We began this week on Trinity Sunday, a feast which often pulls preachers to try to “explain” or illustrate the mystery, which too often stays at the level of ideas and misses the day to day pull of the Trinity in our lives; the pull to share unity,or oneness. Catherine LaCugna, theologian and author explains that there are two ways we can ponder Trinity: as “Essential Trinity,” that is, the inner essence or life of the three-in–one, an exploration which could be called speculative theology, and the Economic Trinity, the Trinity we meet in our lives, who we experience present and moving in and through us every day.
With the amazing crowds of demonstrators filling our streets these last two weeks, with the stark reality of the divisions and inequality in our society laid out for us to see writ large, there’s no time like the present to be contemplating about One-ness.
Theologians who have been scoping out the inner life of the trinity, the Three-in-one, seem to think that the three divine persons have an eternally wonderful time being Trinity, for ages unending dancing their stately circle dance of perichoresis: a never-broken exchange of love, the ecstatic overflowing of divine life in creation and redemption.
But right now it is quite evident to us that the being-one to which we are called, is not a “fun-one,” that the work of joining of hearts in our world is, to slightly misquote Dostoevsky’s Father Zosima, “A harsh and terrible reality.”
Making Oneness a human reality is a labor. The words we generate about the mystery revealed to us in Jesus –as we’ve just heard again the Beatitudes in Matthew–mercy, poorness of spirit, pureness of heart, peace, justice—are nice, but they have to applied. By us. To people. All kinds of people.
This demands that we exercise our call to be part of, to be witnesses of Oneness, to our destiny in the Spirit of Christ Jesus, to be more open, to do more listening, interceding, showing up, growing in our presence to, and as peace.
Who are we called to be one with?
The angry, the disagreeable, the intransigent, the bitter, the desperate, the unforgiving.
People who irritate and exhaust us.
And additionally, people who sin against us. People who do not wish us well. People who stand against the beliefs we profess, mocking the things we stand for, we hope for –and would stop us if they could.
The pull of the trinity at work in its everlasting overflowing is one we feel in our longings to be one, based in Jesus’ own desire, recapitulated by the Spirit who is mysteriously pulling together thousands of people suddenly awake in this moment of revelation: we are NOT one. And there is a new urgency, a re-calling of this most basic truths to be brought to a changed reality.
How shall we witness? How shall we advance the endless Giving-forth of the Trinity, the reality of a God always at work among us?
I’m pretty sure that the ecstasis of God, that constant overflow and return of abundant love that we are caught up in, and assent to being part of, feels to us more like kenosis, the emptying or pouring out of self that Jesus Incarnate shares with us. There is labor, and the exercise of patience, and the continuing-on in spite of defeats, and a demand that we face our own unholy truth, our own unexamined complicity in racism and other divisiveness.
Jesus prays “May they all be one” and it is not just a plea but a sacred promise that we grow into our oneness, or better, are gathered into oneness by the Trinity which is always at work accomplishing its own mystery, and delighting in our inclusion.