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Bible Reflections View Comments

Live the Mystery of the Trinity
By Diane M. Houdek
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, May 26, 2013
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More ink has been spilled on the mystery of the Trinity than any other doctrine in Catholicism. Many people can tell you that St. Patrick used the shamrock to demonstrate the three-in-one reality of the Trinity. But it’s difficult to move from this image to an academic definition of the Trinity.

While all analogies ultimately fail, taken together, they can give us myriad ways to begin to grasp this great truth of our faith. Celebrating this feast reminds us that God will always be beyond our human understanding and beyond human control. There’s something comforting in that. We want God to be all powerful, all encompassing, eternal, and ever present. A god small enough for humans to control is too small to do any good.

The challenges faced by the early Church in understanding the Trinity had much to do with the need to reconcile the strongly monotheistic (one God) tradition of Judaism with the tendency of the pagans to have multiple gods for a variety of tasks and circumstances. When Jesus says he and the Father are one, he’s speaking of a completely new concept.

Through the centuries theologians needed to fit their descriptions and definitions of the Trinity into established ways of thinking and talking about reality. The words academics used to talk about faith changed with different currents in philosophy. What didn’t change was the one God—Father, Son, and Spirit.

One of the deepest truths that the doctrine of the Trinity reveals to us is that God is in relationship. The union of Father, Son and Spirit is a fluid one. The Trinity is always working, always moving, animating the world with divine life. We see this especially in John’s Gospel. Jesus speaks easily of his union with the Father and of the Spirit who moves in their midst.

It can be difficult to pin down John’s words. We understand them in an intuitive, mystical way, but we can’t define and explain them to our own—or anyone else’s—real satisfaction.

The people who selected the sacred texts for our lectionary reached back to the words of Proverbs, describing the Wisdom of God present at creation. Like Patrick’s shamrock, our first reading roots this ethereal mystery in the things of the earth: fountains, springs of water, mountains and hills, clods of earth, the sky, the sea. Wisdom is described as a craftsman, someone working to shape earthly materials into something both useful and beautiful.

As we move into the summer months—a time for gardens, visits to the beach or mountains—we might know in our experience of God’s creation something of that oneness. Our hobbies might give us an understanding of God’s creative spirit. Certainly our relationships with those closest to us and most dearly beloved can suggest to us something of this divine union.

This feast asks us to ponder a concept that can easily become abstract, something we dismiss it as irrelevant to our daily lives. But the truth at the heart of this feast is the love of God—so great and all-encompassing that it is in constant movement within and around all of creation.

Instead of trying to “figure out” the Trinity, celebrate it by doing something special with those whose love shows you every day the face of God.


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Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang and Companions: This first native Korean priest was the son of Korean converts. His father, Ignatius Kim, was martyred during the persecution of 1839 and was beatified in 1925. After Baptism at the age of 15, Andrew traveled 1,300 miles to the seminary in Macao, China. After six years he managed to return to his country through Manchuria. That same year he crossed the Yellow Sea to Shanghai and was ordained a priest. Back home again, he was assigned to arrange for more missionaries to enter by a water route that would elude the border patrol. He was arrested, tortured and finally beheaded at the Han River near Seoul, the capital. Paul Chong Hasang was a lay apostle and married man, aged 45. 
<p>Christianity came to Korea during the Japanese invasion in 1592 when some Koreans were baptized, probably by Christian Japanese soldiers. Evangelization was difficult because Korea refused all contact with the outside world except for bringing taxes to Beijing annually. On one of these occasions, around 1777, Christian literature obtained from Jesuits in China led educated Korean Christians to study. A home Church began. When a Chinese priest managed to enter secretly a dozen years later, he found 4,000 Catholics, none of whom had ever seen a priest. Seven years later there were 10,000 Catholics. Religious freedom came in 1883. </p><p>When Pope John Paul II visited Korea in 1984 he canonized, besides Andrew and Paul, 98 Koreans and three French missionaries who had been martyred between 1839 and 1867. Among them were bishops and priests, but for the most part they were lay persons: 47 women, 45 men. </p><p>Among the martyrs in 1839 was Columba Kim, an unmarried woman of 26. She was put in prison, pierced with hot tools and seared with burning coals. She and her sister Agnes were disrobed and kept for two days in a cell with condemned criminals, but were not molested. After Columba complained about the indignity, no more women were subjected to it. The two were beheaded. A boy of 13, Peter Ryou, had his flesh so badly torn that he could pull off pieces and throw them at the judges. He was killed by strangulation. Protase Chong, a 41-year-old noble, apostatized under torture and was freed. Later he came back, confessed his faith and was tortured to death. </p><p>Today, there are almost 5.1 million Catholics in Korea.</p> American Catholic Blog We never think of connecting violence with our tongues. But the first weapon, the most cruel weapon, is the tongue. Examine what part your tongue has played in creating peace or violence. We can really wound a person, we can kill a person, with our tongue.

 
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