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Imagine a non-Christian friend asking you to explain the Trinity: “How does 3=1? Do you believe in three Gods? Or is it just like three different names for the same one God?” How would you respond? And does it really matter?
Does it really make a difference whether we believe in just a solitary divine being or a God who exists as Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Absolutely! In fact, understanding the Trinity is the key to understanding what love is, where our happiness is found and the purpose of our lives. For we are made in the image and likeness not of some vague higher power, but of the God who is love (1 Jn 4:8)—the God whose very inner life is all about total self-giving love. As St. John Paul II taught, we are stamped with a “Trinitarian character,’ meaning we are meant to live like the Trinity in self-giving love. Only when we live self-giving love for others and for God will we find our happiness.
For more on how to explain the Trinity and the importance of this central mystery for our lives, see chapter one from Edward Sri’s book, “Love Unveiled: The Symbolon Book” (Ignatius Press).