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Trinity Sunday – More than the Maths!

Anyone who has been brought up as a Catholic has been told that the Trinity is a mystery. We can’t possibly understand it. That the mystery is all about three in one and one in three.  We know that St Patrick helped everyone out by offering his explanation using the shamrock – but basically we should leave the whole thing alone.

This is a bit odd when you consider the efforts God has made in order to be known. God could have stayed apart, but got involved in the world. God could have remained invisible but can been known and experienced through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. So why all the mystery?

Well, and here’s the big reveal, it’s not about the maths! The mystery of the Trinity is the mystery of relationship. And this is a ‘mystery’ which is very familiar to us.

Think of a moment when you felt truly connected to another person or persons – or felt connected to nature. How did it feel? Some of the words which come to mind might be – peaceful, accepted, whole, loved, loving, happy, alive. If we understand God as Trinity – as the mystery of relationship – these connections are our way to God. More – these connections are an experience of God.

The mystery of the Trinity is that God is ‘not a by-itself[1]’ sitting far away in the clouds. But that God is a community of giving and receiving, endlessly loving, and flowing out into the world to embrace all that lives.

So – what difference does that make to us?

The difference that makes is that where we find love and relationship we can find God. In fact, we knew this all along. When our sleepy toddler climbs into bed next to us with cold toes, God is present. When we forgive a neighbour for playing the trombone during lockdown, God is present. When we fall in love; make a sacrifice for others; when we express solidarity with people who are oppressed; when we discover something new about another person or leave the door open after a rift – this is God’s way of being in the world.

In God’s image

It is amazing to think we are made in God’s image. When we remember the Trinity – we realise that we image God together first. That to find God’s image among us we look to our families, communities and relationships. We know that we are limited people – but together we look like God!

That’s the kind of mystery which is at once totally familiar and also beyond our understanding. Happy Trinity Sunday!

[1] Mowry La Cugna, C. God For Us, The Trinity and Christian Life 1991 (NY: Harper Collins) 14.