- Fr. John Jennings
Our Sacred Stories - Trinity: Mystery in Our Life
Context matters. Awareness of the bigger, fuller picture helps us to understand what we are looking at in the moment. In living with Covid-19 we sometimes wonder why decision-makers so often appear to change the guidelines of our response to the pandemic. Why for instance, can they not tell us how long we will be under restrictions at the border?
One of the realities of our experience at this time is that Covic-19 is a new (novel) virus. We have had many viruses among us, but this one is new. We do not know all the characteristics that mark it. In some measure we will only become more aware of the bigger picture by looking at how it behaves in real time. That is, in the day by day unfolding of our experience. There is no quick and easy response. Only by examining our experience of the virus, over time, can we discover the best responses. In understanding how to respond, context matters. In some ways, it is……… a mystery.
“It’s a mystery.” Such a statement can mean many things to us. It might mean something that is unsolvable. Or perhaps it means a question for which we do not have an answer. On the otherhand it may be our way to avoid a question we do not want. It can even be used to refer to a type of novel or movie.
Our lives are full of “mysteries”. Every relationship is a mystery for us. Every time we enter into a friendship, we have to realize that we will never fully understand this person. The relationship will be in continual evolution. The deeper the relationship, the greater the mystery. When we speak of the “mystery of the Trinity” or some other “mystery” of our faith” this is what we face.
“Mystery” in this case is used to speak of something the meaning of which is so great that we can never exhaust the truth of it. All of our seeking and searching, all of our questions will help us with understanding, but there will always be more to discover in our relationships. This is certainly true of the “mystery of the Trinity.”
Matthew in his Gospel (Matt.28:16-20) opens up the many aspects of this mystery of the Trinity. He does so in relating an experience of the disciples in an encounter with the Risen Jesus. It is significant that they have this experience on a mountain, in fact the mountain on which Jesus presented what we call the Sermon on the Mount. This sermon covers Matthew chapters 5-7. It is a collection of sayings and teachings which capture the core of the message of Jesus and the focus of his whole mission among us. In some ways then, it expresses the meaning of the Trinity for us.
As the disciples encounter Jesus on this mountain, they discover that they are being included in the relationship of love that Jesus has with God as a loving parent. They are adopted children of God. In this relationship Jesus draws them into his mission. He is not “handing on the mission”, but rather he is “including them in his mission.”
In celebrating the Feast of the Trinity we are acknowledging a truth that is at the foundation of who we are as Christians. It expresses our faith in our God who loves us deeply, as a parent. So deeply does this God love us that God came in the person of Jesus to live among, to share the life that we live, even unto death. More than this, Jesus draws us into sharing a loving relationship with God and calls us to share with others, all others, the loving relationship we have with God. This gift of love from God brings us to full and eternal life. All of this and more is expressed in the “mystery of the Trinity.”