Throughout the year the Church commemorates in a special way important moments or aspects of the Christian revelation. Over the last few weeks the Church in her liturgy has called to mind both the ascension of Jesus into heaven forty days after his resurrection and the event of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured upon the apostles. Today, however, we are invited to focus not on one particular aspect of revelation but on God himself in his innermost being – God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Theologians have often emphasised that in thinking about God we stand before a mystery that we do not understand. They teach that because our knowledge of things is derived from what we know about the world and God is not an object in the world then we cannot know the nature of God. In fact, it is easier for us to say what God is not rather than what God is because we have to distinguish God from material things. Yet at the same time, we believe as Christians that in the story of Jesus of Nazareth we are given a glimpse of what God is like. Jesus Christ is our entry point into the mystery of God.
The feast of the Holy Trinity gives us the opportunity to contemplate once more the God that Jesus reveals. This is crucial because we can all so easily find ourselves inventing and embracing false ideas and images of God. Many of the atheistic philosophies of recent history have to some extent been constructed upon false ideas of what God is like. It has been suggested, for example, that both the selfish individualism and the damaging collectivism of modern times flow from a distorted doctrine of God.
The truth about of God that Jesus reveals shapes our understanding of what it is to be human and helps us to discover our true identity. Reflecting upon the revelation of Jesus the church has come to express in her Trinitarian faith the belief that in the one God there exists a community of three divine persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and that this community is one of love – ‘a divine circulation of mutually indwelling love’. As creatures that are made in the image and likeness of the God of love we too are called to live as people in relationship. This is why we only truly live out our vocation as human beings by following the commandment to love, love not only of God but also of our neighbour.
One expression of this love is friendship. True friendship, like God’s love for us, is forgiving, self-giving and transforming. God himself has called us to be his friends – a staggering thought! He longs for us to share for eternity in the community of love which is his very being. On Trinity Sunday we should give thanks to God for inviting us to share in his own divine life of love, for making it possible for us to be his friends and for revealing to us our vocation to love. The image of God that Jesus Christ reveals gives us the knowledge that what ultimately sustains creation and is the reason for anything existing at all is purely love. How great is your name, O Lord our God, through all the earth!