When we speak of our home, we do not think of the four walls of the house, but of the people who live there: our mother, father, brothers and sisters. Have you ever entered the house where no one is waiting for you now? Does it make sense to live in the cold emptiness of those walls? Does it make sense to live in the void of a faith? The Trinitarian faith belongs to us through the baptismal sacrament and places us in a family: ‘I believe in God the Father, in Jesus Christ the Lord and in the Holy Spirit, the Comforter’. We do not speak of a theory, but of Persons. I recognize: this is not easy.
The gesture of marking one's forehead often occurs unconsciously; sometimes out of superstition; sometimes in deep awareness. But of what? To answer, we enter the heart of the baptismal faith. It is, in fact, the first question asked to the baptizing: What did you come to do in the Church of God? What you are looking for?
Getting to the heart of an issue means pondering the most probing questions. And we have many. However, here it is not simply a human question, it is a supernatural one, which nonetheless affects us. If I take it for granted that what I am told about faith is enough for me, then the discussion is closed. Does seeing a beautiful building externally speaking mean knowing the internal beauty? To think that there is a God, is to know Him? Opening the door in some way to 'peek' into the mystery of God is not impossible, especially if we are accompanied; even more, if our companion is someone who belongs to you and speaks to us appropriately. Of course one can write about God, but it is not the same as knowing and encountering Him.
Our ‘guide’ to this ‘mysterious’ encounter, where we could never have thought of being introduced, is Jesus himself; He allows us, at the same time, to have the intelligence and the encounter with God. Many have spoken of the Trinity; in the study of theology, there is a treatise and in theological universities it is an obligatory part of learning; the Fathers of the Church and theologians also wrote so much and so well; this is also studied. What I can offer here, then, is little or perhaps inept. But the source is the most authoritative: Christ.
Indeed, it is He who reveals to us the intimate and true nature of God with which we human beings are grappling: God is love. God is life. God is communion of Persons. The life of God is not that of a solitary being, closed in on Himself; it is Trinitarian, it is communion, it is open! Here 'dwells', so to speak, the Father (a term analogous to human nature), the Son, whose blessed name is Jesus, and the Comforter, that is, the Spirit, the one who gives life.
To speak of the Holy Trinity is not a discussion of mathematical formula or an algorithm; not even simply of a postulate of the Christian faith; we refer to the life that is in God and that makes itself known: in the waters of the Jordan a voice, that of the Father, accredits Jesus in our world and indicates him as his Son in whom to believe: "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased"(Mt 3:17); in turn, Jesus will call him: "Abba, Father" (Mk 14:36); it is the expression of a familiar relationship in a relationship of 'nature', which we then find again in the splendid prayer: " I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth" (Mt 11:25); an invocation in which Jesus explains that no one can know the Father except the Son, who is His revealer.
Yet is this just a provocation? Philip, the curious and pensive disciple, a friend of Nathanael, asks the Master insistently about the meaning of his relationship with the Father: Why do you tell so much about the Father? "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us" (John 14:8). Impatience or need to understand?
Those who are in doubt are as if surrounded by clouds and tend to want to escape; but if they are daring to enter like Moses in the Shekinà, in the Holy Tent, they find themselves in the presence of the Most High, who made a cloud descend between Moses and the people and spoke to Him (cf. Ex 33:7-11); Moses then felt protected as in the hollow of a cliff, or rather as in the curve of a loving hand (cf. Ex 33:21-23).
Jesus replied to Philip: “I have been with you for a long time and you have not known me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say 'Show us the Father'? Don't you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? " (John 14: 9-10). Don’t you believe that I chose you out of love, that your life is precious to me, that the leper just healed is at the center of God’s mercy, that God is not indifferent to the tears of a father and a mother? “Believe me that I am in the Father and that the Father is in me" (John 14:11): the works that I do are equally his.
At this point, if we allow ourselves to be accompanied even more deeply in the divine life, we perceive that Jesus also speaks to us of a 'gift', or rather of a Person who will be sent: "It is good for you - he says - that I must leave, because if I do not leave, the Comforter will not come to you” (John 16:7). This Person therefore has a name: Comforter, whom Jesus will send to the nascent Church; the Apostles will learn to know him well, because on the Day of Pentecost he will come as a fire and consecrate them in the truth, he will be for them a companion, an active and sanctifying force that pushes them: they will then be able to drive out demons, heal the sick, announce the Word of Jesus, to endure persecution, to forgive, instruct, pray, consecrate and have the same strength as the risen Lord, to enter into them the same sentiments of God. They will constitute the first Community of believers, the Church, for the announcement of the Kingdom of God and they will always have the perception of the unifying presence of the Comforter, so much to say, as in the delicate question of the admission of pagans to faith without going through the Mosaic Law, of having acted together with the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 15:28), who guides and moves the steps of the Church; this awareness gave the certainty of constant divine accompaniment. St. Paul will then explain better that in faith "The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ" (Rom 8:16-17); God also accompanies history, and is never indifferent to the history of human wrongdoing: wars, hatred, discrimination, selfishness, exclusions, exploitation of creation.
The Church, therefore, was born of the Trinity as the People of God the Father, the Body of Christ, the Temple of the Holy Spirit, in which the Father is the architect, Jesus the humble worker Son of the Father and the Holy Spirit, the guarantor that the Church will be forever in the truth brought by Christ.
Once a child, during a catechism class, told me that he did not understand the Trinity; I took three matches, distinct; I lit them and joined them together; three flames formed one and, at the same time, undivided; then I separated them: here are three flames, same light, same heat, same energy; then I united them together: one more flame, one light, one heat. He said he understood. In truth it was enough for then.
God, as in a whirlwind that goes beyond human reasonableness, gathers us into His life; from that life we come and we will return to it. Holy Trinity, the one God: He belongs to us because He is our divine family, our welcoming, eternal home.
Fernando Cardinal Filoni
(June 5, 2020)