TRINITY SUNDAY: 12 JUNE 2022
We live in a world that has largely chosen to turn its face from God. Many people today claim to be without religion, agnostic, or atheist; perhaps many even in our own families and amongst our closest friends. What seems to be interesting, however, is that, when examined closely, these labels people choose for themselves are often not too deep, or accurately applied. Words like, “atheist”, “agnostic”, or “spiritual” are convenient to express a wide range of, not very thought through, ideas or viewpoints, and rather express a behavioural preference of not being accountable to anything other than ourselves.
Having had many conversations with people about religion and religious beliefs, I think it is probably fair to say that there are not many true atheists out there, despite the number that choose to jump into that box. That is, a true, conscious belief that there is no higher power or force, or Creator of any sort or description. The complexity of the universe, the infinite genius of DNA, the codebook for life, all point to some Thing, call it what you will – Mother Nature, the Universe, or Energy, and so on.
Many people, in fact, I think fall into some sort of Deist position, whether they know what that means or not. This is the idea there is some sort of Creator god, a force, energy, some Thing, that lies behind our world as we experience it, but that is not actually involved in it beyond the act of creation. Our scientific knowledge certainly continues to show us the depth of mystery that lies in creation that it is not rational for us to presume there are not forces beyond our intellect and understanding, that may be above the nature we can easily grasp with our human minds.
What’s more, is that, many more people, perhaps even a majority of those who choose to jump into the box of so-called “non-believers”, have an understanding of the ongoing involvement in creation of this higher power. Call in “energy”, or Mother Nature, or the Universe, this power or force pervades and continues to be necessary in some way in the ongoing existence of creation. Again, whether or not people know the label, this is, essentially, a Theist position – believing in a power greater than ourselves, which still remains involved in our Creation; necessary in some way for it to continue.
And, most actually seek some way to commune with this Force, however they choose to define it for themselves. This is where we start to see people saying things like, “being one with the Universe”, or sending good wishes, trusting in Karma, being one with and needing to respect Mother Nature. There seems to be this instinct in each of us to desire some connection with this Force beyond our understanding. Certainly, that is also borne out in myriad ways cultures have, over history, sought to relate to, be in a relationship with (even if it is a relationship of fear) the Thing greater than which no Thing can be imagined.
How can we have a relationship with such an unimaginably infinite Being? And why would we have this instinct to do so? Nothing in our immediate and concrete experience as the human race on earth suggests the infinite, so why have we, communally, had the instinct to seek it out? What makes us think that a force so great as to create the countless galaxies and whatever lies beyond them would be interested in the ebb and flow of human existence, let alone the personal, daily experiences or Joe Soap in June 2022? Here is where faith and reason come together.
Trinity Sunday is the very day for us to reflect on this. It is on this day that we celebrate the revelation of the inner and mysterious life of our Creator God. God’s not a thing for our easy defining, and equation to solve, and of course to do so would be impossible. God simply is, and He was and will be, a mystery so great, that our rational minds can only ever get so far. And yet this Reality, the Almighty Creator, wants to be known. He has Created us with a desire to know Him as well – a desire which is manifest in that longing for connection that, as human beings, we have allowed to manifest in so many strange, various, and sadly, sometimes, dangerous or destructive ways. It is only natural that when we rely on our limitations to create an image of God, it will be imperfect. The created cannot make a creator. When we try, we approach God is such imperfect ways as: 1) a giant vending machine in the sky, dishing out health, wealth, and blessings; or 2) a giant psychotherapist in the sky, whose job it is to help us feel better about ourselves and our choices; or 3) as something to be feared or appeased, lest he/they punish us.
No, this supreme force, creating energy, nameless divinity, in His infinite wisdom, also knows that He is beyond our understanding, and that only through a Revelation that comes in terms and concepts that we can grasp, is it possible for us to respond to His call to us to a personal and communal relationship with Him, our loving God. His nature and goodness is begun to be shown through His covenant with Israel, the Law and the prophets. He is the Creator, the sustainer, the liberator, the protector, the Law-giver, the King, the Faithful One, the binder and looser. God is not a philosophical concept, but the God of history, whose acts are not only abstract and beyond understanding, but concrete and close.
These acts show us, at the same time, His closeness to us, as well as reveal the infinite realities of His creative and sustaining Love. His Word, so perfect, which is the Second Person of the Trinity and hovers over the waters at the moment of Creation. Between the Father and Son is perfect love, and this Love, He has chosen to show to us and draw us into: In His fullness of revelation; in His son Jesus Christ, in the great fact of history – the Incarnation. We came to know God not as an invisible force, but someone who shows us what love is, what humanity is. He healed, counselled, forgave sins, raised the dead. He taught with authority, always revealing, little by little, that mysterious reality of our relationship with the Creator.
When he called God His Father, and revealed that the Father and He are One, He invited His disciples, and us, to realise that we can share in that intimate Communion, through the Spirit that He would send. The Love between the Father and Son, so perfect, is this Third Person, the Holy Spirit. We are able to be drawn into the mystery of the love between the Father and Son as we are filled with the Holy Spirit. God called us to enter this unknowable mystery that has been revealed: the mystery of God who, in Christ, walked among us, while never ceasing to be God above us; and indeed by the Spirit, filling the Church with His boundless grace and gifts.
Surely the greatest of these gifts are the Sacraments. How do we continue to have a such a concrete, intimate relationship with this Trinity Godhead, the Divine Communion after the Ascension? The incarnation continues to be present to us in these Sacraments. The Body of Christ, united to her head, Jesus, the Son of God, is given the gift of making Christ present, through her continued presence in the world, and most perfectly, in those moments where the Love of God is brought about efficaciously– to wash us of our sins in Baptism, strengthen us for our vocation in Confirmation, sustain and nourish our souls in the Eucharist, reconcile us to Him and to one another in the Confessional, bring new life into the world in Matrimony, lead the people through Ordination, and show the compassion and healing mercy to those who are suffering in the Anointing of the Sick. His closeness to us, in this visible signs of His invisible grace, is tangible and concrete, as we eat, and drink, and reconcile and love one another. When we participate in these sacraments, particularly the Sacrament of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, the Eucharist, we are drawn into the eternal liturgy of the life of God in heaven – as members of Christ’s body, we are offered eternally to the Father n this liturgy of love, enlivened by the Holy Spirit.
We do not have to create a god in our image, but, rather, the Almighty God has come to us so that we may know Him. He created us in love, in the image and likeness of His divine communion, and called us to share in that Communion that we experience in His Body, the Church.