The very Palpable Trinity
Don’t you think that we often look at the Trinity as an abstract distant “object”? Strangely, in the early Church, the Trinity was a reality Christians were immersed IN all the time. The Trinity was very palpable, lived, tasted: an experience. How did it happen?
“Immersed”, according to the dictionary, is “to be covered completely in a liquid”.
The liquid can cover you, but it may sometimes penetrate in you as well, no? (i.e.: oil)
It can penetrate you, but it may transform you into it, no? (i.e.: chemicals)
Baptism was done (and is still done in various Churches) by a triple immersion: one had to be immersed a first time: “in the name of the Father”, a second time “in the Son”, and a third time “in the Holy Spirit”, one God.
Note: in Greek, “baptised” means being immersed.
Baptism is not about being immersed and then coming out. It is meant to be a constant state of immersion. One remains baptised (immersed) all his life.
Saint Paul greets his fellow Christians in Corinth this way: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.” (2 Co 13:13) He mentions Jesus first: because Jesus is the one sent by the Father to reveal to us the Trinity , to open the Trinity to us; He is the entrance Gate to the Trinity. Then Matthew mentions the Father. Then, the Holy Spirit. This is a very genuine primitive order. Indeed kept by Matthew in his stunning presentation of the triple Immersion (Mt 5 through to 7).
Note: The teaching on the Son (Mt 5), the teaching on the Father (Mt 6), and the teaching on the Holy Spirit (Mt 7) are one teaching and not three.
To baptise somebody is to introduce him/her IN the life of the Trinity, to immerse him/her and to hand over to him/her the responsibility of remaining immersed. This depends on us. The teaching on how to remain immersed in each Person of the Trinity is presented by Matthew in his Gospel in the Sermon on the Mount:
– The Son: Mt 5 (right after the beatitudes)
– The Father: Mt 6
– The Holy Spirit: Mt 7
At the end of saint Matthew’s Gospel (see the quote below), what Jesus asks his Apostles to do is: to help new Christians remain immersed in each one of the Persons of the Trinity. In order to do so there is a teaching that is all one and triune: Mt 5 through 7.
It is our responsibility to put into practice the teaching of each immersion, in order to REMAIN immersed. (“Dwell in me” Says Jesus in John 15. We can say as well: “Dwell in the Trinity”, Dwell in the Son (by putting into practice Mt 5) Dwell in the Father (by putting into practice Mt 6) Dwell in the Holy Spirit by putting into practice Mt 7))
The end of Matthew’s Gospel and his three chapters 5 to 7 are one of the very first forms of Spiritual Theology…: teaching people how to dwell in the Trinity, how to dwell in each of the Persons of the Trinity. This is Baptism. Here is the text (end of Mt):
“Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptising (immersing) them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (end of Mt, and is as well the summary of Mt 5-7)
Note: “baptising” and “teaching to observe” are in fact one thing, they mirror each other.
One last thing
A very early tradition, found in St Irenaeus (130-202), says that the Hands of the Father are the Son and the Holy Spirit. (St Irenaeus is the disciple of the disciple of St John the Evangelist.) Now, imagine the Father holding you, as a little baby with His Hands (the Son, and the Holy Spirit), immersing you, and always holding you.
This is one of the early spiritual ways of being for Christians. This is the earliest form of catechesis. Very practical. Understanding that God has two Hands – the Son, and the Holy Spirit – and that He holds us with them. We should never escape from His Hands. Each hand has 5 fingers. In order to remain in the Hands of the Father, we need to put into practise the 5 + 5 commandments we find in the Sermon of the Mountain:
You find the Son’s 5 commandments in the second part of Mt 5, and the 5 of the Holy Spirit in the five sections of Mt 7. We need to learn to count on the fingers of each hand: 1, 2, 3,…5, then again: 1, 2, 3…5. This way, the Father can hold us, we are facing Him, and we can live the 7 sections of Mt 6, dedicated to the Father and having in it the “Our Father”. (Please check Mt 5-7 text, with these divisions here) Counting, remembering, putting into practise, will allow us to remain in the Hands of the Father, all the time, Facing him.
So, when we say the Our Father, we say it in this position shown above. The Father is holding us – his little children – with His First Hand: the Son, and with His Second Hand: the Holy Spirit. We are Facing Him.
Hope that helps not only your neurones but your “taste buds” as well. Let us taste the Trinity: get your swimming trunks (Mt 5-7) and jump in the Triune Well.
Note: “Dogmata” for the Greek Philosophers was like advice, a great piece of wisdom to be put into practice, a short sentence, to reflect and ponder on, put into practice until it becomes part of us. The 3 dogmata (the Son, the Father and the Holy Spirit) are indeed to be put into practice, by living Mt 5, 6 and 7.