The Most Holy Trinity (A); June 11, 2017
Ex 34:4b-6,8-9 (Ps) Dn 3 2 Cor 13:11-13 Jn 3:16-18
Deacon Jim McFadden; SJB
In the aftermath of our current president’s foreign trip, two of his top advisors wrote an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal in which they said: “The president embarked on his first foreign trip with a clear-eyed outlook that the world is not a ‘global community’ but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage.”
That passage struck me like a thunderbolt as it seemed to assert that selfishness, looking out for Number One, whether it be I as an individual or by extension the tribe with which I identify, is the sole driver and purpose of human affairs. In this worldview, morality, the Common Good, trust, cooperation—in short, being in solidarity with other human beings is foolishness in the struggle of all against all. It’s all about competing self-interests.
Is that what it means to be a human being fully alive—that life is nothing more than a fierce and competitive struggle for the goods of the world?; that the end game is dominance in which there are “winners and losers and you best not be on the wrong side?” to paraphrase Bruce Springsteen (cf. The River).
But as Christians, we only have to look to the model of the Trinity, which are celebrating today, for answers to those questions. We believe in a Communitarian God, The Most Holy Trinity, which teaches us who God is. Since we are made in the image of God, it teaches us what it means to be fully human. It means to live together in solidarity with one another.
What does it mean that God is a Communitarian God? What does it mean to proclaim that God is three-in-One? We’re not referring to three individual gods. We don’t believe in the Father-god, the Son-god, and the Holy Spirit-god. If God were three separate, independent, self-contained individuals, there would be no creation and no you. Why not? Because if God were independent and isolated, he would not want to create, to share Life. Why should he? God has himself and doesn’t need you or anyone else.
But, when we say that God is three-in-One, we are saying that God is a community, a family of three persons sharing one divine nature which is Love. Unlike an individual who is isolated and independent, a person necessarily is in relationship to other persons. When we say that we believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, we are proclaiming a belief in a community of Persons who surrounds us, embraces us everywhere and loves us unconditionally exactly the same way they love themselves.
So, God the Father would not be Father unless He as Lover pours himself completely and totally into His Son, the Beloved. The Son receives everything from His Father and gives it all back! And we call that unending Loving between the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit. Lover-Beloved-Loving: complete giving/complete receiving.
Giving and receiving is not only the basis of God, but is the underlying reality of all creation; it is the foundation of all meaningful relationships. We don’t live to “compete for advantage” over one another; we don’t live to dominate and control others. NO! We never simply live, but we always live together as we participate in Trinitarian life. Whatever favors a shared life of giving and receiving is worthwhile. Hence we live in this community style of living God’s existence by cooperating with one another, by forgiving and reconciling, by promoting the Common Good even at the expense of our personal self-interest.
Rather than fighting tooth and claw in the jungle, this communitarian style of living makes us attentive to the most vulnerable because as Jesus reveals to us in Matthew 25 that whatever we do to the least of his brethren, we do to Him. Therefore, as we proclaim our belief in the triune God, we take the side of the poor, those on the margins, who are a constant reminder that human relationships should not be based on a dynamic of oppressors and oppressed, winners and losers.
Through the perfect Revelation of our Lord Jesus, we joyfully accept that the Trinity is the very heart of Reality as it reveals Who God is, who we are, and the significance of the universe. We can know in our hearts the triune God when we do what God does: when we pour ourselves—our life—into others. In so doing, we don’t seek advantage or dominance, but help build community and solidarity grounded in the God, who is Love.