Readings for May 27, 2018
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-040
When I took piano lessons as a kid, my teacher tried to teach me how to mimic playing a chord when my small hands could not quite span the length of the chord. The theory was to hit each key individually but in rapid succession, giving the acoustic illusion of a chord played in harmony. Owing largely to the fact that I rarely practiced, the notes I played did not achieve the anticipated harmony of three notes played as one. This was disappointing for both my teacher and my parents, and effectively killed any chance I had to play keyboards for Journey upon the retirement of Gregg Rolie. However, when God closes a door He opens a window. My piano ineptitude left open the opportunity for Jonathan Cain to join the band and pen the hit, “Don’t Stop Believing.” So to the world, which still seems to love that song, you’re welcome.
Spiritual rock star St. Ignatius of Loyola is said to have had a vision of the Trinity as three organ keys played together (“en figura de tres teclas”). At least part of the significance of the mystical organ keys was that the use of triad chords for sacred music had not yet been developed at the time of his vision. Ignatius was reportedly so emotionally overcome by the revelation that for the balance of the day he either wept or spoke incessantly about the Trinity in this musical form. Long before the 1971 hit by Three Dog Night, Ignatius discovered the Trinity as “just an old fashioned love song, coming down in three-part harmony.” There are, of course, headier descriptions and explanations of the Holy Trinity. But, to me, the lyrical beauty of three notes played together, individually unique to the trained ear, yet inextricably sounding as a single harmonic tone, is a glorious image of both the distinctiveness and the connectedness of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God—in three-part harmony!
Some bible scholars point to the use of plural personal pronouns yet singular predicate nouns in the first chapter of Genesis as pointing to the unity of creation within the Trinity. When God says of humankind, “Let US make them in OUR image, in OUR likeness” (v26), it can be read as evidence of the integration of the Trinity in the story of creation. The Trinity was also wholly present in the incarnation, with Mary finding favor with God, with the conception coming through the Holy Spirit, and with the Word becoming flesh as the Son. In the baptism of Jesus, the Trinity is manifest with the Holy Spirit descending upon the Son as a dove and God the Father expressing His approval. On the cross, Jesus cried out to God the Father and then “gave up his Spirit.” And finally, in today’s readings, Jesus exhorts his followers to continue his mission in the unified presence of the Trinity, “baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
Importantly, while there is a unique presence of three persons, there is just one God. As Moses tells the people, “you must now know, and fix in your heart, the Lord is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other.” It seems a fair question, then, to ask why we talk of God in three persons? Why not just call God, God? To start, there is significance in the relational aspect of the three-in-one makeup of our God. God is love. God as love encompasses the Creator of the universe in loving relationship with the Son through the eternal love that flows from the Spirit. Additionally, a multi-dimensional yet singular God embodies both diversity and unity, fully evident in the meticulously ordered creation of a magnificently diverse world He formed from a dark abyss. If, then, I have been created in God’s image and likeness, I also have been uniquely created by God yet only made whole in relationship with both God and man. I fulfill this by obeying Christ’s commission to “make disciples of all nations.”
There is sweet music in this holy harmony! Through the Spirit, I have been made a “joint heir with Christ” as God’s adopted son, driving out all fear so that I may be glorified with Christ. Indeed, has “anything so great ever happen before? Was it ever heard of?” From creation, then, through the Great Commission, the symphony of the Holy Trinity serves as my soundtrack. God rocks!
Most Holy Trinity, One God in three persons, I praise You and give You thanks. Rock my world that I may, in all things, serve You in glory. This I pray through Your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You, in unity with the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen