Three in One?

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity (A)

How does 1 + 1 + 1 equal one? With God, all things are possible, but that doesn’t make it any easier for us to grasp. St. Patrick presented the shamrock as an example of how three can be one. Other symbols such as the pretzel, the Celtic triquetra, and overlapping rings for example, have been used with limited success to analogize how three entities can be understood as one while each maintains its differences.

Another method used by early church leaders bypasses the geometry altogether and likens the Trinity to a Greek dance called the “Perichoresis.” Maybe you’ve seen it at a Greek wedding, or even have participated in it: dancers hold hands and rotate in a circle, and as they whirl, people on the outside are invited to enter, causing the circle to increase. It is a playful, yet meaningful dance of belonging and union. Perichoresis as a metaphor for the Trinity envisions the three persons: The Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit engaged in a dance of joy-filled giving and receiving. Trinity understood as perichoresis is a dance of creation that extends a continuous invitation to each one of us to participate in God’s life.

And the reason for the dance? Love. Love is why we exist. John’s Gospel tells us God’s act of love in the incarnation is not to condemn sinners but to save their lives [John 12:47].Jesus is about life, not death. The Holy Spirit empowers us every day to fulfill Jesus’ great commandment to Love one another.

How well do we perform the perichoresis? Have we allowed ourselves to be swept up into the circle of God’s love, extending our arms to gather in those who stand outside it? Do we understand the Source of creation in this holy dance and see how each of us fit into God’s plan? As an evangelizing people our daily activities—particularly those that take place in the world— must revolve around the loving care, encouragement, and support of one another so as to live peacefully, and to recognize one another as God’s own.

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Cor 13:13

Today’s readings can be found here.

Author: Susan Francesconi

Catholic blogger, liturgical art consultant, citizen of the world, and student of life striving to generate something good.

4 thoughts on “Three in One?”

    1. yes, mind bending. Who can understand it completely? Still, Trinity is best understood if we try to keep it together, one with three natures: Think of Trinity in terms of this greeting: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” Three different experiences of God.

      Still, altogether incomprehensible.

      Here’s more, in recognition of many Christians (me included but I’m working on it) who seem to “choose” the person of the Trinity they best relate to, the great theologian Karl Rahner, SJ wrote in his treatise called “Trinity”, “Christians, in their practical life, are almost mere “monotheists.” Elizabeth Johnson, in her book, “She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse” wrote, “Over time, the triune symbol has been divorced from the original multifaceted, life-giving experiences that gave it birth in human understanding.”

      There is so much more. how much time do you have?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have all the time in the world 😉 See my most primal experience of Christ is that he is one with the father — God became a man. Now, it helps me to understand at least a dual/single nature like this: imagine you’ve been convicted. Of everything. And you’re on your way to your sentencing hearing. Now, of course your defense attorney accompanies you to your sentencing hearing. But when you get to the hearing, you find out that your attorney is also the sentencing judge. WHEW. That’s the two thirds I’ve worked out.


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