Last Sunday we celebrated the feast of the Holy Trinity. Christians believe in one God – as we say in the Creed: “We believe in one God” but the Creed goes on to refer to “the Father, the almighty” and “the Lord, Jesus Christ” and “the Holy Spirit” – three Persons in the one God, all equally God.
The Sign of the Cross we make before and after our prayers is: In The Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; while our prayer of praise is: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Also, St Paul prays that “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Corinthians 13:14).
The Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths all teach that there is only one God, but for Christians there is the added complication of the Trinity. Where did the idea of three Persons in one God come from? Why did Christian theologians start to speak about a Trinity?
Theologians didn’t invent the Trinity. The early Christians (whether they liked it or not, and some of them didn’t) had to face this fact: that the life of Jesus – his works and what he said – meant that God, though one, was also a relationship of three persons. In the Gospel, Jesus is quoted as saying to his disciples: “Go then to all peoples everywhere …. baptise them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). And St Paul says that: God’s spirit joins himself/herself to our spirits to declare that we are God’s children (Romans 8:17). The Trinity, then, highlights the importance of relationships.
Well, all of us have relationships: parents relate to their children, children to parents and to each other; and all of us relate to friends and neighbours as well as the people we meet at work or in social gatherings. Even though each one of us is an individual and not quite like anyone else, we cannot really live cut off from others. The poet, John Donne, once famously said that “No man is an island, complete in itself”.
Most relationships, however, whether within families, at work, or with friends – have their difficulties, even close relationships. It is simply part of the human predicament. At times it can make life difficult and even make us fearful of engaging with those we don’t like or get on with. And it is often the small, seemingly insignificant things that can cause the most problems.
This may be even more of an issue for us at this time of lockdown when we are thrown together more than usual and there can be a tendency to get on each others’ nerves! But it is at times like these that we need to remember that God, who is himself a relationship (albeit a perfect one), calls on us to be positive, not negative.
Someone has said that JOY is the infallible sign of God’s presence. If so, then a smile, a word of encouragement or an act of kindness immediately expresses God’s love.
As my mother is fond of saying: a smile costs nothing but it makes such a difference!