On June 3rd we celebrated the Feast of the Holy Trinity. Who came up with this teaching and why?
In more recent years, the Trinitarian proclamation has fallen into disfavour because of a reading of history that tells us that it was a group of male bishops in the early 4th century who took Jesus’ teachings of love and turned them into this big complicated articulation of faith with which we’ve been burdened ever since. Critics of this Christian teaching will note that the word ‘trinity’ never once appears in the Bible and claim, therefore, that it was a later addition to the faith.
In fact, what this criticisms misses is critically important. First of all, although the teaching does seem complicated, it is ultimately based on the experience of regular men and women of faith. It is an experience that might not be named at ‘Trinity’ in the Bible, but is consistently visible throughout our Sacred Story, and continues to be visible through the centuries up into our lives today. The experience is this:
-That relationship is at the heart of who God is.
-That God can be understood as operating in three distinct ways – God the Source of all being, God who we meet in one another, God who moves within each of us drawing us into relationship with one another and with God. These distinct activities or ‘persons’ of God are described in many different ways: God above us, God beside us, God within us; God the one who offers Self in love, God who receives that love, God who is Love; Father, Son, Holy Spirit; Parent, Child, Bond of Love; Source, Word, Spirit.
Secondly, a closer reading of church history actually blows apart any simplistic conclusions. The doctrine of the Trinity was not made up and then implemented by a group of male bishops. It took over eighty years of conversation, study of Scripture, and the development of the church community (the WHOLE church community, made up primarily of ordinary men and women over the course of several generations, not bishops) to agree on articulating their experience of God as holding three distinct identities, while moving and working and acting and loving for a common, unified purpose. Again, it was because of experience, the lived experience of real men and women, that turned the words and teachings we celebrate today into part of the backbone of the Christian faith.
Today, we give thanks for the witness of those early Christians. It is the witness that God was at work in the world through Jesus. It is the witness of the ‘overwhelming presence’ of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit wasn’t just letting them remember and venerate and worship Jesus. The Holy Spirit was making them BE Jesus! We give thanks for this witness, and we are invited, this weekend once again to look for our own witness, where this teaching, this insight, this faith passed down to us, connects with our own experience, our own lives, our own relationship with God and one another.



Communities as a Sign of Peace

Today, as never before, we need communities of welcome; communities that are a sign of peace in a world of war. There is no point in praying for peace in the Middle East, for example, if we are not peace-makers in our own community; if we are not forgiving those in our community who have hurt us or with whom we find it difficult to live. Young people, as well those who are older, are sensitive to this vision of peace. It must continually be announced so that hearts and minds are nourished.

Jean Vanier, Community and Growth, p. 177