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**** The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity Lectionary: 164 (EX 34:4B-6, 8-9; DN 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56; 2 COR 13:11-13; JN 3:16-18) "Inconceivable!" gasped Vizzini the Sicilian as the Dread Pirate Roberts clambered up the Cliffs of Insanity even though the rope had been cut. "He didn't fall? Inconceivable." With a look of bemused disdain, Inigo Montoya shot back, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." Vizzini the Sicilian from William Goldman's The Princess Bride is not the only one who has trouble dealing with the inconceivable. For most of us the notion of the Holy Trinity is just as difficult. Three in One and One in Three are, for us, certainly unimaginable. We can not form a mental image or picture to help us grasp it. It is, in fact, inconceivable, something that we can not even form a concept about to reason out mentally. There are abstract concepts that we can discuss and reason about purely mentally without having a mental image. Advanced mathematics and quantum physics jump to mind. But when it comes to the Trinity we are left stumped. We reach for that word the Church has always used: Mystery. Now, mystery is not what happens in the last two pages of the book when Poirot or Miss Marple explain how the crime came to pass. "Mystery is not something that we can know nothing about: it is only something that the mind cannot WHOLLY know. It is not to be thought of as a high wall that we can neither see over nor get around: it is to be thought of rather as a gallery into which we can progress deeper and deeper, though we can never reach the end." (F. J. Sheed, Theology and Sanity, Ignatius Press, 2011, p. 19) From St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, the Church teaches that it is possible to know some things about God from Nature and Reason, something of His immense power and great wisdom. Throughout history some of the greatest minds -- Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, and many others -- have sought to probe the depths of what can be known about God. We live in a world of contingent being. Everything and everyone depends on someone or something else for existence. Your lunch today depends on the cook chopping peppers and onions in the kitchen. The pew you are sitting on depends on the carpenter who built it. You, yourself, depend on your parents who brought you to life through the act of procreation. And so, in a world of contingent being, there must be one necessary and non- contingent being. He is Being Himself -- possessing all that He is in one act of being, whole and entire. He is the perfection of all that is, possessing completely the perfection of all that is made. There is no limitation in Him. He must be a spirit: pure, simple, with no parts. For something with parts must arrange the parts in relationship. They must be extended in space. If something has parts, it is possible to add parts, or to subtract parts, or to rearrange parts. Something with parts is subject to change and thus subject to time which, the physicists tell us, is the measure of change. But God is beyond space and time. He is infinite. He is eternal. So much the philosophers can say. This is a thin and abstract God. I don't know about you but praying, "Oh, great, necessary Being, we praise you for your non-contingency!" leaves me emotionally and imaginatively unsatisfied. Aquinas was quite clear. These speculations and ruminations about the nature of God are mere preambles to faith. To penetrate the Mystery requires revelation. "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life." (Jn 3:16) From this passage we learn some things about God. We learn that there is a possibility of perishing and of salvation. We learn that God gives life, and that God loves. We see that God is mysteriously connected with someone called "the Son". Jesus tells us in Matthew's Gospel, "All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him." (Mt 11:27) Jesus tells Philip in John's Gospel, "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father." (Jn 14:9) This means that the infant in Mary’s womb, the babe in the manger at Bethlehem, the twelve year old child in the Temple, the itinerant preacher who walked the hills of Galilee healing and forgiving sins, the King of the Jews who died a criminal’s death on a cross and rose from the dead are ALL images of God the Father. St. Paul tells us: "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things,and in him all things hold together." (Col 1:15-17) This dovetails nicely with what St. John says in his Gospel: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be." (Jn 1:1-3) God knows All. In one sense He is Knowledge. Above all He knows Himself. Since there is in God no separation between His Act and His Being, there is no separation between God and His knowledge of Himself. So His knowledge of Himself, His expression of Himself also possesses fully all that He is. God’s Knowledge, His Word, His Image of Himself is also fully a person, is in fact also God. Through His Word, God created. God said, “Let there be…..” and it was! God knows Himself. And this knowledge of Himself is also a Person, the Son in relationship with the Father. And where there is a relationship of knowing and giving there is love. The Father and the Son, the Speaker and the Word, the One who Knows and the Image Known, love each other perfectly. There is nothing held back in this love. The Father and the Son communicate themselves fully in this love, and this Love possesses all that the Father and the Son have. This Love is also a Person, fully God, whom we call the Holy Spirit. St. Paul exhorts us: "Bear with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace." (Eph4:2-3) and "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the holy Spirit be with all of you." (2Cor 13:14) The Holy Spirit is the Love, the Unity, the Communion of the Father and the Son. Jesus speaks of Him as the river of Living Water, as the Advocate who stands with us, as the Spirit of Truth. "But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.h He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you." (Jn 16:13-16) He reveals the Father and the Son to us. The Holy Spirit is thus the Principle who brings us light and life. For it is in having the Life and Love of God revealed to us -- but not just revealed -- infused in us, poured into us -- what we call Sanctifying Grace -- that we ourselves live! We experience the power of God the Father, who spoke and out of nothing created all things. We experience the redeeming love of God the Son, who gave His life as a ransom for many so that we might not perish. We experience the sanctifying life of God the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who binds us together in One Body. With St. Paul we say: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Praised be Jesus Christ!