by Joseph Nangle, OFM
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace
June 12, 2022 – This Sunday we celebrate the feast of the Most Holy Trinity, the self-revelation of the Holy Mystery we call God. We will hear and pray the traditional words that attempt to describe the indescribable: “Father, Son and Holy Spirit”; “Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier”; “Source of all Being, Eternal Word, Giver of Life.”
Alongside these well-known formulas, spiritual writers have continued to probe further into this Incomprehensible Mystery, for example:
- Creator, Liberator, Advocate
- Creative Power vis-à-vis our finiteness; Saving Love vis-à-vis our estrangement; Ecstatic Transformation in the face of the ambiguity of human existence.
- Source, Principle of Possibility and Order, Recreative Power.
These approximations of what Bernadette Farrell sings in her hymn “God, Beyond all Names” are worth our rapt attention on Trinity Sunday and always. They give us an ever-so-slight insight into the One who is ALL in ALL, the Beginning and End of Creation and human existence. Our Catholic theology and spirituality are tightly wrapped within belief in the Holy Trinity. We begin everything “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” We direct our prayers to the Divine “in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ who with you Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit are One God forever and ever.” We greet each other at the first moment of our Eucharistic celebrations “May the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.”
However, the question remains, how does this belief relate with real life as we live it today? Specifically for Pax Christi, does it connect in any way to our work for social justice and peace and the integrity of creation?
In her book, Quest for the Living God, theologian Elizabeth Johnson has a section where she calls the Trinity a “Most Practical Doctrine.” She makes the direct connection between what we know of God’s inner life and our efforts to continue building the Reign of God on earth. Since God is love and we are made in God’s image and likeness, we are called into a life of love and fellowship with others – building the Reign of God on earth.
Johnson goes on to say that the model, exemplar, vision for this dynamic was the principal message of God’s Word among us: “the Kingdom of God is like unto”… Jesus’ public life was filled with examples of what that ideal looks like: touching and healing a leper; absolving an adulteress; restoring sight to a blind person; liberating a paralytic – demonstrating the contours of the New Creation.
In recent history we have learned a new dimension of living as images of the Community of love and truth that is God and thereby helping build God’s dream for humanity. The Holy Spirit of God has expanded the notion of God’s Reign to embrace an increasingly interconnected world. Catholic Social Teaching, a “new grace of the Spirit,” directs our attention and challenges us to see the Reign of God in a global context. Simply put, our vocation now signifies both care for those who are oppressed and marginalized, and attention to the structures of the world which cause and maintain oppression and marginalization. It is about charity and justice. While never overlooking oppressed individuals, Catholic Social Teaching holds that the Gospel addresses social sin as well.
The efforts of Pax Christi and innumerable other movements dedicated to societal, institutionalized, structural justice, peace and the integrity of Creation are vivid examples of the loving Triune God accomplishing this through human instrumentality.
Sunday’s celebration of God’s very life is also our celebration. We are actors in fulfilling the dream of the adored Trinity and undivided unity. We are awed at this glimpse of the incomprehensible holy mystery that is God – and give thanks for that vocation.
Joe Nangle OFM is a Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace. As a member of the Assisi Community in Washington, D.C., he is dedicated to simple living and social change. Joe also serves as the Pastoral Associate for the Latino community at Our Lady Queen of Peace, Arlington, Virginia.