The Catholic Church teaches us that God is one and in relation to himself in three ways: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, consubstantial all, one in nature, but distinct in their relationship to each other. He is like the sun, issuing from itself light and heat. Christ is the light, and the Holy Spirit is the heat. Or again, he is like a cell that divides itself into two additional cells, which are identical in substance to the originating cell, but distinct in time and space. The first cell is God; the second is Christ Jesus, and the third is the Holy Spirit. The third cell arises out of the relationship of consanguinity and affection that exists between the first two cells, God the Father and God the Son, interacting with each other in perfect union, constantly communicating with each other and trading energy back and forth between them until another substance issues like a spark from the heat of their love. This third cell, the Holy Spirit, Christ sent down from heaven after his ascension there. This, in short, is the triune nature of God, which the Catholic Church teaches.
The strongest structure in nature is the triangle, and the triune nature of God forms the image of a triangle, for three things in relation to each other form three angles. Truth within is truth reflected, and the truth reflected is the truth within. So let us explore the image of triangles to explore the truth of the triune God.
The angles of a triangle equal 180 degrees, which is one half of 360 degrees. And 360 degrees make the circumference of a circle. The circle symbolizes the infinite and the eternal, for there is no beginning and no end in either a circle or infinity. This is why since ancient times the wedding ring has been a symbol of eternal love between two people.
But the triune God merely makes up half of the image of a circle, at 180 degrees. Why might the fullness of the triune God not already add up to 360 degrees, which might reflect his eternal and infinite perfection?
The Catholic Church teaches us that God made man in his image out of love and for his company. So, when man reconciles himself to God, God’s union with his creation is complete, for then he becomes reconciled with the highest and freest part of it. Since man was made in the image and likeness of God, God’s joy in reconciling himself to his sons and daughters is like that of a human father or mother who is reconciled with his or her child: the joy is complete and infinitely abounds. Likewise, the bleeding hurt a father feels when his son or daughter forgets about him or estranges himself or herself from him must be the same pain that God himself feels when we deny the existence of a relationship between he and us, when we forget him or reject him, and when we refuse to accept what he wants for us, which is best for us too.
God must have willed that by man’s reconciliation to him, God would become happier, by mirroring himself in his created world while longing for it to come back to him, and becoming the happier when we by our own free will turn back to him and as babes fall into his loving arms. By thus reconciling ourselves to God our father in Heaven, the triune God gains three new angles, for he become more perfectly reflected in us, his creation, and the total sum of the angles increases to 360 degrees.
This is a sacrifice God must have made, that by his own creation, by giving us life, he risked having a less perfect union to it, and suffering the pain of an estranged father, like thorns in his brow, like nails in his extremities, and a spear through his side, for the sake of his great hope and promise, and our freedom too, that we may choose to be reconciled to him. From the dawn of creation, God has been crucified time and again, for having given us free will to turn towards him in loving humility or walk away from him in pride. The crucifixion of Jesus was the epitome of this, as a person that is a perfect example of God’s self-sacrifice, and as a summary of all human history at its root. For God gives up his certain happiness and the guarantee of his reconciliation to the world, by giving us the freedom to choose him or ourselves, truth or pride, reconciliation with the Father or the division of the world, first from him, and then within ourselves and from our neighbours. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God’s joy hinges on our freedom, and his suffering does too. Our faithfulness to God, who is truth, shall set us free from slavery to our own wants and desires. What kind of God hangs his happiness on his children’s freedom? And what kind of father returns to his children with love and forgiveness, even when in our freedom we forget him, disavow him, and crucify him? A loving God and Father.