Veronica M Lawson RSM
30 May 2012
In the closing verses of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus claims all the power and authority of the God of Israel. He commands his disciples to make disciples of all peoples and to baptise in the name of the Triune God.
At the beginning of the Matthean gospel, Jesus is named Emmanuel, ‘God with us’. With his final assurance, ‘know that I am with you always’, we find ourselves gathered into the very life of God.
Perichoresis, a Greek term suggestive of dancing or of figures interweaving, is one of the earliest and probably one of the most striking images used to explain this Trinitarian life. The life that is in God is three and yet one in a totally harmonious dance of equals. The wonder is that we are invited to join the dance.
Trinity Sunday is the day that we set aside to celebrate the nearness of the God who draws us into the dance of life and love. Mine is a very short reflection as Professor Anne Hunt has kindly agreed to share some of her wisdom on this extraordinary feast:
‘Today is an unusual day in the Church’s calendar – it is the only Sunday when we celebrate who God is, as distinct from what God has done. It is no accident that we celebrate this feast at this particular point in the liturgical year – after Easter, the Ascension and Pentecost. It is no accident because it wasthrough those events that the disciples came to the amazing realisation that God is threefold, a Trinity of divine persons. In other words, God comes to us, communicates with us, and relates to us in three distinct ways as three distinct persons or subjects.
‘This sure sense of the three-ness in the one God emerged in the early Church’s understanding of God. It is a conviction that has confounded Christians ever since – how to express this, how to make sense of it, and how to speak of it without sinking into an obvious contradiction in terms. What is reassuring and invigorating for our faith today is that our foremothers and forefathers among the early Christians, as well as the many saints and mystics throughout the ages, were keenly aware of this reality. They recognised that these Three, whom they called Father, Son and Holy Spirit, coexist in the one God, and that this is the threefold love in which we – and indeed all creation – live and move and have our being.
‘We, each and every one of us, like the early disciples and the saints and mystics, are invited into that threefold love, into relationship with these Three. Our prayer today is that we – individually and together – might enter ever more deeply into this mystery of God’s threefold being, this threefold love, this grace, and allow it to enter into us, and to work in us. This indeed is grace: it is God, the Trinity, abiding in us and transforming us ever more closely into God’s image. Little by little, we come to see, understand and love the world and all the people in it – if but dimly – as God sees, understands and loves them. That is in fact what we glimpse in the lives of holy people, and that is what is promised to each and every one of us.’