What is it, I wonder, that you have missed most during this Lockdown period? One parishioner said recently to me that he missed going to the football and having a pie and a pint with friends. That exemplifies what many of us are missing. We are finding the lack of social gatherings very hard: not being able to gather together with family and friends, in whatever ways. I know that many of you are not just missing attending Mass, but also meeting up with fellow parishioners after Mass. We are social beings and need that interaction with others. Social interactions play such an important part in our lives.
Sharing a meal with people is a particularly intimate way of spending and sharing time with people. There is quite a well-known 15th century Russian icon of the Trinity painted by a monk called Rublev. It depicts the three Divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, sitting at a table on which there is a dish of food. I’ll put a copy of it on the website after Mass when I publish this homily. The interesting thing about the icon is that at the front of the table, on our side of the table as we look at the icon, there is a vacant space. This vacant space is meant to convey openness, hospitality, and welcome towards the stranger and outsider. That vacant space is meant to be an invitation for each of us, and for all of humanity. It signifies God’s invitation to us to share in the life of the Trinity, a life of love. God invites us to come in and sit at his table. He wants to share his life with us.
We often speak of the Trinity, and other aspects of our faith, as a mystery. God is a mystery, but this does not mean that we cannot know anything about him. A mystery is something which is so full of meaning that no matter how hard we try, we can never get fully to the bottom of it. There is always something more to explore and understand. We experience mysteries every day: the mystery which is each other; the mystery which is me; the mystery which is life. And as we know something of each other and ourselves and grow in that understanding with time and experience, so also with God.
In the Trinity, God shares the mystery which is His very self with us. We usually define the Trinity as being: "One God in three persons, Father Son and Holy Spirit." And such a definition is a helpful pointer. However, the true mystery of the Trinity is found not in such definitions but in our experience of God. As our understanding and knowledge of another person is through our experience of them, so it is with God. We can experience the mystery which is the Trinity because God has opened his life up for us to share in, a life which is at its very essence a perfect community. With the Trinity we are dealing with a great mystery because we are dealing with the very essence of God, and yet we can still grasp it is such a way as to be able to pray it and live it.
God has opened up His life to us, He invites us in. To get to know Him, we have to open up our lives to Him.