FEAST OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY – C – June 16, 2019

A reading from the Book of Proverbs 8:22-31
A reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans 5:1-5
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John 16:12-15

Dear Friends in Christ,

This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity.  Would you mind if we take a bit of a different journey through the Liturgy of the Word?  By that I mean that I would like to take us on a meditative journey into the Mystery we celebrate.  Who can understand the Trinity?  Should anyone try?  It is the nature of mystery to be partly grasped, even as the essence escapes comprehension.  The mystery of the Trinity – that is how God is revealed to us who believe in Jesus Christ our risen Lord.  Three persons in one unique nature – God.  Father.  Son.  Holy Spirit.  Creator.  Redeemer.  Sanctifier.  God.

Often as I pray, I sit before the Rublev Icon of the Trinity.  Three gloriously clad winged beings sit about a table, a bowl containing the slaughtered and roasted lamb before them.  As I ponder, as I invite you to do with me, I can get lost in the Icon even as it invites me to enter.  Gaze at the mystery and the wonder that is the Trinity .  Be filled with awe and be humbled as you realize you are invited to enter and complete the circle.  It is the nature of the icon to be a window into heaven and to draw the beholder to come in.

I cannot tell you how many time over how many years I have pondered this glorious work.  I have struggled to interpret the signs it contains.  As you ponder, you might experience the same emotions that I have in response to the layers of meaning, the depth of Mystery captured there.  Pray for the Spirit to guide you.  Consider in silence.  You will feel the Spirit encouraging you.  The Risen One tells us: Do not be afraid.  I go before you.  Come.  Follow me.

It is the Father who sits at the left, the heavenly blue fabric, worn by all three, is nearly covered by his ethereal robe of indescribable color.  Who can see God?  And he points to the Son, robed in blue, but in earth tones, too.  Divinity and humanity come together in the Son.  And the sash over his shoulder is the symbol of all authority that the Father has given to the Son.  Eyes fixed on the Father, the Son points to the Spirit, the One the Son promised to send, the One who makes known all that Jesus taught to beings incapable of comprehending without the Spirit’s said.

Drink in the imagery that emerges in the backdrop.  That craggy rock above the Spirit might represent the steep climb entailed in being with Jesus on The Way..  Is it the hill Jesus climbed with the burden of our sins in the cross on his back?  Is it the hill that all who are invited to follow Jesus must climb, and once the summit is reached, to die there with Jesus?  

Above the Three is the Oak of Mamre that stood near where Abraham saw the three angelic creatures in the text that was Rublev’s inspiration for this icon.  The tree towers over the table of sacrifice.  The tree provides shade in the heat of the day.  We can pause there and ponder life’s decisions, the faith decisions necessary if we are to walk with the Lord.  

It is also the tree to which the Son was nailed that transformed the instrument of death and defeat into the tree of life, our reason to hope.  The crag leads to the tree that stands between it and the house above the Father.  In my Father’s house there are many mansions.  Dying with Jesus on the tree is the means of access to the heavenly dwelling.

If your experience is like mine, it will not be long before you come to realize that it is not enough to sit and gaze at this masterpiece, and to remain apart from it.  If we pray before it, we must yield to the invitation to complete the circle at the table and enter the relationship, the community that is there.  As we begin to comprehend, we might weep.  It is all too wonderful.

Why does my mind leap to God’s words in Genesis at the very dawn of creation?  Let us make the earthling in our own image.  God breathes life into the clay of the earth.  That Creature that results cannot live alone and in isolation.  The Creature, and all those who share in that creature’s nature, must live in communion that reflects and is part of the Community that is God.  That community is spousal.  That community is intimate friendship in one who is the other half of my soul.  That community is Church with a membership wide and diverse that is the Body of Christ and that shares the life that is the Trinity.

The table in the icon shimmers white, as do the haloes around the heads of the Three.  Beyond gold, white is divine.  For us, the Table is the primary symbol of Christ, of the sacrifice, and is the place where we are invited to gather and share the meal that is Christ’s Body and Blood.

The Triune God loves unconditionally all made in God’s image and likeness.  So all are welcome here.  Take and eat.  Take and drink.  And when we do, the whole Church is present as God reigns.

Forgive me if I have rambled.  There is much more that comes to mind as I ponder this holy image.  I know that I will continue to pray with it and wonder at its power and mystery.  The same can be your experience.  We may fear it.  But even as we tremble, a hand will reach out and empower us to enter.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Didymus

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