In this era of real and imagined collusion with Russians, it’ll be good to learn a real mystery from Russians. During those Soviet Union era, a dad said to his son who had converted to Christianity: “Christianity is not only wrong, it’s laughable. How can it say that the father is equal to the son? Common sense dictates that I existed before you.” The son answered: “And common sense dictates too that you never started to be a father until I became a son.” The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, which we celebrate today is called the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them.” What does this mystery teach? To sound really theological, one can employ the Greek terminology “perichoresis” used by St. John Damascene and St. Gregory Nazianzus to define or describe the mystery of the trinity. Perichoresis in theological parlance describes the mutual interpenetration of the hypostasis (persons) of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who are individually and together of one ousia (essence). That sounds abstract, doesn’t it? The interpenetration can be compared to the different levels water can exist: as liquid, solid ice and steam. Recently Pope Francis used the Fidget Spinner to explain the trinity. In the trinity, the Church teaches that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit form God, but exist as three persons.
Does that explain the mystery of the trinity? In no way. An important point to be made about a mystery is that we can know something about it but cannot fully understand or explain it. It shouldn’t surprise that we’re incapable of fully understanding God, given we’re finite creatures trying to understand infinite reality. As a kindergartener is not able to understand algebra and calculus, in the array of possible knowledge of reality, we’re kindergartners in relation to divine realities. Some arrogant people will object and claim that if they cannot know God, that makes God unknowable. What is wrong with that claim is that even in the natural universe, we are incapable of knowing everything contained therein. My grandfather who knew about telegram would have dismissed the possibility of email messages. Is it possible that God is too great for us to understand him fully? Yes, because we do not possess the same level of knowledge as God and do not exist at a level contemporaneous with God.
Having said these, the question remains: “Of what relevance is the doctrine of the trinity to us?” The trinity teaches us love, collaboration, unity, mutual understanding. These qualities subsist in the trinity and preclude the possibility of tension, discord, hatred and unfaithfulness. When we learn to live like God, we’ll overcome the tensions in human relationships, which result from lack of unity and love. Tensions in marriages, friendships, alliances, and currently in our national discourse result from lack of love and unity. Unlike God who is unity, the devil, whose essence is division sows discord among us causing us to bite and tear each other down. Since our nation abandoned God to make idols of ourselves and our desires, we find that we’re experiencing more tension, hatred and disunity as a nation. Friendships, alliances, marriages, and laws not built on God, on the inner life and love of the trinity, are destined to collapse.