|Father Perry D. Leiker|
Equally mysterious as the trinity itself is the "how": "How" did we discover this?
The easy answer is that God revealed it, and we hear that most clearly in John's gospel, especially in the great discourse after the Last Supper — Jesus speaks clearly and directly about his relationship to the Father and the Holy Spirit. The communion between them is intimate and completely transparent. Everything has been given over freely to the other and they share all because of their love for one another.
The communion among the three persons of God forms perfect community. In the most striking language, John prays that they (the disciples) might be one, as Jesus is one with the Father. But "how" God is three in one, and what that "looks" like, remains mystery.
Jesus' revelation of this is simple, but the truth of "how" it could be, remains unclear. It seems, however, that simply stating this truth is, in itself, remarkable. We say that God, almighty and everlasting, and always known as the"only" God, is three in one. This conjures up the image of an atom, a particle of matter in which electronic energy zooms around with perfect and rhythmic speed, producing energy and sustaining all matter. The very identity of God is this union of three sharing, giving, receiving, loving, revealing, and accepting, one another always and everywhere. This communion is love. This communion is being. This communion is what all community must be: a sharing, giving and receiving of love and life from one another.
What distinguishes community from a mob is not the gathering of people but the energy among them. A mob's energy usually does not reflect love and a common purpose for good. A mob's energy is often fueled by fear and hatred and in an instant can turn on anyone, even itself. Whatever holds a mob together can easily be manipulated and at least semi-controlled; it is always precarious to depend upon a desired outcome from a mob.
A community, on the other hand, usually generates good energy and love and actually seeks to grow in common understanding while seeking common goals. Jesus' disciples were a small community of faith. What stood before Jesus on the cross was clearly a mob.
The trinity is not something that can be explained or solved, but something that is to be encountered. Knowing the divine community — God — can and does transform our human community.
Father Perry D. Leiker is St. Bernard parish administrator. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.