Father Walter Burghardt sj in a homily on the Trinity said, ‘Fear not, I shall not solve the most difficult of Christian mysteries. I shall not bore you with technical theology. But, I feel I must tell you of a God who does not dwell in outer space, ‘far from’ what poet Thomas Gray called ‘the madding crowd’s ignoble strife.’ Our Trinity, God, three in one, is a God for us’ (Speak the Word With Boldness, 1994). Today’s solemnity really is simple. In Jesus, God is not only ‘for us’ but ‘with us’ and - through the presence of the Spirit - ‘within us.’
The Trinity is God dynamic, communicating; there is fellowship, communion, love at the very essence or heart of God. The scriptures constantly remind us that God has always and is for us and fully invested in the lives of people. Paul also celebrates the God who is ‘for us’. This God gives us the status of sons and daughters. God took a personal interest in a relatively insignificant people and continues to show a primary interest in people who seem to be insignificant. That includes us.
Last week, for Pentecost, I suggested that it was really a push back, a rebellion, against any attempt to restrict or limit God to a single, respectable or official language of any one people, institution or theological position. It is about God’s refusal to be silenced by the language of the powerful but speaking in the streets, not the halls of power, through people beyond age, gender, or social status. It shows that God opposes any tendency to force unity through sameness and exclusivity, or conflating righteousness with homogeneity, or demanding people conform to arbitrary standards of respectability.
As language has often been weaponised to restrict voices of people seen as different or threatening, so too has our image of God. Today’s solemnity is also a push back or act of resistance to a view of God as hierarchical, monarchical, or exclusive to accommodate our prejudices towards others and our failures to our failures to listen to the voices of others and the Earth. This solemnity is about relationship and connections.
Next Sunday, we begin National Refugee Week (June 19 to June 25). It will be an opportunity to recognise our failures in connecting and relating to people who have been demonized, dehumanised and labeled as a threat. As I write, celebrations are taking place to commemorate 30 Years of the Mabo decision where the High Court said that this country was not ’terra nullius’ but peopled by the First Nations people yet though they have welcomed us on their land they continue to suffer from colonisation and its injustices where they are not heard and when they speak out they are considered troublemakers. This solemnity must speak to these issues as well as issues of domestic violence, the paucity in many places of aged care, the homelessness of many people even women and youth. These suggest that where gross economic and social inequity exist, our relationships are ‘out of whack’. Pope Francis reminds us that the ’throwaway culture’ affects our Earth but this also applies to our treatment of people as ’throwaway’ and other living beings. If this solemnity means anything it must connect with these issues and the God who calls us to be with and for others. The God Jesus incarnates and makes present is moved to grief and anguish by what people do to one another.
Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice (1982) says that women find their identity in relationships rather than following masculine patterns of hierarchy. According to Gilligan, women’s experiences of interconnection replace assumptions about hierarchy and power God is not solitary or unrelated but active and continually connecting with us.
Jesus sends the disciples (and us) with a mission to bring this experience of God to the world; that we are made in God’s image – an image that reflects a relational way of being and living with God and each other - and all creation. Geographically, this begins in our homes and streets: it includes those who are hurting, neglected, dismissed, overlooked.
Concretely, every time we seek to heal, offer forgiveness, give ourselves for the sake of another, embrace those who are unwanted or neglected (tough message and unclean!), speak the truth fearlessly against injustice or violence and war, hypocrisy, greed and violence or to promote peace and right relationship with all creatures or put one’s body in the way and at risk where there is injustice and inhumanity or violence,– then we are witnessing to our connection with the God we celebrate today.
The varying presences of God in people tells us that this feast not just about God but about us. It is about people who are caught up in God’s embrace and seek to continue to extend that embrace to ever wider circles of people. This is what people do when they seek to bring hope to people that they do not know, or will never see.
It is a mission to build up our corner of God’s world so that it expresses the inclusive pattern today’s feast suggest. It might seem an exaggeration, but becomes concrete in our work of peace and justice. It touches on how we see people that we rub shoulders with on our streets. It touches how we recognise people held in our detention centres or even on Guantanamo as brothers and sisters, it touches on the way we see the people of foreign to us where the image of God and their dignity has been deprived.
Our actions for the street person, the transgender person, the drug addict, the homeless person, the annoying person who demands our attention reveal what Jesus tried to do: that this God is not remote. We put skin on God by our interactions, our care, our justice seeking. For Jesus, God is a part of what we do. It is a way of seeing love in action. This God is not in heaven but in each of us and reflected in what we do. If we want to look for God this is where we must search - God in the liberating practice of people.
The community of Jesus disciples is sent, as we are, to extend God's work of creating a more humane society and remind people and act in ways that we bear God’s image. The peace of the Trinity is no abstraction but God as a community of life and love into which we all drawn into. This is what calls us to action and calls us to carry the love and goodness of God everywhere we go. Geographically, this begins in our homes and streets: it includes those who are hurting, neglected, dismissed, overlooked
In Andre Rublev’s icon of the Trinity we see three persons. Could it contain more? There is an empty place at the table and the circle of communion is incomplete until we take our place there as well. This solemnity is not only about God but about us. There is a fourth – that is each one of us. We all have place in this circle… as does every other person. May we deepen our work for justice, where we embrace the stranger and the outsider and honour difference and diversity. We are reminded that we are God’s companions to bring about healing one intentional and loving act at a time in our daily lives and political and economic commitments. It proclaims that God’s bias is toward innovation, justice-making, hospitality, unity, and healing. To embody God’s Trinity is to imitate Jesus – and Jesus’ own reflection of divine healing-creativity
God, Spirit, Jesus, Wisdom, Sophia,
breathe on us, comfort us, teach us.
Give us your wisdom
born of relationships of justice, courage and compassion.
Empower us to boldly live your wisdom
in a world not yet ready
for the fullness of your liberation and loving.