MAGNIFICAT: Trinity Sunday

A detail from Holy Trinity, a fresco painted by Luca Rossetti da Orta (1738–9)

You might think that the Blessed Trinity is the most difficult part of the Christian faith to understand, or indeed convey. And if we think of it as an abstraction, it is: how can God be one in three persons?

Perhaps it might help to understand this doctrine in the light of where it is placed in the liturgical year: coming at the end of Easter, after the Ascension and Pentecost. There is such a rich unpacking of the truth about God in these events. He reveals himself by going to the very limit of what it means to be a human being: in death. Then he conquers death, rising to new life, and accompanying the apostles as they prepare to lead the fledgling Church. Finally, in their presence (this is important) he is drawn to that other realm where the Father lives: inviting us to be drawn after him.

If this were not enough, at Pentecost the apostles experience the coming of the Holy Spirit, as Jesus promised them they would. “As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.” (John 20:22) They are to participate so intimately in his saving mission that they themselves will have the power, in the Holy Spirit, to forgive sins. That wonderful sacrament of reconciliation is born.

Power is a dangerous thing where human beings are concerned. The only safe power is God’s: because only God is perfect – only he knows what he is doing. The closest we can come to understanding this, existentially, is to think of the essential relationality expressed by the Father in his Son, a relationship continued in us through the Spirit. The mystery of the Trinity is carved within our nature: we were made for love, for the eternal waltz of the human in search of the divine. “Know that I am with always; yes, to the end of time.”

Leonie Caldecott is the editor of MAGNIFICAT UK and Ireland

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