Sunday, May 31, 2015

A Reflection on the Trinity by Denise Menard Davis, ARCWP

I must admit, especially today when the Gospel reading included this line: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," that I would be defending trinitarian theology. Like so many of you, especially when the Vatican released their statement a few years back that those words and only those words could be used in sacramental rituals, I was appalled. It was, indeed, one more thing that pushed me out of my once beloved parish. Things change, though - and so have I - so here goes. 

When I began my  recent studies, I dreaded one thing from the very start: the day that our focus would center on The Trinity. How could I, as a feminist, easily accept what they would have to say? Well, I've been humbled. What they said has truly rocked my theological world. 

In drawing deeply from Christian mysticism, the three master teachers in different but complementary ways have presented us ways of not only accepting trinitarian theology but seeing it as absolutely necessary in understanding Jesus the Christ. The beginning point is to forget about the old description of the trinity,  three persons in one, so that one may focus on the dynamic energy of the relationships among the three. The second necessity is to begin with the awareness of "God" as being the absolute unknowable origin of all that is, so beyond comprehensibility that even when we say we don't comprehend we don't know what we don't comprehend. That unknowable origin of all, though, longs to be known so God from the very beginning has poured self into creation manifesting self in myriad ways. Everything we see and experience is a manifestation of God, but only humans, in possessing the ability of self-reflection, can name that presence/manifestation of God. Most humans, though, while being capable of identifying God's presence through those awesome moments of transcendent awareness, never quite understand that they, too, are manifestations of God as well. And so, we come to Jesus....

As the Incarnation, Jesus was aware of God's presence within, of his being a living manifestation of God to the world. In accepting that reality, and living an ever-deepening yes to the loving self God so longed to pour into all, Jesus became fully human/fully God. Now, in accepting God's gift of loving self, Jesus could have turned all his devotion and appreciation (love) back to God, creating then an exclusive relationship that existed only between the two. That is not what the trinity represents. Rather, upon receiving the endless gift of God's loving self, Jesus, in turn, poured out that gift to the world as only he - through his manifestation - could. For me, as I read Scriptures, I see a progression in Jesus that seems to reflect an ever-deepening yes, one that culminated in the Garden. There, in praying that the cup may pass by, I do believe,  Jesus could have slipped away in the night, but so aware of what such a move would have meant to those he had come to love, Jesus remained to allow all that would unfold happen. And, in accepting that sacrifice of his own life, he revealed the fullness of his yes in offering the love God poured into him to us. 

The Holy Spirit, then, is released by that powerful transformation of love as it continues to pour into the world... and it is the Holy Spirit that invites each of us into the actual dance of the trinity. And for me, this is the most important part.... In seeing through Jesus the endless pouring of God's loving self into human form, I know that God offers that gift of self to each of us so that God may be manifested to the world through the unique person each of us is. In other words, each of us is invited - called - to become "little words" of incarnation. One theologian, Raimon Panikkar, refers to us as being called to become "christic" beings, fully human/fully God - or, at least, as much as we are capable of being. 

Now, those master teachers of mine also make this point: without God as  unknowable origin, there is no Jesus the Christ. And without Jesus the Christ, there is no ability to know the unknowable origin of all. The two are inseparable.... and it is the dynamic pouring out of love so that the Holy Spirit may be released that the mystery of "God" is fully revealed. What we have then is not a triangle of hierarchy. Rather, it is much more circular, even spiral -like, in nature. With each turn of the spiral, I see yet another person being invited into the trinitarian dance.... 

In having experienced the beauty of this theology even in my own life,  I have felt my heart crack a little more open, saying, Yes, God... Yes - fill me ever more with your gift of loving self so that I may in turn pour it out into the world.... so that the Holy Spirit may be revealed and invite more into your loving embrace.

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