On June 7th we celebrated the feast of the Most Holy Trinity
Saint Augustine is one of the most brilliant thinkers in the history of the Catholic Church. One of his great books is on the subject of the Holy Trinity which is the feast we celebrate today. While he was in the process of writing it, he took a walk on the beach to clear his head. There he saw a boy digging a hole in the sand and then running back and forth from the sea with a bucket of water, pouring it into the hole. Saint Augustine asked the boy what he was doing, and he replied, “I’m trying to fit the whole ocean into this hole.” Saint Augustine laughed at him, saying, “Why that’s impossible! You can’t fit all that water into that small hole.” Then the boy replied, “Just so, it is impossible for you to try to understand the mystery of the Holy Trinity with that small mind of yours!”
Now, this is a story that has been told for the past fifteen hundred years. Chances are you have heard it before. But let’s take a few minutes to ponder what the boy was saying to Saint Augustine. He wasn’t telling him to stop trying to think about God and to stop trying to understand Him. He wasn’t telling him to give up on the great book on the Holy Trinity that he was in the middle of writing. Instead, he was telling him to stand in awe before the great mystery that is God in all His glory. He was encouraging him to be humble. Even as great a mind as Saint Augustine’s could only get a small glimpse at the reality that is God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
On this feast of the Most Holy Trinity, the Church invites us today to ponder this great mystery.
As the boy on the beach told Saint Augustine, our human intellects can only have a limited understanding of the Holy Trinity. All we can do is ponder it, stand in awe of it, and worship the God who loves each of us with a unique and personal love.
It is true that that boy on the beach could not fit the whole ocean in that little hole he dug. It is true that Saint Augustine, no matter how great his intellect was, could not understand the mystery of the Trinity with his small brain. But there is another mystery for us to ponder. The God who stands outside of time, whom all the world cannot contain, wants to live within us. For that reason, He makes Himself present to us through the mystery of the Blessed Sacrament. This great God makes Himself small so that we can receive Him.
Let us approach this great mystery, then, with reverence and awe, and in the hope that one day we will see this God who is now veiled in mystery, face to face in Heaven.