Reflecting upon the mystery of mysteries
Published on -5/24/2013, 10:02 AM
Sunday is Trinity Sunday, when Christians reflect on a God who is triune: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Richard Dawkins, an ardent atheist, in his book, "The God Delusion," said the Trinity is the total nonsense of Christians who believe in one God who is three persons, and defend this contradiction by calling it a mystery.
They postulate an absurdity and then escape through the loophole of a mystery, he contends.
He is right. He is also very wrong.
If divinity is entirely within the realm of human logic, comparable to a higher level of mathematics, Dawkins has a point. But such a God is not the God of Christian faith. The God atheists do not believe in, a God confined within human knowledge, Christians also deny. Our God transcends the level of our existence. Comprehending the infinite God with a finite mind is a contradiction.
St. Augustine said, "If you have understood, it is not God." Pascal wrote, "God alone can speak well of God."
Christians speak of the Holy Trinity as a mystery of our faith. Such a mystery is not an unsolvable problem, such as a murder mystery or an enigmatic person. It is a divinely revealed truth beyond our mind's ability to grasp fully, yet it gives a meaning and a pattern to our human life.
The great mysteries of the Christian faith -- the Trinity, the Incarnation and the Paschal Mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ -- are not puzzles to be solved but divine truths to be relived in our own lives. Such mysteries were not discovered by clever humans, but were revealed to us by God to offer us a glimpse of divine life on which to pattern our own life and to give meaning to human existence, which often seems so meaningless.
Mary, the mother of Christ, followed the pattern of the Trinity in her own life: She accepted the Father's will and conceived the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
A triune God is a God of relationships. The divine relationship of love shared by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit offers a vision of what human relationships can be. We know we are made in the image of the triune God of love when we live in relationships where we love and are loved. The Trinity is ultimately a mystery of love, which is a pattern for the mystery of love in our own lives.
Atheists, within their own limited framework, do have a logical consistency. But people of faith insist there is more to life than analytical logic.
Reason and faith are the two wings on which we can soar above a meaningless existence. Faith opens us to the mystery of love revealed in the Trinity.
St. John wrote, "God is love and whoever lives in love lives in God and God in him." (1 John 4:16)
Father Earl Meyer is from the Capuchin Center for Spiritual Life, Victoria.