spirit. But once given to our renewed minds, it is sweet in our understanding and consistent with the way we reason. It makes holy sense in the depths of our being. We believe this is because we carry the imprint of our Triune Creator on our souls, our characters.
It is exactly what Our Lord and the Apostles have told us about the very nature of God Almighty. The Old Testament has many allusions to the Triune nature of God and the New Testament is saturated with it. We could say the entire Fourth Gospel of the Apostle St. John and his Epistles are written to declare it. Truly the Trinity can only be known as a continuously unfolding, God self-revealing revelation … given for us as we approach the Throne of God.
In the First Letter of John we find a definition of God that is beautiful and perfect — and simple. Here’s what John wrote: “God is love. And he who abides in love, abides in God and God in him” (1 John 4:16). God is love! Not some sentimental notion of love, but love that means an emptying of oneself for the other. That is really what real selfless love is about. Why were you and I created? We were created because God loved us. That’s the only reason. We were created by God out of love.
We were created by God for a purpose: to know him and to love him and to serve him in this life and to be happy with him in the next — an old catechism definition of why we were made. God made us out of love. He made us for himself and he intends us to be happy with him forever.
The whole history of the people of God that we read in the Old Testament is a history of that love continually surprising God’s people. How often did they reject that love and go their own way and God continually calls them back, renewing the covenant with them; that special relationship that he, in his love, had with them. He did not abandon them. “Can a mother forget her infant? Be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even though she forget, I will never forget you” (Isaiah 49:15). That is a glimmer of how much God loves us.
And yet even that is not enough for God. As we know, God sent his Son into the world from His seat of divinity within the Holy Trinity. Jesus Christ our Lord emptied himself of the glory of his divinity, in order to take up this human nature of ours, to be born of a woman, to live among us, to suffer and die on a cross. For what purpose? Because he loves us and pours Himself out for us. God is love. Jesus, our Lord, is the personification of the Father’s love for us.
Jesus told His disciple Philip, “Philip, have I been so long a time with you and you still don’t know me? He who sees me, sees the Father also” (John 14:9). “You want to know who the Father is? I am the perfect reflection of the Father.”
All that the Father is and has, he has given to his Son. There is a bond of love that exists between God the Father and God the Son and that bond of love is so perfect and complete that it’s a Person. It is the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity. On the night before he died, Jesus spoke to his disciples (John 16) about sending the Holy Spirit to them as another Advocate, to teach them all things, to confirm them, to strengthen them in the truth so that they would know God. That Spirit is the bond of love between God the Father and God the Son. And now that Holy Spirit is poured out upon the world in order that our relationship between ourselves and God would be established from the Father, through the Son, by the Holy Spirit.
Are we ready for what this means? The Triune God has expanded His family to include you and me. The same love that the Father has for His Son, Jesus Christ, whom He raised from the dead, is the love that He has for each and every one of us. And that is the Holy Spirit. You and I, having been graced by that love, are able—empowered—to return that love to God by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. We are, as St. Paul says, the adopted children of God (Romans 8:15). God’s purpose to have us in eternal fellowship with Him is eternally fulfilled.
Now we can honor the Holy Triune God and His great work for us. He created us for relationship with Him and each other. We bear His image which makes us human and capable of relationship, of community. That image patterns our very souls and allows and moves us to be human as God intended … to create, to love, to be grateful, to worship. Despite our revolt and fall away from His love and utter righteousness, He literally gave Himself as satisfaction for our crimes, our sins … and redeemed all the creation that we have broken. This was and is the act of the greatest love.
And from the theological or philosophical point of view, this intervening love cannot occur except from a Triune God. The very character of the love flowing between the three Persons of the Trinity undergirds our spiritual and material cosmos and makes possible our relationship with the total otherness of Almighty God. We are, each one of us, the loved immortal creatures of an impossibly loving God Who has brought us into being to be in eternal relationship with Him. And beyond that, if it were possible to comprehend beyond that, He has through his Son and His Son’s unity with us, drawn us up into the Holy Family … so that we are in the flow of the love that courses between Father, Son and Holy Ghost!
What could possibly be our response except Holy fear, Holy awe, Holy worship. We will never in all eternity comprehend the whole of the cosmos or its Creator. And we will have all eternity to explore and serve and wonder.
This is where we start, live and never end … in our hearts outward flow of love and gratitude back to God, the Holy Trinity. All of this being only possible by the power and urging of the Holy Spirit. We have been given the means by Our Lord to stand on this mountain of creation and join the heavenly feast of eternal thanksgiving to Almighty Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.