THREE, YET ONE
(A biblical reflection on the Solemnity of THE MOST HOLY TRINITY- Sunday, 15 June 2014)
First Reading: Exodus 34:4b-6,8-9; Psalms: Daniel 3:52-56; Second Reading: 2Corinthians 13:11-13; Gospel Reading: John 3:16-18
In his brilliant series The Ascent of Man, author Jacob Bronowski devotes an episode to mathematics under the title “The Music of the Spheres.” He shows historically how man’s ascent in civilization was marked by an increasing understanding of mathematical patterns which he saw reflected in the harmonies of music, for example, or in the motion of the spheres around the sun.
One of the most fascinating geometric discoveries by the early Greeks was the fact that three fixed points, not all on the same line, determine uniquely one and only one triangle, one and only one plane, and one only one circle. Why this should be, we don’t know. All we can do is observe it as a fact and apply it to the real world in art, architecture, engineering and science.
Even more mysterious is our belief that there are three Persons, yet one and only one God. Why this should be, we don’t know. All we can do is accept it as a revealed fact and apply it to our Christian life.
Today’s readings are part of this Trinitarian revelation. In Exodus we read about God announcing His name to Moses as YHWH, and then giving us the meaning of that name as a God who is merciful and gracious. In the second reading, St. Paul concluded his letter to the Corinthians with a Trinitarian farewell: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2Corinthians 13:13).
Finally, in the Gospel of John, Jesus tells Nicodemus that God has Father so loved the world that He sent His only Son. Recall that last Sunday on Pentecost we also read in John’s Gospel that Jesus breathed on His disciples and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
In his book The Theology of the Trinity, Laurence Cantwell devotes a chapter to interpreting the Trinity in the light of the universal religious sense of mankind.
This sense of religion makes itself felt first in a feeling of awe at finding ourselves in a world we did not make. We see evidence of God’s hand in creation, but we don’t see God Himself. Our awe expresses itself in worship.
Second, a religious sense is felt by an insight into God’s presence at the heart of the world. Poetry, music, art and human love awaken in us an awareness of divine presence in our very midst. We perceive that human activity has a divine dimension.
If the first religious sense can be characterized asvertical, pointing beyond the world, then the second way can be characterized ashorizontal, pointing the way within the world. In the first way we look at God as that mysterious source from which creation came – the Father as we would say. In the second way, we see God as a presence within creation – the Son as we would say.
There is a third dimension to the ways a religious sense is felt, a depth dimension whereby we detect a presence within ourselves. Great artists, for example, testify to an inspiration from within their very being which moves them to creative activity. This divine spark within us we call the Holy Spirit.
No matter where we look, then – up into the universe, out into this world, or inside our own hearts – we sense the presence of a mysterious God who is three, yet one.
In every dimension of our existence God reveals Himself to us in order to surround us with His light, share with us His life and draw us into His love. May we always praise the Father for creating us, the Son for redeeming us and the Holy Spirit for sanctifying us.
Source: Fr. Albert Cylwicki CSB, HIS WORD RESOUNDS, Makati, Philippines: St. Paul Publications, 1991, pages 42-43.
Jakarta, 15 June 2014
A Christian Pilgrim