Sunday Gospel Reflection for Trinity Sunday, June 12th By Brian Maher OMI
Janis Ian, a singer songwriter of the seventies released the song “At Seventeen” in 1975, capturing the loneliness and angst of being a teenager. In it she talked about the pain of feeling ‘left out’, being one of those who… “desperately remain at home, inventing lovers on the phone, who call to say, ‘come dance with me….”, and in a later verse she writes: “To those of us who knew the pain / Of valentines that never came / And those whose names were never called / When choosing sides for basketball…”
Any teenager who has ever yelled, “nobody understands me.” knows what it’s like to feel alone and misunderstood.
Teens, of course, do not have a monopoly on loneliness (though sometimes they might like to think they do!). Grief, old age, illness, bereavement, trauma, all produce their own experiences of loneliness and there is absolutely nothing good or nice about any of them.
Loneliness, in all its faces, has to be, for me, the most negative of all conditions. We are social beings, made to interact with others, to form relationships, to have friends and, if we’re lucky, have people in our lives we can truly say we love. Being stripped of these takes away our humanity, leaving us with a poverty of spirit we were not created to carry.
The thought of God being alone is abhorrent to me. Even as a child, the images of God as a kindly old man on a huge golden throne, surrounded by choirs of harp-playing angels, left me feeling nothing other than sorry for God. Imagine creating everything and ending up isolated and lonely? It was – and is – a horrible thought.
So when, as I grew older, I heard of Father, Son and Spirit, I instinctively loved the idea. It didn’t matter to me about the intricacies of reconciling three distinct persons with only one God. All that mattered to me was that in my child’s mind God was not lonely any more. He (it was still in the days when God was thought of as male) was in a kind of loving family where he was happy and content.
Today, many years later, that is still really all that matters to me. When I strip away all the theology of Trinity I ever learned, (the meaning of ‘persons’, relationships, active and passive spirations, etc.) I am still left with a mystery I can never understand. But I am also left with that warm and pleasing sense that God is not alone, and that means everything to me. I think it is why Rublev’s icon of the Trinity has come to mean so much to me.
Loneliness, being alone, even if we have all the possessions in the world, will never bring us happiness. In fact it will lead to misery. Probably the greatest tragedy of Marilyn Munroe’s sad life was loneliness, an overwhelming sense that, despite fame and wealth, she was alone and unloved. We have a natural aversion to being alone or feeling alone. It is why solitary confinement is considered a kind of torture, and why the necessary isolation due to Covid-19 was so difficult for many people to live with.
We were created, we are told in Genesis, in God’s image and likeness. In each human person lies an imprint, a shadow of the God who created us. As Psalm 8 puts it so well, “…Yet you have made us little less than a God, / With glory and honour you crowned us.”
We were not created to be alone because God is not alone. Our need for relationship with others, our constant search for love and the happiness that friendship gives us, all arise from the reality that these things – relationship, love, happiness – are all present to perfection within God, and we are made in God’s image and likeness.
We grow up being told that the Trinity is a mystery and we cannot understand it. The temptation is therefore to dismiss it and not reflect on it. What a pity and what a tragedy if we do that.
The truth is that every time we enter into relationship with another, every time we love another or experience the love of another, every time we share a meal or a chat or a drink with a friend, we are experiencing what God’s life is like – God’s Trinitarian life of perfect love, infinite harmonious relationship and never ending, respectful friendship.
We can never ‘understand’ the life of the Trinity, but that does not mean that we cannot experience it is some small way. Anyone who has experienced the emotions of a mutual ‘falling in love’ may know what I mean.
It is not pride or arrogance to say, “I have experienced, in some tiny way, what the life of the Trinity must be like.” Why? Because we were created to share in that experience. The incredible gift of being made in God’s image and likeness, promises us this glimpse into God’s own life.
All of the wonderful positive emotions and experiences we long for and search for – joy, peace, happiness, love, intimacy, friendship, acceptance, etc. – are present to perfection in the eternal love of our Trinitarian God. Our constant search for all of these things, our prayers that our children may experience them, and our unselfish joy when they do, draw us into the life of God. We were created in God’s image and likeness so that God could share his life with us. We should both reflect on its wonder constantly, and rejoice in it always.
It was St. Paul who said, “We see now dimly as in a mirror, but then we shall see face-to-face.”
This, for me, is exactly how we should approach this great Feast of the Trinity. Humbly, knowing that we will never do any more than see dimly; in awe that God chose to create us in his image and likeness; and in gratitude that God has allowed us to share in his own life.
If you have any comments, questions or thoughts on this scripture reflection, please feel welcome to email me at email@example.com
|Gospel||John 16:12-15 ©|
The Spirit of truth will lead you to the complete truth
- Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)
- Click to email a link to a friend (Opens in new window)
- Click to print (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)
Gospel Reflection for Pentecost Sunday – 28th May 2023
Gospel Reflection for the Pentecost Sunday May 28th 2023 On this great...
Gospel Reflection for the Seventh Sunday of Easter – 21st May 2023
If anybody tells you that this is an easy Gospel to understand,...
Gospel Reflection for the Sixth Sunday of Easter – 14th May 2023
It is the height of arrogance, I know, but you will understand...
Gospel Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Easter – 7th May 2023
There must have been many times in Jesus’ life when he wondered...
Gospel Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Easter – 30th April 2023
Of all the animals that walked off the Ark two by two...
Gospel Reflection for the Third Sunday of Easter – 23rd April 2023
The Resurrection account of the two disciples on their way to Emmaus...