Trinity Sunday: What Is the Trinity? 8

Bishops like to practice the tradition of quizzing confirmation candidates during the rite of confirmation. On one occasion, a particular Bishop asked one of the candidates to explain the Mystery of the Trinity. The shy teenaged girl mumbled softly, “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” The bishop, who did not hear her answer clearly, said, “Excuse me, I didn’t understand.” The  girl spoke up and answered, “You’re not supposed to understand,  it’s a mystery.”

Mysteries are inexhaustible truths, not unknowable truths. We can relate to the mystery of the Trinity because we all long for loving relationships, that is, to love and to be loved.

The key to understanding the mystery of the Trinity is experiential love. Though we cannot exhaust the mystery of God’s love, we can participate in it more deeply by strengthening our relationship with him and with one another.

Saint Augustine illustrates the sense of the Mystery of the Trinity with a story of a young boy trying to fill a hole in the sand with all the water in the ocean. When Augustine explained to the boy that he could not possibly do this, the boy responded, “Likewise, you cannot fit the Mystery of the Trinity into your small head.”

The story illustrates that the deep truth contained in the mystery is understandable to the extent that our minds can grasp it, yet inexhaustible inasmuch as we can always delve deeper into the mystery of God’s love and still never exhaust its full meaning and truth.

The Trinity essentially is a relationship of love among the divine persons who are one and the same God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. To know God as he is is to exercise love freely and generously in all our relationships. The more unselfishly we love our spouse, our children, our parents, our brothers and sisters, and our neighbor, the perfectly more we imitate the unconditional, eternal love of God.

This is why we deeply long to love and to be loved – God, who is love, created us in his image and likeness. Essentially, we are made for love, which means we must have loving relationships in order to achieve purposeful and meaningful lives.

Thus, our Lord’s only commandment is to love one another. “As the Father has loved me, so I love you. Now abide in my love,” and “Love one another as I have loved you.”  His message is clear and simple, yet inexhaustible, because unconditional love is inexhaustible. We can always grow deeper in our love and in our relationships and never cease to love.

Our ability to love in this way makes us more like God who loves without end. The more purely and unselfishly we love one another, the more perfectly we imitate God, who is love. Share this love with someone today by showing how much you love them and how you treasure your relationship.


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  3. A truly lovely article, that I have only just now had the pleasure of reading.
    A wonderful explanation to explain the unexplainable! 🙂

  4. “Love” means different things to different people. I like the basic Thomistic definition of love as an attraction toward the good. An important task of moral theology is to distinguish true goods from apparent goods, the latter being things which seem very good but lack some good they ought to have. God bless!

    • Good point, Sages. Good to add here. There’s also the Augustinian and Thomistic understanding of what true love for neighbor is: Seeking, desiring, or giving the proper good for others without looking for recompense in return. God does this most perfectly, because in everything God does, he neither loses or gains anything. Every act of his is an act of love.

      Thank you!

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