Trinity Sunday. Why is it important – so important, in fact, that we devote one Sunday every year to exploring this confounding Mystery and all its implications? Just as we do for the Christmas Incarnation, the Good Friday Cross and Easter Resurrection. It may be the most taken for granted Holy Day in the Church for it has no secular counterpart or observance. Christmas and Easter are everywhere in stores and bank holidays, Good Friday, not as much, but there’s still a general cultural acknowledgment. But the Trinitarian Understanding of God, well, it’s only for those of us who call ourselves CHURCH.
Just as all life is a burst of energy, creativity, diversity, life, death and rebirth –a confirmation of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus in all things, the Trinity, too, makes its imprint on all creation. How? Because all life is Relationship. Nothing exists except in relationship to something else. No human being originates all by himself or herself. We say humanity is made in the image of God, and as we are relational beings, so too must the heart of God be relational. The Great Mystery is that God is ONE, Indivisible, Undividable yet still Relational: Father, Son and Spirit. Not merely different functions of God, although we often speak of God in those ways, but ONENESS. There’s relationship in ONENESS, in UNITY, in HARMONY. In, dare we say it—in COMMUNION!
But I may be getting ahead of myself. Understanding of the Trinity began with the words of Jesus –his unity with God whom he identified as FATHER, and his promise to send forth God’s SPIRIT -the advocate who bestows Wisdom, Courage, Stamina, Inspiration on all humanity, with, we believe, a unique dose of faith and comprehension bestowed on Jesus’ followers. In fact, Jesus cultivated us to perpetuate preachers and teachers to help us understand and express this reality imbedded deep in Creation and human experience. So, powerful, important and penetratingly deep was this revelation that it took the Church many generations and over three hundred years’ time to begin to articulate TRINITY in any formal way. We must not be surprised at that. One of the many consistencies in the Biblical Revelation is how slow humanity is to understand God and God’s purposes. From the back and forth, hide and seek relationship the Israelites had with God and their prophets, themselves and others to the obtuseness of the disciples and the trials of Peter and Paul in the Acts and in the Epistles—humanity groans in its struggle to experience and articulate TRUTH. Biblical and Church History (and human history) make very clear: No pain, No gain. Therefore, it should be no surprise that even after the Great Councils of Nicaea, Chalcedon and Ephesus we continue to debate within ourselves and with other religions the Reality of Unity and Relationship that is our God. (You’ll find it a delightful surprise to learn how other religions, while rejecting the Trinity, articulate their own understanding of God desiring relationship with humanity and all creation.)
What is NOT relationship in living things? The ATOM is comprised of Protons, Neutrons and Electrons. The ATOM is ONE ENTITY but it’s the relationship between the three components that is the source of its energy, source of LIFE. Plants need Sun and Water and Earth to thrive. John’s Gospel states: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” So, of course, CREATION would be in God’s IMAGE-a relational IMAGE. Tending to the quality of relationships—all relationships-must be the heart of our lives because it is the very Heart of God who showers love on the grateful and the ungrateful, the just and the wicked alike. God’s patience with us may be as difficult to comprehend as the Trinity itself, and, yet, it’s in evidence everywhere.
This mystery of TRINTITY is a gift to us. But not just a gift for us. It is essential that we find creative ways to keep it current in our consciousness and conversations, and attend to passing it on to future generations for the Kingdom to come. We must look to ways can we convey these truths to our children—the future Church. And we must be persistent, and prayerfully insist the Spirit inspire us. Because in some ways this young generation is less likely to explore this Mystery, less likely to take the time to contemplate GOD as we do today. There’s less in our culture to help them familiarize themselves with the potency of Jesus, His Life, Death and Resurrection. But there is now in Science, as our insight into the components of the ATOM reveal and in the ways more and more Science acknowledges MYSTERY and the relationship of all things. Still, we must cultivate conversations of these parallels at home. Dropping the children off to Religious Education or even Catholic School is not enough.
We all know that Myths, Stories, even Fairy Tales posit truths about life that can be helpful in explaining and understanding eternal truths. Analogies with familiar stories are important teaching tools. My favorite for kids is THE WIZARD OF OZ – one of the few movies that we can speak about with confidence that everyone has seen or read the book. The theme there is that to be one’s true self – to be HOME – is to encounter and appreciate the OTHER, and the only way to do that is to risk relationship. Dorothy represents all of humanity who needs the gifts of a Trinity – Mind/Brain, Love/Heart, Courage/Respect and Patience with our Animal Natures—to know herself, to grow, to fully love: the essential energy of all human persons. (And, if you go see the current WONDER WOMAN, you’ll that love is an essential theme of that story, too.) These are important conversations to have with our kids, don’t you think?
From the Fairy Tale Analogy, may we return to our FAITH perspective in and through the realities of this Eucharist we all share. What a diverse group we are—essentially the SAME soulful bodies, yet unique with different stories and experiences to share – yet ONE in Unity, In Communion in Faith, Hope and Love that is an essential TRINITY that binds us to God and One Another. What an insight! What an inspiration. What a grand scheme, a marvelous mystery to experience time and time again until our very pores and sinews, our bodies and souls understand a little more who we are and who Jesus calls us to be: A diverse people, a diverse world as ONE loving the Lord Our God with our whole heart, all our mind, all our strength and our neighbor as ourselves.