They are everywhere. They are fidget spinners, the popular toy that consists of a centered ball-bearing that allows the metal or plastic piece to spin on its axis with little effort and pretty much non-stop. You could say they are the toy of 2017 but as with anything, there are up sides and down sides to them.
Marketed as a way to keep fidgeters focused and relieve stress, the spinners have also demonstrated to do just the opposite and have even proved dangerous. A co-worker’s son swallowed one of the ball bearings and there has been no scientific evidence of yet that they are beneficial for treating the “three As:” anxiety, ADHD, or autism. In the end, they are really what they were first marketed as: toys.
Leave it to Pope Francis to take them a step further.
During a staff meeting last week, our director gifted each of with a fidget spinner. I’d heard of them but had never really seen one. I, like everyone else at the meeting, were a little curious as to why she would give a fidget spinner to a roomful of grown-ups. She, like Pope Francis, had a reason.
We learned that during a recent homily the Holy Father surprised the congregation by taking a fidget spinner out of his pocket. He then used it in a most unusual and inspiring way to explain the Holy Trinity.
“Just as St. Patrick used the three-leaf clover to teach his followers about the Trinity, I am using my aluminum Tri-Fidget Spinner to reveal the mysteries of our God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” Pope Francis said. “As the spinner spins faster, the three arms seem to become a single disc yet they maintain their individuality.
Genius. Yes, the Trinity consists of one God that is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and the three persons share one nature and receive the same worship, but they are also three distinct beings. Returning to the spinner comparison, Pope Francis so eloquently pointed out that just as an improperly balanced spinner won’t work very well, our faith will falter and our lives will suffer if our view of God is improperly balanced.
“Could we execute a behind-the-back move if our fidget spinner was unbalanced?” he asked mass attendees. “No. It is the same if we don’t balance God equally as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Truth be told, any way you look at it the Trinity is a tough one, even for a cradle Catholic like myself who grew up calling the Holy Spirit the Holy Ghost! God is indeed one, but he is also three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. How can this be? Well, as a friend one time posted, “If God were small enough to be understood, He would not be big enough to be worshiped.”
Still, in our logical world how can we grasp the Trinity? One way is to consider water, which comes in three forms: solid, liquid, and gas. But, water can only be either ice, flowing water, or steam. God on the other hand can be all three at the same time. Some consider God the Father to be the solid piece of ice, God the Son to be Jesus flowing through our hearts and minds, and God the Holy Spirit to be the gas.
Another way to symbolize the Trinity is with fire. God is the fire itself, Jesus provides the warmth and the light, and the Holy Spirit is often depicted as a flame but can also be the smoke the permeates through our lives.
Lastly, we can also turn to Genesis to understand the Triune God. In the first three verses of the bible, the Trinity was present. Think about it:
“In the beginning when God (the Father) created the heavens and earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep while a wind from God (the Holy Spirit) swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light (Jesus).”
In the end, perhaps the Trinity is not for us to completely understand but to simply believe. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “Jesus didn’t say ‘take and understand,’ He said “take and eat.”
As we take and eat today and every day, let’s all try to keep things properly balanced. If you need a fidget spinner to remind you to do so, spin away.