Most Holy Trinity Year C

Trinity Sunday gives us a wonderful moment to reflect on how mysterious God is, how little we can say no matter how vast our desire. It also prompts us to recall that cardinal Bible sin, idolatry: false claims about God, often overbalanced toward certainty and projection, i.e., making God too much like ourselves. John’s Gospel is the best place to find good language about the Trinity, while the Old Testament  offers less, with today’s passage from Proverbs suggesting a partner for God, albeit a creaturely one. What I find more helpful is Karen Armstrong’s description of how the Eastern medieval tradition read Genesis 18. Let me offer that passage for reflection:

One of the most famous icons of all times is The Old Testament Trinity by the fifteenth-century Russian painter Alexander Rublev...based on the story of Abraham and the three strangers, whom Rublev depicts as angels, messengers of the unknowable God. Each represents one of the Trinitarian “persons”; they look interchangeable and can be identified only by their symbolically colored garments and the emblem behind each one. Abraham’s table has become an altar, and the elaborate meal he prepared has been reduced to the Eucharistic cup. The three angels sit in a circle, emblem of perfection and infinity, and the viewer is positioned on the empty side of the table. Immediately Rublev suggests that Christians can experience the truth of the Trinity in the Eucharistic liturgy, in communion with God and one another, and—recalling the Genesis story—in a life of compassion. The central angel representing the Son immediately attracts our attention, yet he does not return our gaze but looks toward the Father, the angel on his right. Instead of returning his regard, the Father directs his attention to the figure at the right of the painting, whose gaze is directed within. We are thus drawn into the perpetual circling motion described by Gregory of Nazianzus. This is not an overbearing deity, demanding exclusive loyalty and total attention to himself. We meet not of the prosopoi [persons] head-on; each refers us to the other in eternal personal dispossession. There is no selfhood in the Trinity. Instead there is silence and kenosis [emptying of self].” (Karen Armstrong, The Case for God, pgs. 117-18).

Advertisement

Barbara Green, O.P.

 

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
we vnornm
8 years ago
Good lines from St. G. of N: "In the one God are three pulsations that move the world. Through them I became a new and different person when I came out of the font, where my death was buried, into the light-a man (person) restored to life from the dead. If God cleansed me so completely, then I must worship him with my whole being." amdg. bvo

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

A woman religious casts her ballot May 25 in Dublin as Ireland holds a referendum on its law on abortion. Voters went to the polls May 25 to decide whether to liberalize the country's abortion laws. (CNS photo/Alex Fraser, Reuters)
The repeal of Ireland's Eighth Amendment, which guarantees the right to life of the unborn, is passing by a 2-1 margin with most of the votes counted.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testifies at a House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Tuesday, May 22, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
The Secretary of Education stirred up controversy when she said it was up to schools to decide if an undocumented student should be reported to authorities.
J.D. Long-GarcíaMay 25, 2018
Thousands gathered in Dublin May 12 to say "Love Both" and "Vote No" to abortion on demand. They were protesting abortion on demand in the forthcoming referendum May 25. (CNS photo/John McElroy)
“Priests and bishops get verbal abuse by being told, ‘How can you speak for women? You don’t know what it’s like!’”
America StaffMay 25, 2018
The coffin containing the body of St. John XXIII is seen during a ceremony in Vittorio Veneto Square after its arrival in Bergamo, Italy, May 24. The body of the late pope left the Vatican on May 24 to be displayed in his home region until June 10. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

BERGAMO, Italy (CNS) — Accompanied by Bishop Francesco Beschi of Bergamo and escorted by both Italian and Vatican police officers, the glass coffin containing the body of St. John XXIII left the Vatican early on May 24 for a 370-mile drive to Bergamo.