-Fr. William Fennelly OSB

All over Europe there are mediaeval cathedrals that are famous for their stained glass such as Notre Dame de Paris. When you look at these windows on these great buildings from the outside they look fairly unremarkable, but when you go inside, you enter a different world and what a wonderful world of colour it is. I think the mystery of the Trinity we’re celebrating today has a similar quality to it. The Holy Trinity is difficult to understand, and that is how it should be. The huge increase in our scientific knowledge about our world has perhaps made us over-confident about our ability to understand other areas of our lives. The Trinity isn’t going to be accessed by a cold abstract dictat anymore than it can be comprehended by a mathematical theorem. Wisdom has always combined reason and a variety of ways of knowing to help us to learn who we are and how we are to live and how we can live love. Today’s really wonderful first reading from the book of Proverbs gives us a good starting point. The Wisdom of God cries aloud:

‘I was by His side, a master craftsman,

delighting Him day after day,

ever at play in His presence,

at play everywhere in the world,

delighting to be with the sons of men’.

Today’s solemnity is a celebration of the wonder of God, and of our delight in having revealed to us, the depths of the life of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and our share in that divine life. These notes of celebration, wonder and delight help us to grasp what’s happening. And yet as we celebrate the Holy Trinity, our first reactions might be along scientific or mathematical lines. You know this kind of approach; “just give me the facts”, “I’m a one page man myself”, it’s like the apostle Thomas all over again, “if I can’t see it, touch it and have it, then I don’t want it”. It would be better to begin less inadequately and more wisely from somewhere else: with people and with love. In a spirit of wonder.

We could start by accepting both the strengths and the limits of reason, especially in this broken world of ours. We need to be lifted up by God to have revealed to us certain truths about Him and who He is. A mystery may be  revealed only partially but still be reliable. People sometimes say that our Christian faith is a leap in the dark, a letting go of rational knowledge and venturing into darkness.

But mystery in our faith does not mean we are faced with the kind of puzzle that faces a scientist. A better start in considering mystery in a Christian sense, might be to stop thinking that we can’t see because we have leapt into the dark. Is it possible that we can’t see the entire depth of mystery, not because it is dark, but because there is too much light for our weak eyes. Faith is having our eyes strengthened and opened further by God about his life as Father, Son and Holy Spirit and our sharing in the life of the Holy Trinity. A life of persons in love. Jesus rather than draw or bind his followers to Himself, directs them to the Father, from whom he himself draws his life. Ultimately He gives, not just Himself, but journeys with us, as one of us, to the Father. That inner strength, His Spirit guides us towards the fullest truth. He teaches his disciples no less than us how to live the meaning of Christian history and this is our salvation.

The mystery of the Trinity is a mystery of those three persons in love, and graciously and marvellously choosing to share their love with us. If we were to celebrate the Holy Trinity using only our natural or scientific knowledge we’d ignore the mystery, and so we’d risk just staying in the shallows. Each and every human person is in themselves a mystery. There is a depth to relationships between people that we call love. Instead of starting with a kind of mathematical puzzle, let’s start with these personal relationships. Start with the mystery which is every person, and the depths involved in love. Deep calls upon deep when the immense and unfathomable God reveals to us humans how we’re related in love to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Jesus in today’s gospel says to his disciples:

‘I still have many things to say to you

but they would be too much for you now.

But when the Spirit of truth comes

he will lead you to the complete truth’.

The Holy Spirit has come, and He’s constantly leading us ever deeper into an ever fuller truth. We are accompanied from within to the wonder inspiring extent that it is given to us to plumb the depths of a fuller truth about God and about ourselves. We could say that really the whole history of salvation is identical with the history of how the one true God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – reveals himself to us. We have never been abandoned by God even when we’re at our most lost.

This adventure is as much if not more about love as it is about knowledge. It will not end at death, but will continue on into eternal life. We are not alone in the dark, we are in a relationship, we’re in a communion and we’re bathed in light.

Still feeling a bit lost? Then be lost in wonder.

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