A Mysterious Life
Solemnity of the Most Blessed Trinity

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

“Life is a mystery, not a problem,” declared our professor in philosophy. We were then caught up in the philosophy of personalism. The discusssions on problem and mystery took interesting turns as each tried to give examples of the difference. One classic example given was, if one is sick with cancer, it is a medical problem to the doctors but a mystery to the afflicted who cries out, “Why me?” One of our classmates offered his own example, “If I pass this subject, it is a mystery.”

Action starter: The best way to introduce someone to God is through Jesus.

The professor took pains to explain the difference. A problem is something that engagess one’s rational faculties and admits of a solution. If one works hard on the problem, he may come up with various alternatives and eventually accept a satisfactory solution that ends the discussions – until another problem comes along. In scientific circles, these alternative solutions are called hypotheses. A hypothesis is tested and may be rejected or accepted as acceptable explanations to the problem.

On the other hand, a mystery is one that is “inexhaustible” in terms of explanation. Its explanations go beyond what is empirically verifiable. Such are the mysteries of life, like love, death, human destiny, and God. These issues have caught up the best minds of the planet for many centuries, and still they are open for discussions. On the issue of God’s existence for example, we can argue endlessly, but as a thinker summed it up, “for those who believe, no explanation is necessary, and for those who do not believe, no explanation is satisfactory.”

This brings us to the mystery of the Holy Trinity. The good sister who taught us in catechism class said that a mystery is a truth we accept but we cannot fully understand, such as the mystery of the Trinity. God is One, yet is Three Divine Persons. This defies rational understanding, “How can three be one?” Catechists over the centuries have tried to come up with something close to an explanation in order to satisfy inquisitive pupils’ minds. One teacher lit three matchstics and put them together, “See? One fire but three sticks.” In Ireland, the national symbol is the shamrock leaf - one leaf with three corners. Legend says, St. Patrick used this to explain the Trinity. After all the explanations, including very elaborate ones such as that of St. Augustine, we still end up with the mystery -- God is One-in-Three.

There is another approach to understanding the mystery that is beyond the seeking for rational explanations. It is the way of “entering the mystery” or “living the mystery”. One may not understand it fully, but one engages himself in the consequences of believing the mystery. God is a mystery, but when I believe, then I live in a manner wherein God makes a difference in my life. That one lives, only to die is seemingly absurd and a mystery. But if I believe that there is a purpose and meaning to life then I try to live with such a purpose in mind. Love seems not to make sense. People fall in and out of love. Love has led people to despair and to heights of inspiration. Acts of selfishnessand acts of heroism are attributed to love. The best way to know real love is to love. One enters into the mystery of loving.

And so this Sunday, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, I suggest that the best way to understand the mystery is to enter into the life of the Trinity. To believe in the Trinity is to believe in community. God is a communion of Three Persons. To believe in the Triune God is to believe in God who is love.

Because God is love, God decided to share this life of love with us by creating us and inviting us to live within the circle of Love, God’s family. God wants to be known by us and so introduced Himself through Jesus His Son. Jesus showed us the human face of God. God remains present among us even today as the Spirit who animates the Church and the world. The Spirit of love and life is leading human history back to God.

This, I believe, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”