The Feast of the Holy Trinity
What does one say about the Holy Trinity that would make any sense or difference in another’s life? What does one say about pure mystery? My favorite way of thinking of the Trinity is given by St Augustine. He describes God as Lover, beloved and love itself. Each member of the Trinity is giving unreservedly to the other. St Bonaventure says that the three persons of the Trinity are engaged in an “eternal dance of love”. I have spent much time trying to understand and explain the theology around the Trinity, but nothing will ever do because we cannot fathom God. At least I cannot.
St Augustine’s description makes the most sense to me because it is about a relationship of love. Pope John Paul II, in his book Theology of the Body suggests that the relationship of the Holy Trinity can be ours as well, in that we are created in the image and likeness of God. He says that the first humans were created in such a way that they reflected the God of their creation. When they walked and talked with God in the garden, they weren’t using themselves as a reference point but were completely self-giving. That is why they didn’t know they were naked. They looked at God and at one another and saw only the other. John Paul says that the fall brought about a distortion in humanity’s way of seeing itself situated in creation. We see from our personal perspective, and know our nakedness. We struggle to feel connected to God, others and creation in an unencumbered way.
When Jesus commands his disciples to go out to all nations and baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and tells them to teach all that he has taught them, he wants them to share with rest of humanity God’s love. The word for God found in the Hebrew Scriptures is not allowed to be uttered because God’s name is unutterable. Some suggest that the name of God is actually the action of breath itself.
Over the centuries since the time of Jesus, there have been many abuses by people in the name of Christ, or the name of the Church or the name of Christianity. I won’t deny this truth. It still happens today. On the other hand, there are many things that are greatly improved in human relations since the time of Jesus because of his teaching. Living the gospel message holds a standard in determining justice. Compassionate care for the sick and those who are differently ‘abled.’ Our history is full of stories about saints and martyrs who have worked, suffered and died to help others in the name of God. Countless people have given openly of themselves in ways we can never know for the love of God and the common good.
In the Gospel of Matthew (the gospel for this Sunday) we hear that the disciples worshiped Jesus when they saw him after his resurrection, but they doubted. I know for sure in the midst of my commitment to daily worship of God in our Benedictine rhythm of prayer, I have moments of doubt. I admit, sometimes I doubt the existence of God. More often, I doubt whether my life makes any difference for others. If I am living Jesus’ command to teach what he taught in the gospels. I wonder if a commitment to live the “self-giving life” of the Holy Trinity is reflected in our community and our connection with the world. Then I remember that my life is not about me. My commitment is to keep loving others. Jesus sent his disciples and sends us to do as he did, to teach all nations in that name that is breath itself.
Ana Cloughly, OSB