No matter what you have heard, it is not so hard to understand the Trinity. Simply think back to the great story we have been celebrating for many weeks.
Let’s tell it one more time.
God the Father invited people on earth to a lasting and loving relationship with him and with each other. “I want to be your God and I want you to be my people. My love for you is tender and precious. Won’t you love me in return?”
Some understood and entered into the agreement. Abraham, Isaac, Moses, Elijah, Elisha, ,just to begin the list. But they and the rest of us humans kept choosing things easier to grab, like money and honors—barns full of them.
Our refusal of God’s love became widespread. How did God react to such rejection?
My people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me. For your sake I scourged your captors and their first-born sons, but you brought your scourges down on me! My people, answer me (from “The Reproaches” on Good Friday)!
God tried a new and quite brilliant way. “Since I am all love and nothing but love, I will go out to them totally. As love does, I will become one of them. I will live humanity to its depths, and they will see love spelled out.”
So God was born as a human called Jesus. He was the heart of God, now made flesh. One with the Father but different as well. And so the world knew about two persons in one God. Jesus told people to love God above all things and their neighbors as themselves.
But many human beings had been hurt and betrayed, living with their own selfishness and greed, as well as their mixed-up motives, co-existing motives with those of others too. Love can get lost in such a world.
It was into this ocean of cruelty and loss that God the Son plunged. He dove all the way to down to death. It was a display of the most profound insides of God’s love.
To that point the disciples knew only two parts of God, Jesus and his Father (and they were not very sure about these). So before he left, Christ said this to them (paraphrase):
Philip, and the rest of you, if you know me you know the Father. He is in me fully, and after I go back I will make a home in you by sending the Holy Spirit. This Comforter will be the very love that I and the Father have for each other and for you. That way I will be with you until the end of time!
He was talking about the third person of the Trinity, which nestles close to our souls if we let it. Only if we let it. The Holy Spirit is graceful and deep and comforting, like a blanket in cold winter. It is the love between the Father and Son.
So how can God interact with us in these three very different ways?
By being “plural,” that is, by being three “persons.” How can three be one? By not letting the number three be a divider but a plus sign. All three, in a great dynamic of love, are so close to one another that they are One God.
Now we understand?