June 12, 2022
Sister Ana Cloughly, OSB shares a reflection on the scripture readings: Proverbs 8:22-31; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15
Thus says the wisdom of God:
“The LORD possessed me, the beginning of his ways,
the forerunner of his prodigies of long ago;
from of old I was poured forth,
at the first, before the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no fountains or springs of water;
before the mountains were settled into place,
before the hills, I was brought forth;
while as yet the earth and fields were not made,
nor the first clods of the world.
“When the Lord established the heavens I was there,
when he marked out the vault over the face of the deep;
when he made firm the skies above,
when he fixed fast the foundations of the earth;
when he set for the sea its limit,
so that the waters should not transgress his command;
then was I beside him as his craftsman,
and I was his delight day by day,
playing before him all the while,
playing on the surface of his earth;
and I found delight in the human race.”
This first reading for today is one of my favorite images of God. For me, images of exploring the earth and the universe, as new things continually emerge, is fascinating. Right here is where the mystery of the Triune God gets real.
St Augustine’s explanation of the Trinity is by far my favorite: The first person of the Trinity is the Lover, pouring out limitless love. The second person is the Beloved who responds in love to the Lover without reserve. The Spirit is the Love that flows boundlessly from each to the other in an endless reciprocity. We are made in the image of God. In the image of the Triune love that creates, animates, and sustains the universe.
Poetic as this might sound, what does it mean in our human experience?
I found a helpful answer in the book Theology of the Body by Pope John Paul II. John Paul tries to really bring out the holiness of our humanness. He begins by explaining his thoughts about the relationship between Adam and Eve before “the fall.” The image he offers is of two persons so in love that they forget themselves. Their focus is so completely on the other, there is no self-reference. They didn’t even know they were naked.
Richard Rohr takes the selfless, non-self-referencing image of God just a bit further. For the Trinity, Rohr uses the image of a water wheel with three buckets, each pouring itself completely into the other with full confidence that at the point it is needed, the bucket will be filled and even overflow.
So, what do these abstract images mean in my life, perhaps in yours as well?
Richard Rohr says human relationship is primarily dualistic. You and me. Us and them. But the inner life of God is three. Balanced. A community. In the water wheel analogy, two buckets will not allow for a complete pouring one into the other. Some is spilled. Some is lost.
A three-bucket waterwheel allows a complete pouring from one to the other. None is lost, and yet whatever is poured out is never the same. A waterwheel only works when the water is flowing. It may still be water/love being poured out, but it is never the same water.
We are made in the image of God. The Triune God who is the essence of self-giving without reserve. And God’s self-giving is dynamic, creative and life giving. A community of shared love.
As Christians, we are created in the image of God incarnate, which means we can, if we choose, enter more fully into that communion of love. We are the body of Christ. As the universe emerged, as we see in the first reading from Proverbs, the body of Christ continues emerging, growing and creating. Creation, past and present is not static. It is dynamic, growing, and alive.
In a world that seems to have lost all sense of our common oneness, we know from the life of the Christ, the Beloved, that there is hope. Death and destruction are not the end. In the end…Love wins.