In today’s Office of Readings, St Athanasius writes:
‘In the Church one God is preached, who is “above all things and through all things and in all things”.
Yes, certainly, “above all things” as the Father, the first principle and origin; and truly “through all things”,
that is through the Word, and finally “in all things” in the Holy Spirit (St Athanasius in Office of Readings).
Down the ages, saints and other Gospel commentators have contributed to the mystery of the Trinity. But still, it is impossible for us to fully grasp what we are dealing with.
We should remember, though, what the word ‘mystery’ means. In the light of faith, we are not talking about a Miss Marple kind of mystery, a series of clues that will lead us to a resolution. No, the mystery of the Trinity is a truth that is beyond our grasp. We are no more likely to fully understand the Trinity than we are to walk unaided upside-down on the ceiling.
And herein lies a clue to our own spiritual life. As much as we find it tricky, as disheartened as we can become, our spiritual maturity rests on accepting mysteries that are currently beyond our comprehension. It is not just the Trinity, but prayer, the Blessed Sacrament and Transubstantiation (to name but a few) that are mysteries, yet we live by them. God himself is a mystery to us, yet we spend our life developing relationship with him. The key to accepting these things is trusting, placing our trust in Christ through whom we attain the Kingdom. And what did Jesus tell us to do? He told us to love. As today’s Gospel puts it:
“God loved the world so much
that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him
may not be lost but may have eternal life.”
So, as in all things, the gel that holds us together, that teaches us to become God’s children, that binds our thoughts and works and deeds into a book of praise for him, is love. We are never asked to crack the puzzle of the Trinity. But we are invited to accept it within the context of the Gospels, to participate in the Trinity by living according to love.
This invitation presents itself every time we mark ourselves with the sign of the cross, saying:
In the name of the Father,
And of the Son,
And of the Holy Spirit,
It is a way, if you pardon the expression, of ‘pinning our colours to the mast’ because we are proclaiming that what we say is in the name of the Trinity. We are not expected to retain absolute conviction in our beliefs, and even briefly leafing through the lives of the saints gives us a clear understating of the prevalence of doubt within the journey to God. But we are asked to trust. And through this trust, through this clinging to a mystery that is beyond us, we learn to love as God loves.