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When we talk of the Triune God, what do we exactly mean?

It was Descartes, a French Philosopher, who spoke of the difference between ‘the god of the Philosophers’ and ‘the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’. It is the difference between God as studied and thought about intellectually, and God as experienced in the ups and down of human living. It is the God of experience, the God we meet in everyday life, whom we celebrate on the feast of the Trinity. The Trinity is rather like the Scientist, Einstein’s theory of relativity: it is easy to say but impossible to comprehend. It is a mystery beyond our grasp. We certainly do not know if that is all there is. The Trinity is what God has chosen to reveal, it is only a glimpse. God is experienced in many ways: as source of life; as the ‘mind’ behind the wonders of the universe; one who cares, one who can set us free; as one who is closer to us than our very selves, and one who is far beyond all our imaginings.

Jesus’ mission is to reveal the glory of God to us – a Trinity of persons – God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and to unite us with God in a community of love. The ultimate end, the purpose for which God created us, is the entry of God’s creatures into the perfect unity of the blessed Trinity.

The Jews understood God as Creator and Father of all that he made (Deut. 32:6) and they understood the nation of Israel as God’s firstborn son (Ex. 4:22). Jesus reveals the Father in an unheard of sense. He is eternally Father by his relationship to his only Son, who, reciprocally, is Son only in relation to his Father (Jn. 16:12-15; Matt. 11:27). The Spirit, likewise, is inseparably one with the Father and the Son. The mission of Jesus and of the Holy Spirit is the same. That is why Jesus tells his disciples that the Spirit will reveal the glory of the Father and the Son and will speak what is true.

Before his Passover, Jesus revealed the Holy Spirit as the “Paraclete” and Helper who will be with Jesus’ disciples to teach and guide them “into all the truth” (Jn. 14:17, 26; 16:13). In baptism we are called to share in the life of the Holy Trinity here on earth in faith and after death in eternal light.

The question for us is: How then can we grow in our understanding and experience of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? It is the Holy Spirit who reveals the Father and the Son to us and who gives us the gift of faith to know and understand the truth of God’s word. Through baptism we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Lord renews the gift of the Spirit in each one of us as we open our hearts with expectant faith and yield to his work in our lives. Jesus promised his disciples that he would send them the Spirit of truth who would be their Teacher and Guide. Ask the Lord Jesus to renew in you the gift of the Holy Spirit who strengthens us in the seven-fold gifts of wisdom and understanding, right judgment and courage, knowledge and reverence, and holy fear in God’s presence.

The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager 2019. Website @

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