I always thought that to describe the Trinity as a “mystery” was a bit of a “cop out” for not offering a decent explanation. However, a theological “mystery” is defined as something that not only are we incapable of discovering except through divine revelation, but that even when its truth has been fully revealed, we are incapable of fully understanding it. Our understanding can never be any more than partial, even when we fully accept it. This is a concept in which our world struggles ~ that there is something that is not fully able to be known but it’s OK not to fully understand it.
Jesus’ instruction that the disciples go out to all the nations and baptize them “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” is an instruction that is still being carried on today. Those precise words are used by the priest or deacon at every baptism. They are also the words used in the sign of the cross ~ whether that is a personal, private blessing of oneself or a blessing of a group as in the introductory and dismissal rites as part of a Mass. When we make the sign of the cross we use the words of Jesus.
Some time ago, Walter Burghardt, a Jesuit, spoke at a commencement ceremony. I find it always refreshing to remember his words… “In the course of a half century, I have seen more human corruption than you have read about. I have been reasonable corrupt myself. Yet, I love this church ~ this living, pulsing, sinning People of God ~ with a crucifying passion. Why?
For all the Christian hate, I experience here a community of love. For all the institutional idiocy, I find here a tradition of reason. For all the individual repression, I breathe here an air of freedom. For all the fear of sex, I discover here the redemption of the body. In an age so inhuman, I touch here the tears of compassion. In a world so grim and humorless, I share here rich joy and earthy laughter. In the midst of death, I hear here the uncompromising stress on life. For all the apparent absence of God, I sense here the real presence of Christ.”
St. Paul gave us a brilliant look into the reality of Jesus. It’s a testimony that Jesus, the son of Mary is human; the Son of God, Jesus is also divine. He is the second person of the trinity. He is eternal, almighty, and forever loving and creating.
St. Paul also reminds us that we are human. If we are people committed to faith, linked with Jesus through our baptism, we have divine life within us as well. As individuals, just as a Church we experience the joining of the human and divine. As do Christians individually, the Church institution has its human side.
In the midst of all this; in the midst of the Church, and only in Christian belief, do we rise! After all is said about the Church’s individual and collective mistakes and limitations, in the Church we find love, we find the tradition of reason, we find true freedom, authentic reverence for the human person, joy, love of life, and the real presence of Christ. We find these astonishing inspirational realities nowhere else in life.
So, we are a wounded people of God, anxiously aware that some of our own inflicted the wounds. It easily can seem to be a Church in which hope and trust have no place. It easily can seem to be a world absent of God. Please, look again. Here, among God’s people, we can sense the real presence of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.