2020.06.07 The Holy Trinity
“The Hospitality of Abraham”
"The Holy Trinity"
- Andrei Rublev - born in the 1360s died between 1427 and 1430 Tretyakov Gallery - Moscow –
Evocative paintings, like Eastern Icons of holy figures may awaken our spiritual senses and grace us with glimpses of God. “This Icon by Rublev, conveys that the personal nature of God, God’s very being, is relatedness, is Father, Son, and Spirit in the unity of communion. For us to have a personal relationship with God is not a matter of two separate individuals, creature and creator, becoming ‘pals’. It is much deeper than that. It is a matter of being caught up into the very life of God, which is always personal, but never individualistic. The Trinity reminds us that Christianity is not about having a one-to-one relationship with an isolated God, nor is it about having a private relationship with God to the exclusion of others. No, from start to finish, Christianity is about participating in the Trinitarian life of God, and it is about participating in the Community of the Church, its human reflection”. (from James White, The Forgotten Trinity). (https://www.faith-theology.com/2016/05/gods-selfie-sermon-on-rublevs-icon-of.html)
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17 Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God”.
The text we contemplate today is found in the Gospel of John at the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus: after the First Sign (the Wedding at Cana) and the Cleansing of the Temple, we find this mysterious encounter of Jesus with a man called Nicodemus, a leading Pharisee and Member of the Sanhedrin. Jesus instructs him, as he comes at night for fear of being repudiated by the Pharisees. Nicodemus foreshadows the life of the Christians Members of the Community of St. John in Ephesus who suffered cruel persecution on account of their faith. Jesus tells Nicodemus that the Son of Man will be lifted up for the healing and salvation of sinners. The action of Moses in the Sinai raising up the bronze serpent is the prefiguration of Jesus Christ being lifted up to be crucified. The Work of the Trinity It might go unnoticed, however, in this text we can see a vivid description of the Mystery of the Trinity: God, the Father is He who sent his only Son, and the Holy Spirit is the One who bestows faith upon wo/men. The actions of the Trinity are different expressions of the one love of God: · The Father, in his generosity and free will, shares his eternal love by sending His Son into the world;
· The Son shows us his unlimited love by becoming one like us and by dying for us; and · The Holy Spirit makes us God-like by means of his sanctifying power. In this sense, it is important to notice that one’s acceptance of the Holy Spirit is indeed the beginning of eternal life. The World The Greek New Testament word uses for word “Kosmos” for “world”. In the context of our text, “Kosmos” can be translated by the word “humanity”: wo/men created and loved by God. In this sense, human beings were made able to receive the love of God and correspond to that same love. The Significance of the Trinity in today’s world The image of a God who is aloof, static and far from the world does not correspond with the description of the compassionate Father that Jesus spoke about.
Jesus showed rather a God who cares, feels, suffers and rejoices. Jesus speaks of God as Father, but not any type of Father. Jesus teaches · how the Father is moved to tears at the return of his lost son; · how the Father feels for His children and is generous enough to give His own self for the good of all.
We can enter into relationship with God the Father Some of us may feel the need to recover the meaning of this ontological truth (God is the Father of Jesus in a very true sense since Jesus was begotten by the power of the Spirit). In our days, we probably need to change the idea that God is a father in the patriarchal sense, like an imposing, manipulative, aggressive or dominating figure. To overcome this mistaken image, we can think of God taking the characteristics of a motherly figure, because Jesus described God the Father as self-giving, generous, approachable, attentive and forgiving. We can enter into a relationship with God, the Son · When we face difficult moments, we know that Jesus is the Way, because He accepted sacrifices willingly;
· when we love and do not receive love in return, the Son knows what it is like when one is unjustly condemned; · when we thrive with the idea of a dream becoming true, Jesus smiles because He smiles and shares the joy of life like: · being together with a group of friends; or · praying with them in the night; or · going fishing with them; or · teaching them about God; … We can enter into a relationship with the Holy Spirit Our life is full of moments when we feel excited about something good that happens to us; or sad about something dreadful that drains our energy to love. The Holy Spirit is that inner “energy” within us, giving us the desire to convert, to become more lovable, better human beings, to serve no matter the cost. The Holy Spirit is more intimate to us than what we can ever be to our own selves. We needn’t look outside of ourselves to look for the Holy Spirit and enter into relationship with Him. The dimension of the Community If today’s men and women feel thirst for God, it is because God has made us for ‘relationships’. We need that interconnectedness among human beings and with God: we need to recover a sense of being a community. That is what God offers us. We can intuitively know this when we think of a God who is not a static but a dynamic Being, because God is eternally sharing His life. Theologians call this dynamism and relatedness, the “Divine Processions”; namely, the love relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That relationship was not contained within the realm of the Eternal Blessed Trinity, but gave birth to the Cosmos through the ‘Big-Bang’ explosion that was the beginning of all God has created.
