Legend tells us that St. Patrick used the three-leafed shamrock to teach about the three persons in one God. It is an ingenious pedagogical device, very neat and understandable. But it does little to explain the mystery we call God. While the readings for today do not really describe the divine essence, they do throw some light on ways in which the triune God touches our lives, as the Apostles’ Creed testifies.
“I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.” In the first reading we hear primordial wisdom, the only witness to God’s creative activity, describe the ease and artistry with which the almighty fashioned our universe. The splendor of creation is but a reflection of the magnificence of the wondrous creator. For our part, all we need to do is look around to behold the expanse of the sky that covers and the generosity of the earth that feeds us. The natural world is a canvas upon which is painted awesome beauty; it is a storehouse of nourishment and delight. This all comes to us from the hand of the Creator.
“I believe in Jesus Christ, [God’s] only son, our Lord.” In all Paul’s writings, the great Christological teacher insists that it is Jesus who saves us. In today’s reading, he further explains how each person of the Trinity plays a role in that salvation. It begins with faith in Jesus. This faith justifies us, thus establishing peace with God. This new relationship of peace is the basis of our hope. Furthermore, Paul declares that “the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.” In this short reading we find the faith, hope and love that must be the ground of our Christian living. We also see how each one of these virtues is related to the other two.
“I believe in the Holy Spirit.” In the Gospel account for today, Jesus refers to this Spirit as the spirit of truth. As in the passage from Paul, here too all three divine persons work in our lives. Jesus says that his father has given all things to him; Jesus himself teaches us truths that we will not yet be able to understand; finally it is the Spirit who glorifies Jesus and guides us in our search for the truth of Jesus’ teaching. We might say that Jesus teaches us what the Father wants us to know so that we can live lives of integrity. Because this teaching is too deep for us to comprehend, the Spirit brings us to an understanding of it.
Today’s readings help us to realize that we have been saved by our triune God and are continually brought by this same God to a deeper appreciation of the truths of our life. That life is one of union with God and with one another. The unity within the Trinity is the model placed before us today. The three divine persons work together for the salvation of all. So too must we work together for the good of all.