Rev. Fr. Bonnie Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

As a young kid, I asked my dad a question that put him on the spot. For the first time, I watched my spontaneous and eloquent dad stutter while scratching his head for a befitting answer. My question was, “Who is God’s dad?” You can now see why my dad found himself in a fix trying to figure out an answer to my “weird.” theological inquiry.

You may like to know his response which stuck with me. He said, “You are too young to ask such a question or even think about it; you may even die doing so.” I was scared and had to snap out of that thought; I didn’t wish to die anyway.

Later in life, I discovered that age had no relevance in the ability to figure out a complete explanation of the essence of God. In fact, I came to confront another mystery, the One God being a community of three persons! How do we explain or understand this mystery? Let’s try!

The Holy Trinity: A Mystery, Doctrine, and Dogma

How can three persons be one at the same time? Logic and math have no explanation in this calculation. By definition, a mystery refers to a hidden truth that is not easily accessible to everyone. But the mystery of the Trinity differs from other mysteries because it is not accessible to anyone except God (1 Cor. 2:11).

The doctrine of the Holy Trinity states that there is One God who exists eternally as three distinct divine persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. So, each of the three persons is God and Lord (but they are not three Gods or Lords). They all share one essence and substance.

This teaching or doctrine of the Church is also a dogma. That means it is a binding truth held by the church that cannot be denied or refuted publicly without disciplinary consequences. The Holy Trinity is the one language that all Christians speak. So, any denomination that does not support or accept the doctrine of the Holy Trinity falls short of the apex of the Christian faith.

The Holy Trinity in Creation and the Scriptures

We have the license to seek the semblance of the Holy Trinity in creation, leveraging the words of St. Paul to the Romans (1:20):

For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

On the strength of this scripture, we make bold to establish some of the three dimensionalities that are evident in creation. Every human creature has a body, soul, and spirit. Time can only be in the past, present, or future. Life on earth can only be in three locations, land, sea, or air.

While the scriptures did not use the word Trinity, we have undeniable references that sustain the fact that there are three persons in one God. In the scriptures, we find God using the first-person plural pronoun “us” to describe certain divine actions, for instance:

“Let us make man in our image after our likeness” (Gen. 1:26).

 “Let us go down and confuse their language” (Gen. 11:7).

“Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” (Isaiah 6:8).

Furthermore, we see pointers to the Holy Trinity in some of the statements of Jesus Christ. For example, while describing the activities of the Holy Spirit, whom he asked the Father to send, Jesus said, “All that the Father has is mine. For this reason, I said that he would take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:14).

Finally, in the great commission to the disciples after the resurrection and before the ascension, Jesus instructed them, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit.” (Matt. 28:19). Here we understand that baptism will be incomplete without the three persons indicating their co-equality and mutual importance.

Sustainable Lessons from the Holy Trinity

We first need to understand and appreciate that we are structured after the Holy Trinity, so we should function as reflections of the image and likeness of the Triune God.

Harmonious Unity: Gwendolyn Brooks once said, “We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” This statement fits into the nature and character of the Holy Trinity, which is undivided unity. The Father’s business is also the business of the Son and the Holy Spirit. None functions apart from the others.

Our world is divided today because most people do not understand that unity is not the same as uniformity or sameness. We do not need to be of the same color and language to be united. Diversity is a beautiful thing, as we see in the Holy Trinity. In fact, there will be no unity without diversity because there will be nothing to unite.

However, unity cannot be possible without love. People can come together, but without the gluing power of love, they stand the chance of dispersing.

Intentional Collaboration: A very important lesson from the Holy Trinity is that we need each other just like the persons of the Holy Trinity would constantly need each other to function. Have you imagined why the Father would always say, “Let Us” or the Son would constantly reference the Father?  God knows that we need each other, which is why we have neighbors, siblings, moms, and dads—notice also that we have two hands, one to help ourselves and the other to help others.

Life becomes more complicated and harder without our intentional collaboration. Of course, the Church is an ideal example of collaboration where each has a role to play to the end, that we have a functional body of Christ.  

On this celebration of the deepest mystery of God, the Holy Trinity, let us hold fast to the invitation to align ourselves to the core values of the persons of the Trinity, which include unity and intentional collaboration with others.

God bless you!

Fr. Bonnie 

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