Summary: Understanding the essence of the mystery of the Trinity even though we cannot understand the mystery.
“Who’s on First?” Trinity Sunday
By Al Schifano – May 2002
How many times have you had something happen to you, when you simply laughed and said: “God really has a sense of humor.” I think we have all had that experience many times. I am convinced that God must have a wonderful sense of humor. After all, God is the source of all that is good: love, beauty, joy and laughter.
I think God must particularly enjoy Trinity Sunday as he watches preachers around the world trying to explain the great mystery which we celebrate today, the mystery of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – three persons -- one God – each person fully God.
I remember in the seminary there was a course called “The Mystery of God”. Our theology professor on the first day of the semester explained to us that one of the mysteries we will study is the mystery of the Trinity. He went on to say that as future preachers he had some good news and some bad news for us. He said, “First the Bad News. You are going to have to preach about the mystery of the Trinity – three persons in one God – each fully God. The good news is that you only have to do it once a year on Trinity Sunday.”
Well, I’m so persuaded that God has a great sense of humor that I bet God would appreciate hearing Bud Abbott explain the Trinity to Lou Costello if they were still alive. I think it would go something like this: (Lou Costello in italic print or [LC] and Bud Abbott in standard print or [BA]).
LC: Bud, you’re a very smart man and you know many things. I bet you know a lot about religion.
BA: Well, yes Lou, I do. What would you like to know about religion?
LC: Last weekend I went to the park and there was a church group having a picnic and they had a big sign the said “Holy Trinity Church”. Well, Bud, I’ve driven around town and I have seen churches named St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Joseph, St. Thomas, but I never heard of this St. Trinity. Who is this St. Trinity?
BA: Trinity is not a saint, Lou. Trinity is one of the ways that all Christians have come to understand God as revealed by Jesus Christ when he came to earth to live among us. The Trinity is God, One God – Three Persons, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
LC: That sure sounds like three gods to me.
BA: No, Lou, one God, three persons – It’s a mystery Lou.
LC: Well, Bud, come to think of it, this is a very big world and universe and there are lots of people for God to watch. So probably the Father works the day shift, the Son the night shift and the Holy Spirit the graveyard shift.
BA: No, Lou. No shifts. God’s working all of the time.
LC: O.K. so if God’s working all the time, its still a very big world, so maybe God divides it up in thirds – a third for the Father, a third for the Son and a third for the Holy Spirit.
BA: No, Lou, no thirds, no divisions, God is undivided.
(Lou scratches his head for a minute and then says to Bud: )
LC: Well, Bud, let me ask it to you this way. I think God must be a baseball fan – after all the first words of the bible say “In the Big Inning”.
BA: No, Lou, it’s “In the beginning” not “In the big inning”.
LC: Any way, Bud, you know how I like baseball. So let’s say that God’s team was playing a baseball game and God’s team was up to bat. The Father hits a single – Who’s on first?
LC: The Father
BA: That’s right, Lou.
LC: Then the Son comes up and hits a single. The Father goes to second base and the Son goes to first base. Who’s on first?
LC: I thought God was on second base.
BA: That’s right.
LC: O.K. – then the Holy Spirit comes up and lays down a perfect bunt. The Father goes to third base, the Son goes to second base and the Holy Spirit beats out the throw – Safe at first. Who’s on first?
LC: I thought God was on second and third.
BA: That’s right Lou. God’s on second and third. God is on first too. God is on all the bases.
LC: I don’t get it, Bud.
Well, Bud can’t explain it and Lou can’t get it. And I can’t explain the mystery of the Trinity and we can’t get it. It is beyond our human comprehension to grasp the concept of the Trinity – three persons in one God, each fully God.