Chaos and Community: A Reflection by Deacon Alan Doty

We celebrate today the great mystery of the Holy Trinity, of the one God being an eternal exchange of love between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is a mystery, one that cannot be solved or even deeply understood.  Being practical people, we may decide to put the Trinity on a back shelf, something beautiful but not very practical. Why spend mental energy on a concept that can never be understood? 

The Trinity is neither a concept, nor a theological abstraction. The Trinity is a relationship, a deep and moving experience. Trinity is God’s love in action; it’s about living in community and living for community. 

When the Son became incarnate, humanity was invited into the union of the Trinity. That makes today’s feast day so relevant that this world and our lives do not make sense without it. It makes a difference, you see, what you believe, what you hope for, and what you love. 

On this great feast day, let us turn towards how the life of Trinity can guide us in our lives. The mystery of the Trinity illuminates the meaning of human life and all within it, from the beauty of a baby’s baptism to the ugliness of racism. After all, we were made in the image of God. To understand ourselves better we can start with trying to understand what we can of the Triune God. 

Let’s start with the most fundamental thing we know about God – ‘God is Love’. That short sentence reveals the Trinity because love requires there be another person to love. We can only say that God is love because the Father and the Son for all eternity have been loving each other, and that love between them is the Holy Spirit.

As a deacon, one of things I most enjoy, one of the things I missed so much over the past months has been baptisms. The baptism liturgy is all about the Trinity. We baptize with the formula left us by Jesus in the great commission:  ‘In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit’. (Mt 28). In baptism, the child is welcomed into the family of God through the grace of the Son and the action of the Holy Spirit.  Through baptism, God offers us the gift of everlasting life in heaven and calls and invites us to dwell in the Trinity. That is what we remember every time we make the sign of the cross, avowing our baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. This blessing unites us with the past, present and future.  We celebrate with joy God the Father, the Creator, God the Son, savior and liberator, and God the Holy Spirit, counsellor and consoler. 

“God is Love”. Another thing that we know about love is that it is a choice. God did not have to create us, because God was perfectly happy in himself. Why, then, would God choose to create the world and us? God created the world so that we might all share in the communion of love we call the Trinity. And so we read – “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (Jn 3). 

How can we use the reality of the Trinity to understand and begin to heal a nation suffering from illness of COVID virus and from the illness of racism?  Here are some of the obstacles to Trinitarian life in this nation and this world:

Divisions and lack of unity.  More and more our politics and our personal lives are lived in competing factions. The common good, the good of humanity has been replaced by what’s good for me or what position my group, whatever artificial dichotomy I identify with, has taken. In the face of this pandemic we are in danger of politicizing even science. The politics of identity has become the politics of conflict.  This violation of the community and sharing principle of Trinity has brought increasing intolerance and even hatred to this great nation.The antidote to the poison of racism is community and solidarity. 

Selfishness and avarice of those who have power. The root of many, perhaps all, sin is the belief that we can get away with it. Every one of us is tempted to impose our will on others and we might say in our hearts that “God has forgotten, shows no concern, never bothers to look”. (Ps 10).  So the poor are oppressed, racism persists, the helpless are murdered, and we grab what we want under the cover of chaos. Compare this to the life of the Son, the second person of the Trinity, who said “I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me”. (Jn 6)  

You see, it makes a difference, what you believe, what you hope for, what you love.The Trinitarian understanding of God is empowering and liberating: a God who lives in community. There is no power.  There is only love shared among three persons of the Trinity.  If God lives in harmonious community, we who are created in God’s image must work to solve our problem through a sense of community and common good. If you believe in the Triune God, you should prove it by your life and demonstrate it by your actions. Let this feast of Trinity come as a healing power to a nation wounded by pandemic and racial injustice.

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