To make sense of His triune being is truly like emptying the ocean in that small sand-hole.
iBelieve: Truth on Trinity!
Joseph Menezes, Youth Ignited for Christ, Qatar
In 2014, Qatar hosted its annual Youth Retreat with the theme “iBelieve”. To my utter dismay I was forced to attend it. But caught completely off guard, given my atheistic background, I was swept off my feet when the truth delivered at the retreat left a deep impact on my life. God was real. God existed. God loved me. Yes, even a 17 year old atheist like me.
I remember the first few days that followed my conversion to Jesus Christ.
I found myself astounded in the things I had missed out on. To know how frivolously I had cajoled through life unware of a personal God waiting and longing for me is a thought that still shakes me today. In this newly found life, everything seemed different. The church sprung forth with life and liturgy which once was dull and boring became beautiful and something I longed to go to. The stories of saints seemed to emerge out of the books as if in real characters. Their stories, their faith and their zeal fascinated me.
I also find it very interesting to know that iBelieve 2014 was not just the beginning of my journey in Christ but also a journey to truly challenge myself on the aspects of the faith I had accepted. I must admit that as excited as I was and still am, I was also confused on a number of things. One big one was the Truth on the Trinity. Funny as I look back, iBelieve 2014 was indeed the beginning of “Do I really believe?”
The complexity of the “Mystery”
To an intellectual mind like mine, here’s the question that wrecked me: How can there be one God but 3 at the same time? Moreover all three were different, distinct and yet shared the same nature? To defend Christianity as monotheistic against religions like Islam which are clearly monotheistic or Hinduism which is clearly pantheistic was very challenging.
I was comforted though finding out that I wasn’t the only one with these questions. Many Saints too pondered over this mystery including one of my favourite saints, St. Augustine. I thought, ‘How could someone so intelligent and so gifted not have an answer to this?’ It was amazing that someone who was of such great holiness also struggled with the understanding of this mystery.
Like St. Augustine, I became consumed at this mystery and sought to find everything I could to understand about it.
The Saint and the shore!
I don’t know if many of you have read the story but I will summarise it for you. St. Augustine one day was walking down a beach pondering on the thoughts of a Triune God when suddenly his attention was shifted to a small boy who had dug a hole and tried filling it with sea water. The process repeated several times and with each attempt the water disappeared in the sand. The Saint approached him and asked “My boy, what are you doing?” the boy responded “I am trying to bring all the sea into the hole”. St. Augustine had never heard anything more impossible than this and told the boy that it was an “impossible” task. The boy looked at the Saint in his eyes and said “It is no more impossible than what you are trying to do – comprehend the immensity of the mystery of the Holy Trinity with your small intelligence.” The Saint was amazed by the response of the boy and turned away to ponder and as he turned back the boy had vanished.
This vision reminded St. Augustine just as it reminds us today that man is finite and that God is infinite. That man is creation and that God is creator. That man has a fixed lifespan and that God is everlasting. To make sense of His triune being is truly like emptying the ocean in that small sand-hole.
Nevertheless I also believe that God has not left us abandoned and confused to simply believe something for the sake of it. His Word speaks volumes of His love for us just as He has also provided sufficient answers to understand His Triune nature.
Moreover the Church teaches that the mysteries of our faith, unlike the value of pi, are those things human beings cannot come to know through reason alone (CCC 237) which is why they are called the “sacred mysteries of the Faith”.
Coming to grips with scripture
For us Catholics in our first physical encounter in Baptism we are brought to this mystery first-hand when we are blessed “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” and we continue to affirm our faith every time we utter the words of the Nicene Creed.
But what we are affirming?
That God is one in three persons. Each person is distinct, yet they are one in essence or nature. They relate in a way unlike the other. The Father who generates, the Son who is begotten and the Holy Spirit who proceeds, are co-equals, co-eternal and consubstantial and each contain all the aspects of the Godhead making them fully God.
In John chapter 1, John unfolds that creation is the work of the Father through the Word (who is the Son) (John 1:1).In John 14 Jesus announces the sending of “another Paraclete” (Helper) who is the Holy Spirit. Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth and life” and yet we see Jesus revealing another divine person who will also lead us into that Truth.
Some scriptures that will help us understand this mystery just a bit better are:
- There is one God (Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Galatians 3:20; 1 Timothy 2:5).
- The Trinity consists of three Persons (Genesis 1:1, 26; 3:22; 11:7; Isaiah 6:8, 48:16, 61:1; Matthew 3:16-17, 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14).
- The Father is God (John 6:27; Romans 1:7; 1 Peter 1:2). The Son is God (John 1:1, 14; Romans 9:5; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:8; 1 John 5:20). The Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 3:16).
The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God—but there is only one God. That is the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. This is a “mystery”. Rather than attempting to fully define the Trinity with our finite human minds, we would be better served by focusing on the fact of God’s greatness and His infinitely higher nature.
The Truth on Trinity is more than a test of our faith. It is a model of our love. God who is perfect in love in His Godhead has loved us perfectly and sought us with His own life and blood on the Cross. Nothing is more beautiful than knowing that a mysterious and magnificent God who is unfathomable makes Himself known in ways we can truly comprehend when we seek Him with all our heart.
I would recommend visiting lifeteen.com and YouCAT for further reading.