The “Mystery” of the Trinity

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity – June 7, 2020

St. Margaret Mary – Wichita, KS

Exodus 34:4b-6, 8-9; Daniel 3:52-56; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; John 3:16-18

So a couple of weeks ago, I told you how I like to keep things concrete, because it’s easy for us to start zoning out when we start using words like “Paschal Mystery” or “Most Holy Trinity.” Our pew just seems to get more and more comfortable, our A.D.D. kicks in, and all of a sudden we’re counting the ceiling tiles. So much of our Faith are things we have been hearing and saying for so long that the words don’t really mean much anymore, we forget the revolutionary power that they possess. So again, we just try to keep it concrete. But how concrete can it be when it’s the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity? The Trinity is about the most abstract and un-encompassable mystery of the Faith—one God, three persons.

Concrete: “God became man, so that man might become God.”

This is one of the most famous and common sayings of the Church Fathers. Irenaeus, Athanatius, all the greats—they held on to this as their mantra. God the Son, Jesus became man so that man might become God. God is not just something we are meant to worship and adore, God is what we are meant to become. We are meant to become God.

But as I’ve shared before, “becoming God” does not mean becoming powerful and mighty and being able to fulfill every wish you have ever wanted. We think of it in our worldly categories of power and dominance and competition. If I want to be the person sitting in that spot in the pew, I have to remove you from that pew, supplant you, use force to get you out so that I can sit there. But that’s not how God works. God is not in competition with us. So what does it mean to say that we are meant to “become God”? Look at our readings.

In the reading from Exodus, the LORD appears to Moses and offers this description of himself: “The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity” (Exodus 34). Merciful, gracious, slow to anger, rich in kindness or compassion, faithful. Did any of your hear the word “powerful” or “mighty” or “granter of wishes”? No.

What about our second reading? St. Paul says, “Brothers and sisters:…encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Corinthians 13). The God of love and peace. Again, no reference to “power” or “might.”

It must be in the Gospel. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” John 3:16-17). Well that’s a bummer, not there either. Apparently being God means loving people that have turned their backs on you, even to the point of sacrificing your dearest relationship, your most cherished possession. Even though they deserve condemnation, you allow them to condemn and cast aside that relationship or possession you freely gave to them, and you do that just to show the depths of your love for them.

That’s what our readings are saying about God.

“God became man so that man might become God.”

But becoming God means entering into this life that our readings describe. God has made us, created us so that we can actually be a part of Himself. But we become God only to the extent that we live the life of God: showing mercy and graciousness, being slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness; being a person of love and peace; being willing to sacrifice what is most dear to you in order to save others, to help others.

The best analogy I can think of is music. As I have told you about five too many times, I play the cello, and that was a big part of my life from 10 to 18 years old. And I always loved playing in a symphony—hundreds of people on stage making this one piece of music. One thing you cannot do in a symphony is try to dominate or overpower others; there is none of that, or it falls apart. And it’s not just being a conformist. Being in a symphony invites you into a unity, but a unity that also possesses real distinct players, but their distinction is always defined by their relationship to one another (c.f., CCC 252). In other words, I am only part of the one symphony insofar as I am in relationship with everyone else; I am only able to participate in this relationship if I “live the life” of the symphony. If I try to be a bluegrass musician in a symphony, it doesn’t work.

The Mystery of the Trinity is the central mystery of the Faith. But it is not something we are supposed to try to understand or explain or solve, no. The Trinity is something we are supposed to live. The life of love that is God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—that is what it’s about. We adore God in three persons, because that is the life toward which we are striving and that we are freely being offered to partake in. But just like the symphony, the ability to be a part of that life is characterized in a very specific way: mercy and graciousness, rich in kindness and faithfulness; love and peace; being willing to sacrifice what is most dear to you.

“God became man so that man might become God.”

Within each one of us is the potential to become God. Not to be a good person, not to be the best version of yourself, not to accept yourself, no. Within you is the potential to become God, to enter into the dynamic of the Triune God. And not just when you die either! But to begin to live that life here and now, and to begin to experience here and now what it means to be God—a communion of life and love, now and forever.

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