I quote Richard Rohr: “I think it’s foolish to presume we can understand Jesus if we don’t first of all understand the Trinity. We will continually misinterpret and misuse Jesus if we don’t first participate in the circle dance of mutuality and communion within which he participated.”
The reality of the Holy Trinity a mystery – an incomprehensible concept. Thankfully, mysteries can be talked about. They can be described. They have clues that our minds can grasp. A mystery remains a mystery unless and until we grasp it in its totality. But, when it comes to God we simply cannot grasp the total reality of God.
We know, because we’ve been taught, that the inner nature of God, in whose image and likeness we are made, is Three Persons who, however distinct they are, totally belong to each other. Humans, because they are made in God’s image, are made to belong in a special kind of belonging. We (Benedictines at Holy Name Monastery) are free persons who chose to live in a community where we are mutually dependent on each other for full existence. While there is a style of belonging that enslaves – a possessive belonging – there is also a belonging that gives freedom, the freedom to be who we are as persons.
The concept of the Holy Trinity is a mystery, but not a total mystery. Mysteries, after all, are made up of clues. In a mystery story we pursue and piece together clues in order to see the whole picture. So it is with the Holy Trinity. We have lots of clues about the Holy Trinity. And when we pursue them and piece them together we get a good glimpse into what kind of a god our God is. God is all about love. And when we live in love we live in God, and God lives in us. Living in love, however, does not mean we must all be exactly the same.
There’s a great deal of confusion about this in today’s culture. But it’s ridiculous to think that all persons must be the same. We aren’t meant to be ducks in a row, waddling to the same tempo. We honor our Triune God in whose image we are made. God the Creator is a distinct Person; the God the Son, our Savior is a distinct Person; and God the Holy Spirit is a distinct person. Distinct though they are, however, they exist in one being of infinite love. They exist in one unbreakable bond, in one infinite union of being together.
While all of that remains a mystery to us, it is not so mysterious that we cannot live with each other in a reality of life that reflects and shares in the reality of God’s life. To live a God-like life we must forgive rather than condemn. We must build-up and affirm rather than tear down. We must see the best, not the worst. We must be self-sacrificial and not self-centered. We must be giving rather than grasping. We must offer hope, not despair. We must heal rather than wound. All of this is best affirmed and nurtured in what we know as a community. There is nothing in life that more closely reflects the reality of the Holy Trinity than genuine family life. This concept is mimicked in intentional community life. For it is in such a setting that we not only belong but also where we discover, nurture, and affirm our own unique and individual personalities. It is in living the reality of being truly a community that we have a glimpse into the life of the Trinity.
In our community prayer, a “Trinitarian-like movement” echoes the rhythm of our whole lives. In Lectio we go up to the mountaintop with Jesus, we have conversation with Him there, and we return to everyday life among his people. Notice, too, in our communal prayer, a three-fold movement: we sit, we stand, we bow. In our chants, we don’t always have to harmonize (singing different but complementary melodies) but we do strive to keep our voices in harmony with each other – one heart, one voice, one love.
We all have different views about the mystery we celebrate today. We have different views in our heads about who God is and what God is like. But I think we agree: God is love and we are made in God’s image. But, love is only a word until someone gives it meaning. To be true to our calling we must be the ones who give meaning to love in our world. We, Benedictine Sisters of Florida – and our Oblates and Volunteers – put flesh on that calling through our Corporate Commitment: We commit ourselves and our resources to respond with the compassion of Christ to the hungers of the people of God.
~Reflection By Sister Roberta Bailey, OSB, Prioress