We need to recover the sense of being a community. We need to stop thinking that there is a people better or smarter or stronger or cleverer or more powerful than any other. A dreadful virus has probably made us realize that we are all vulnerable, that we all need one another. We need peace and reconciliation among all human groups, We are in need of interpersonal relationships that are meaningful to us. We need to care more for creation. We need to share our material/financial resources and our own faith, too. The Icon of the Trinity by Rublev leaves open that circular frame created between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are invited to the very communion of the Blessed Trinity. The Table of Fellowship in Heaven has a door, the door of the Martyrs, namely the door that is open for those who want to give their life in faithful service to their neighbour even to the point of loosing it.
Oratio We Labor Unto Glory My God, my God, where e'er I go, glory. Where I reap and where I sow, glory. When my hand it grips the thorn, glory. In the still and in the storm, glory, glory. Oh, we labor unto glory, 'Til heaven and earth are one! Oh, we labor unto glory, Until God's kingdom comes! The sun it shines and then goes down, glory. Rain, it pours and beats the ground, glory. Dust, it blows and ends my days, glory. Hearts they burn beneath Your gaze, glory, glory. Oh, we labor unto glory, 'Til heaven and earth are one! Oh, we labor unto glory, Until God's kingdom comes! My heart, my hands, they're kingdom bound, glory. Where thorns no longer curse the ground, glory. Trim the wick and light the flame, glory. My work, it will not be in vain, glory, glory. Oh, we labor unto glory, 'Til heaven and earth are one! Oh, we labor unto glory, Until God's kingdom comes! Oh, we labor unto glory, Till heaven and earth are one! Oh, we labor unto glory! Until God's kingdom comes! Until God's kingdom comes! Until God's kingdom comes!
The Porter's Gate https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRuPZCXShg4
When we think of the Trinity, we think of God who revealed His being so that we could be able to understand, know and love Him. God spoke in our own categories, as if it were in our own “human language”.
We feel a desire and thirst for God, but we may think we are not worthy of having an experience of his Being is not up to us. We may think that mystics or more gifted people, or people who are more spiritual than us, can have those experiences. However, the truth is that God has put within all us the capacity to savour His love. If we refuse the gift, we are only setting a low target to our own capacity to offer and to receive love.
In the contemplation of God’s loves for us, we can discover the immense capacity we have for love: a living spring of water within.
We can call to mind a text in the Gospels that describes the loving attitude of the Father in the words of Jesus.
During his ministry, Jesus performed many miracles and said many words. Think of one action or a word of Jesus that you would like He had done for you, or said to you, today.
In the last weeks, we have been invited to contemplate the action of the Holy Spirit within us. We can focus today on the blessedness of being created for relationships, for communion and communication that enables us to express our love to one another.
We can contemplate that gift and see how we can further grow in communion with our friends, relatives and neighbours.
None of the figures in Rublev’s icon is speaking, they sit in silent, prayerful contemplation. So let us, like them, be quiet for a moment – in silent, prayerful contemplation …
 The first Christian community in Ephesus was established by St. Paul. In 64 A.D., after St Paul was decapitated outside the city walls of Rome, John became the leader of the Church Community in Ephesus. In spite of his old age, St John went around Asia Minor together with St Peter to spread Christianity. He was tried to be executed on two occasions; a glass of poisonous drink was given him but through a miracle the poison came out of the liquid in the form of a snake just as St John was ready to drink it. St John was exiled to the Island of Patmos where he wrote the Book of the Apocalypse. In 95 A.D., he returned to Ephesus and started writing his Gospel. St John died there and was buried near Ephesus.  Numbers 21:9: “So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live”.  Gen. 22:1-2: “After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.’” Matt. 21:37-38: “Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.’”  John 15:15: “I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father”.  Matt. 12:31: “Therefore I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven”.  Luke 7: 13: “When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’”  Luke 14: 15:16: “One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, ‘Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Someone gave a great dinner and invited many…’”.  Luke 15:20: “He ran and put his arms around him and kissed him”.  Rom. 5:8; 8:32: “But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us…” “He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?”  Romans 8:27: “And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God”.