The Trinity: Doctrine and Mystery

celtic_trinity_knot

“Brothers and sisters, mend your ways.  Encourage one another.  Live in harmony and peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.  Greet one another with a holy kiss.  All the holy ones send greetings to you.  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all!”

The Doctrine

Which of us has not tried to grasp and somehow articulate the meaning of the Trinity?  We analyze and scrutinize three persons and yet one true God.  How can it be?  Some have said it could not.  This doctrine has often been a great offense and scandal.  When the Creeds were first being written and the concept of Trinity was being ironed out, the common people hotly debated  it in the streets.  There was talk of nothing else; as easily as we discuss the latest baseball game, the average, everyday Christians wrestled over Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Some Christian leaders were actually sent into exile depending on which interpretation was in favor at the time.  The first major splits in Christianity occurred over the doctrine and the interpretation of the Greek words which tried to explain it all; philosophical Greek did not translate well into legal Latin.  Islam was born, in part, because it appeared as though Christians were polytheistic, although a slightly different trinity at that time was to blame:  Father, Jesus, and Mary. Amazing.

The Mystery

Paul, writing to us in Corinthians, calls us to harmony and peace; the kind of peace that is only possible through God; a peace that leads to such intimacy that it can be sealed with a kiss; a peace whose roots grow out of the common unity of the Trinity.  This character of fellowship is possible for us because it is essentially Triune God.  But how can we have this peace with one another when we are  so imperfect and fault finding, so distant and separated, so self centered and identity conscious?  We, together, can have this kind of peace because Jesus is graceful toward us even though we are saddled with faults and failings.  Humbled by Christ’s grace we therefore extend grace to our fellow failed and faulted; if Christ can forgive us then we can forgive others.  We can have this peace with one another, because the love of the Father comes to us like a great big family hug where Mom and Dad and all the kids huddle tight with arms around each other and squeeze till there are squeals of delight.  We can have this kind of peace with one another because the Holy Spirit flows in around us, and over us, and between us, and through us, so that we can not touch each other without first touching God, so that we don’t know where the other person begins and God ends, so that we are overwhelmed, swallowed up, and carried away into the eternal dimension of peace, harmony, and communion.  Amazing.

Trinity Sunday Ex. 34: 4-9; II Cor. 13: 11-13 Jn. 3: 16-18

Peace Connections: Making the connection between the Sunday Readings and issues of peace and justice. Copyright 1995, by Thomas L. Garlitz. “Not for profit” permission to reprint granted.