6-11-2017 The Most Holy Trinity
Jun 12, 2017
OT / Trinity Sunday / A / 2017
Msgr. Patrick S. Brennan
The Trinity is both a deep, theological mystery; and, at the same time, a beautiful reflection of the bond we humans feel for each other. This morning I want spell that out a bit—not in huge detail, but I don’t want people to think that the Trinity is a mystery beyond us—unrelated to our lives. To know the Trinity is to know ourselves.
I used to fear Trinity Sunday—what can I say? But over the years I have come to realize that preaching in church is different from teaching in a classroom. What we want here is something that will move us, inspire us, change us, draw us closer to God and to each other. My great predecessor, St. Patrick, used a simple shamrock to explain the Trinity. Simple and clear. I’ll try to make that my model!
So what can we say about the Trinity—if we were speaking to someone who is completely new to Christianity. 1) We can say that God is One, and 2) this one God is made up of three persons. 3) We call these persons Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and 4) they have a relationship with each other. 5) Equal in every way, and 6) we sometimes represent their unity with a triangle—three equal angles.
So that gets us started. But way back in my theology class in the seminary I learned about another image of the Trinity, a bit fanciful, but still firmly grounded in our tradition. The Fathers of the Church spoke of something called perichoresis, a Greek word that literally means "a dance." The relationship of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, is like a dance. Not static, but dynamic. Moving in and out, weaving around. In relationship. In communion.
As I mature a bit in my understanding of the Trinity, I can see that "a dance" is a good way to describe the relationship of Father, Son, and Spirit. For one thing, we don’t dance alone—we dance with others. And we don’t dance with just anyone—we dance with someone we love. And that is what God is: a lover dancing with God’s beloved.
You and I were created in the image of this dancing God. If the deepest being of God is love and relationship, then OUR deepest being is love and relationship.
Practically, this means that we were made 1) to live in communion with one another, 2) to love one another as brothers and sisters, and 3) to radiate our love to a world in need of healing, reconciliation, and communion. We are hard wired for community.
So why isn’t the world a more loving place? A community? Original sin. The Book of Genesis describes Original sin as the rupture that destroyed the harmony and communion of paradise. The Adam and Eve story spells it out—but it is a story that recurs in every age and generation. It’s the story of our ego, our self-will, our pride. And the result is "Paradise lost." 1) Our relationships with each other is ruptured. 2) Our relationship with God is ruptured. 3) Our relationship with the earth is ruptured.
If Christianity has a mission, it is to restore the image of God—the image of the Trinity— within each one of us. To live in relationship. To dance with the Trinity—and each other—in a communion of life and love.
But we can’t do it on our own, so "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that we might have eternal life." The Son came to restore Original Grace, to break Original Sin, to heal the wounds of sin and division that keep us apart.
So what’s so hard about Trinity Sunday? It’s not the Trinity itself. It’s living in the image of God, a communion—one dance at a time.