Trinity Sunday-May 22, 2016

May 22, 2016

Deacon Blaine Barclay

Jesus is the Wisdom of God, with God from the beginning, before time, from all eternity. Incarnate in time for us. As our first reading says, “I was beside Him, like a master worker“. God and the wisdom of God are co-eternal and co-present with each other, they are in a relationship of reciprocity, of mutual delight and rejoicing. Listen again to what proverbs says about this relationship. “I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always.” Other translations use words like, playing, content, smiling, having fun, pure delight, laughing, rejoicing in his presence, to characterize the quality of this relationship. The Christian scriptures and Tradition have always read this ancient Jewish text as prefiguring the Theology of the Trinity. We have here then, the eternal life of the one God being portrayed in the language of relationship, mutuality, reciprocal delight, and of joy of the presence of the other person. There is a playfulness about the language of this text. Apparently, God knows all about having fun, about having a good time, even before there was time, of enjoying the company of the other Persons.

It is no wonder that the Early Church Fathers described the relationship between the persons of the Trinity as “Perichoresis”, a Greek word which means “to dance around with”, a circle dance. It captures well the quality of reciprocity and mutual delight in each other’s company that is internal to the nature of God. What is God? In short, God is not a ‘what’, but a ‘who’, not a solitary lonely who, but the who of communio, of giving the gift of the self to the other, and receiving the gift of the Other. The One God is Three Personed. As the hymn says, “God in Three Persons, Blessed Trinity”, ‘the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit’. To be sure, Christians are Monotheists, we believe in One God. We do not believe in Three Gods, nor are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit three modes, aspects or faces of the one God, as if there was a God behind God, so to speak. God is at the same time both one and three. There is real otherness and difference in the one nature of God. This is why we can proclaim that God is love.

This Trinitarian profession is at the heart of our Catholic Faith. Catholic Faith stands or falls with the Doctrine of the Trinity. Are we not baptised, plunged into the mystery of this three-fold name? Do we not sign ourselves with sign of the cross, which is a Trinitarian profession of faith? “In the Name of Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit”. The Creed that we profess, whether the Apostles Creed or the Nicene Creed, are Trinitarian in their structure. “Do you believe in God the Father, do you believe in God the Son, do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?” At the high point of our Eucharistic feast, in what is called the ‘epiclesis’, just before the consecration, the priest asks the Father to send the Holy Spirit to transform the gifts of bread and  wine into the body and blood of the Son. In short, the whole of the Christian life is lived as a participation in the life of the Trinity. This participation calls us ever deeper into a life of self-donation. In the Trinity, self-donation holds nothing back. Jesus says, “All that the Father has is mine”. In the Trinity, the reciprocal openness to the gift of the other persons is also total. Jesus says, the Spirit “will speak whatever He hears”. And we are created in this image.

According to St. John Paul II even our embodied human nature reflects this image of the Trinity, this threefold pattern. The very biological structure of the human body says that we are incomplete without the other, without relationship, without intimacy, without love, and this relationship by its very nature is meant to be fruitful and generative in the birth of the child, the other. This is St. John Paul’s famous Theology of the Body. The Trinitarian pattern of One, Two, Three, is inscribed, written in our very flesh. Like God, we too are made for communion, otherness, fruitful love, mutual delight and rejoicing.

Of course our lives often fall short of this. Fragmented, and wounded, we stumble towards ecstasy. But the life of our Three Personed God is ex-static as well, eternally flowing out towards the other in radical reciprocity, and overflowing towards us in Creation, Incarnation and the Spirit’s animating power, rejoicing and delighting also in the company of human beings, and inviting us into their dance. The dance of this Trinitarian love that, as St. Paul says, “has been poured into our hearts”.