Message This! thoughts on Trinity Sunday, 2017
by Rev. Jim Ryan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Believe it or not, the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity – this celebration of One in Three, Three in One – has a coherent background to it. A background, when seen through philosopher’s eyes, that resonates with ancient questions. And the really big question has to do with the One and the Many. Is God Oneness in Being? Or, is God the divine presence in every and all experiences and events of our lives and of all creation?
Just as ancient as are the questions, so also for Christian teachers (some more ancient than others) has been the answer: The answer? God is not one or the other, God is both! And the rest is messaging.
What does that mean? It means that our language, not surprisingly, mis-serves us. But it’s not language that is at fault. It’s just that language is never more than what our thinking can contain. Trying to conceive of the divine is a bit of an oxymoron. The Catch-22 here is the circle of understanding which holds that a captured and usable concept is always already a finite reality. So, is God indeed the One who is beyond all understanding?
Now, there’s the rub because the compromise says that God is both. So, somehow the divine is present in so many ways in us and in all creation while at the same time beyond all understanding.
And, if (big IF) the compromise of the BOTH one and the many holds, then the question becomes, “What is the message?” St. Thomas Aquinas holds out for the Beatific Vision. All my life is prequel to that moment, after my individual death, when I behold the big BV and I finally experience the God who is the ONE.
Well, maybe. As the first Reading for this Liturgy reminds us it was Moses who had the BV of God in the burning bush. Later in Exodus, Moses – unshod and covered by his cloak – was given the vision of the backside of God who passed by. These visions are the message that authoritarian types like to impress upon us as they also embed the message that they are the knowledgeable ones who must be trusted and followed.
BUT, what of those experiences you and I have that change our lives? What about those events that knock us off our proverbial horse? What are we to make of the conviction that God is what/who we experience in such events? Not as the Prime Mover, but precisely from within the experience itself, God lives. How else are we to live, having had such an awakening, except to realize we – you and I – are the divine ones? To transform our lives we, the divine people, must do the transforming.
It turns out that the BV is, perhaps, not a vision after all, but the event of being surrounded and enfolded by love, by care, by compassion, by inclusion. As the prayer says “on earth as it is in heaven.”
WELL, if we are divine presence, and we make God real then how do we message that? How do I take responsibility in an age wherein institutions have crumbled, superstructures have fallen away, relationships are dust?
It doesn’t take much to have this vision of destroyed myths and broken promises. Look around and see dreams that are broken on the basis of never having enough. See plans for children that become lost blueprints in the always losing time ways of just getting by. Take, for example, the financial crisis of 2008. The greed of the financial institutions fed a mindless accumulation of wealth that sucks the life from folks who just want to have the means to live rightly, lovingly, humbly with God. The lie of “free market capitalism” came crashing down. Did self-correction stop the hemorrhaging or rebuild the house of cards that was the financial system – this highly-touted shining example of the correctness of capitalism? No, it was the money and the unrealized hopes of the people – the future earnings of you and me – that went to allay the addictions of the financial class all over the world.
And let’s not get started with the breakdown of the Catholic Church whose managerial remedy seems to be to limp along until a new generation of bishops are appointed, and maybe, just maybe, there will be a pendulum swing toward the way of Jesus.
YES, the message is ALL in an environment that relies on the top-down ways of doing things. Particularly, a message that foists on the unknowing hearers of the message the ONENESS of power, of authority, of life and death decisions that must be made in obedience to the ONENESS.
YET, the message of the MANY says you and I are the builders together. We are the caretakers together. We are the lifeblood of all that matters most. We are the divine ones for each other.
Trinity Prayer (JR)
May we see goodness in each other.
May we see truth in each other.
May we see beauty in each other.
May we see unity in each other.
May we see God in each other.
The Being of our life compels us to
Creative love, Redemptive love, Abiding love-
A Trinity of enfolding energy that never quits. Amen.