Where in the Bible does it say that Jesus is God? What is the chapter and verse where Jesus calls Himself God? We know He’s the Son of God. We know He calls Himself the Son of Man (Mt 24:30), the Messiah (Mk 14:60-62), the Anointed One; the Truth, the Life, the Resurrection (Jn 14:6)…but where does it say that Jesus is GOD? These and other similar questions were in the mind of the first Christian communities.
Jesus never explicitly calls Himself God, but many times He speaks and acts like only God does. Jesus forgives sins when only God can forgive sins—a cause for scandal to the Pharisees. Jesus gives the Spirit of Truth and Life to his followers, when it is only God who gives that Spirit. It is God who sends prophets with messages and signs, and now Jesus is sending his disciples to preach the message, the Good News. The early Christian communities would say, Maybe Jesus was very special prophet- an exceptional one, but a just a prophet! But when finding many passages in which people adored Jesus with a worship only due to God, they tried another approach, Maybe he’s really God in disguise – He only looks like a man, but He’s God. Eventually, they concluded that Christ Jesus was and is true God and also true man.
Throughout the course of history, the Church has looked for creative ways to preach the mystery of the Holy Trinity, so St. Patrick speaks of the Shamrock: three leaves, one plant. St. Cyril would use the imagery of the flame that has light, heat, and fire – three aspects, one flame. The reality is, of course, the Trinity is a mystery.
Out of the Mouths of Babes
There was a priest making visits to CCD, getting to know the kids. He goes into one classroom and asks what they are studying. The Blessed Trinity!, they respond.
— “What is the Blessed Trinity?” he asks one little girl.
— “The Bwessed Twinity is thwee persons in one God.”
— “What did you say? I don’t understand!”
— “It’s a mystewy. You’w not supposed to ondostand.”
Of course, a mystery is something that escapes our intellect. But in Greek, the word mystery means especially something that we can only begin to understand once we begin to live it. Think of a three- or four-year old coming up and asking you: What is love? What does it mean? We can approach it by saying that love is what you and I have, is what your mom and I have, what your teachers and friends have for you. But at the end of the day, we will most likely end up saying, You will know, you will know…once you experience the mystery of love, to want to give yourself to another person and devote yourself to making another person happy.
Look in the Mirror
Same thing with the Blessed Trinity: it is the mystery of something we begin to understand once we begin to live it. There are complex theological theories of what the Blessed Trinity could be. One of them, for example, is that, when you look into a mirror you see the reflection of your body, a very superficial reflection of who you are, just your body. That reflection in the mirror says nothing about your past, your relationships, your dreams, your family. It is just a reflection of your physical body, so it is very imperfect. But with God, if He would see Himself in a mirror, He would see and love Himself to such perfection, that the image itself would be a Person, his Son, and his Son would respond to that love so perfectly that that correspondence would also engender a Person, the Holy Spirit.
We see that there’s this dynamism within God. He is not just one person, but three persons that love one another. God is a community, a family. Love is not something God DOES, but who He IS, and we can only really love when there’s an OTHER to love.
OK, that sounds interesting, but what does that have to do with my everyday life?
Mic Drop and the “Three Gods”
Years ago, before joining the seminary, some friends and I from college decided to make a trip to a small town that had just suffered a natural disaster and try to help them rebuild homes, rebuild churches, and just to get to know the people. We wanted to meet with them personally, so we decided to make house-to-house visits. We came up to one house, knocked on the door, and it cracked open.
“We’re college students visiting here, and we just wanted to get to know you and share our faith.”
“Faith? What faith? What are you? Oh, you’re Catholics? Ok (Phew).”
Door opened and she greeted us, and I asked about her sense of uneasiness in receiving us.
She explained that they had been having these groups of people visiting all the houses: very well-dressed, some of them know their Bible very well, and they’re very aggressive in their points. Two weeks prior, a woman had knocked, invited herself in, and said,
“You’re a Catholic, right? Why do you believe in three gods?”
“I don’t believe in three gods; I believe in one God in three persons!”
“‘No, you believe in three gods! One is named Jesus, the other is a Ghost, and the other is like the Father of the other two.’ She brought out her Bible, and she started quoting passages, this and that, Old Testament and New Testament…I started getting upset!”
“What happened? What did you respond?”—I asked.
“I told her, ‘Look… I don’t know anything about John 3:16 or Matthew 1-2-3. What I know is that I am a daughter to my parents; I am a mother to my children; and I am a wife to my husband; and that doesn’t make me three different women! I am one woman.'” …She just stood up and left.
The Best Investment
So, how is the mystery of the Blessed Trinity relevant to my life? Well, if you and I are made in the image and likeness of God, and God is relationships of love, then you and I are creatures of relationships; and meaningful relationships are really what gives fullness to our lives. And so, perhaps the best way to define ourselves as a species would not be to call ourselves Homo Sapiens Sapiens (creatures that think and reason), but rather as Homo Amans (creatures capable of love). This is the best investment we can make in our lives, our relationships.
If you find that your marriage is starting to go downhill, to invest time, energy, maybe even financial resources for a counselor, and to actively work on your relationship of marriage, is worth it.
If you want to be a better man, a better woman, you need to be a better father, a better mother, a better coworker, a better friend; to spend time with your children, to live the Sunday with your family, to live your workplace as a source of your sanctification and holiness, with those relationships that you cultivate.
If we want to be better human beings, we must work at having better relationships.
So if God the Father is a Being a relationship, and we are in his image and likeness, we are called work on those relationships, to involve God in them and bring healing to them…
healing in the quarrels between siblings, parents and children, friends and coworkers.
Let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God the Son, the daughter of God the Father, the Spouse of God the Holy Spirit, to guide us, to show us the way.
This post is also available in: Spanish