Everything the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that [the Spirit of truth] will take from what is mine and declare it to you.
The bedrock of the Christian faith is our belief that God is one, that there is none beside him. Yet we equally believe that God is three Persons within the one Godhead. We admit that we have no idea what that means or how that is possible: this is nothing that the human mind can comprehend.
So how do we come to believe something that we can’t possibly comprehend? The short answer is that we believe it because we trust what Jesus told us. He reveals this to us about himself, this unique relationship with God the Father and to the Holy Spirit. Out Gospel passage today for the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity illustrates that.
Jesus tells us, in words comprehensible to humans, what is his relationship to the Father and to the Holy Spirit: I tell you that the Spirit of truth will take what is mine and declare it to you, since everything that the Father has is mine. Elsewhere, Jesus speaks of this relationship: the Father and I are one…I will ask the Father and he will give you another advocate to be with you always. All we can do is to take Jesus at his word, trying to make some sense out of it. The Church proclaims that God exists as three Persons within the one God. We do not deny what Jesus says; but neither can we understand what he means. The Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God; they are one God–take it or leave it.
But there is a way out of this conundrum for us. Our finite minds are not capable of grasping what is infinite, what lies beyond our grasp. But another kind of knowledge has been bestowed upon us when the Creator made us; and that knowledge is also a true knowledge. It is the knowledge of the heart that comes from our shared human experience. It may not make logical sense to our minds but it can speak to our experience. And so we can verify within ourselves what Jesus means when he says, The Father and I are one, or that the Father will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth.
One of our Cistercian fathers of the twelfth century is Abbot Baldwin of Ford who became the Archbishop of Canterbury. Abbot Baldwin taught his monks at Ford Abbey to entrust their faith in God; even more, he urged them to entrust their hearts to their experience of God. To quote the words he spoke to his monks: “My brothers, I believe that your desire is to see God and to go to God, but you are in need of a guide. If you follow the guidance of faith, you will not go astray…But does this mean that it is only in faith that God is seen? Is he not seen in that love which is charity? Indeed, he is seen in charity and even more in charity than in faith. Through charity the image of God is re-formed in us; through charity God is seen and sensed among us, much more completely than he is known by faith alone”.
If am am someone who thirsts to know God more clearly, to see God, as Baldwin expresses it, faith is a true way to come to knowledge of God. But if I want to know God profoundly, to understand God as deeply as possible now in this life, then that knowledge that comes from a life of love is a far richer knowledge than what we have by faith if we lack charity. Such a life of charity allows me to imitate God who is charity. Such a life of charity conforms me to God. and then the love of God will be poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. May this great Feast of the Church move us to desire to see God dwelling within us and us in God, to be filled with the charity which the Holy Spirit longs, with groans too deep for words, to pour into our hearts.