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 7 months 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

The latest from america

In 1983, Sri Lanka descended into a bitter and prolonged ethnic conflict. Harry Miller, S.J., then almost 60, was thrust into a new role as witness, advocate, intermediary and protector not only for his students but for anyone in Batticaloa who sought his help.
Jeannine GuthrieJanuary 17, 2019
I have found that praying 15 minutes every day is an important form of self-care.
Michael R. Lovell January 16, 2019
Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, Washington's retired archbishop, apologized Jan. 15 for what he called a "lapse of memory," clarifying that he knew of at least one abuse allegation against former U.S. Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, but he had "forgotten" about it.
Pope Francis meets with the leadership of the Chilean bishops' conference at the Vatican on Jan. 14 to talk about the sex abuse crisis affecting the church in Chile. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)
The pope wants the February summit “to be an assembly of pastors, not an academic conference—a meeting characterized by prayer and discernment, a catechetical and working gathering.”
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 16, 2019