Reflections on Trinity Sunday: 30th May 2021

This weekend we have two reflections to share with you and also a video. So there is plenty to get you thinking as we celebrate this special feast day.

Reflection One: “Relationship”

‘The deepest and most profound truths of our lives are not provable facts. They are, rather, relational, personal, and intimate. They offer experiences and meaning, not explanations and understanding. The Feast of the Holy Trinity is not about a doctrine, ideas, or concepts. It is a feast of life, a feast of being and existence, a feast of love, a feast of sharing and giving.’1

‘When we describe God, we can only use similes, analogies, and metaphors. All theological language is an approximation, offered tentatively in holy awe. That’s the best human language can achieve. We can say, “It’s like . . .” or “It’s similar to . . .”; but we can never say with absolute certainty, “It is . . .”, because we are in the realm of beyond, of transcendence, of mystery. We absolutely must maintain a fundamental humility before the Great Mystery; otherwise religion worships itself and its formulations instead of God. The mystics would say that whenever we stand apart and objectify anything we stop knowing it. We have to love, respect and enter into relationship with what we desire to know. Yet Mystery isn’t something we cannot understand. Mystery is endlessly understandable. “The Spirit of truth will lead you to the complete truth.” ( John 16:13) There is no point at which we can say, ‘I’ve got it’. Always, and forever, Mystery gets you.

Trinity is saying, “In the beginning is the relationship.” “Let us create in our image” (Genesis 1:26-27). When we start with God as relationship, we begin the spiritual journey with an awareness that there has to be a DNA connection between the One who creates and what is created. Both science and theology use this same language of relationship. One of the many wonderful things that scientists are discovering is that the pattern of the neutrons, protons, and electrons in atoms is similar to the pattern of planets, stars, and galaxies: both are in orbit around one another, and all appears to be in relationship to everything else. The energy in the universe is not in the planets, nor in the atomic particles, but very surprisingly in the relationship between them. The energy in the Trinity is not in any precise definition or in the partly arbitrary names of the three persons of the Trinity as much as in the relationship between the Three. We must reclaim Relationship as the foundation and ground of everything. The Trinitarian revelation starts with the nature of loving—and this is the very nature of being!2

Adapted: [1] Michael Marsh [2] Richard Rohr

Video

This video is session 3 of a retreat given by Matthew Wright. The first 37 mins is on the Trinity and the remainder is on the Incarnation.

Our editor writes “After listening to the part on the Trinity, I wished I had heard it earlier in the week. My immediate reaction was to think that I would leave it and use it next year. But it’s very difficult not to share something as good as this right away so this week you have a ‘Buy one get one free’ scenario.  It’s also difficult to condense a 37 minute presentation into an A5 sheet of paper. I’ve done my best but have given you the link above in case you may be interested. I do recommend it.”

Reflection Two: “Experience Relationship”

We have framed the teaching on the Trinity as a belief rather than as an experience. We see different facets of the mystery of the Trinity in Jesus’ life. These are 3 ways in which he talks about his own experience of the divine-human relationship:

  • ‘The Father is greater than I’ (John 14:28) – an experience of ‘beyondness’;
  • ‘I am in the Father and the Father is in me.’ (John 14:11) – an experience of intimacy;
  • ‘I and the Father are one.’ (John 10:30) – an experience of oneness, of being inseparable, of total union.

These three facets of the Trinitarian experience and the divine-human relationship are open to all of us. If we only allow the ‘beyondness’ relationship our religion can become fear-based, hierarchical, legalistic and paternalistic. Our sacramental traditions and our time spent in reflection and prayer provide the experience of intimacy. But we are uneasy about the experience of oneness. We say, “Only Jesus gets to say that.” ‘We refuse to realise it. We remain blind and deaf to it because we are too busy, which generally means we are too frightened to go deep within ourselves and find God there. All evil springs from my refusal to discover who and what I truly am, from my failure to realise that I and the Father are one.’

H.A.Williams

All of these facets are not only open to all of us but we need all of them. Any spirituality without all 3 of these experiences becomes imbalanced. This isn’t a ladder. This is a circle and we dance through all of these experiences throughout the course of our lives and we even pass through all three in one period of prayer. We have those moments in life when we need nothing more than to call out to the God who is greater than us; we have those moments when we need nothing more than intimacy and the experience of belovedness; we have those moments in deep silence when nothing is desired but total union….until the dance begins again. A balanced spirituality exercises each facet of this relationship. Which of these facets have we most cultivated and which are most under-cultivated?

Matthew Wright