Thoughts on the First Readings – Joe Frankenfield
When most of us learn about the Holy Trinity, our response is, Okay; if you say so. Many of us don’t move much past that. Numberless statements of popes, bishops and theologians not withstanding, the mathematics and internal makeup of God simply don’t grab our imaginations. It’s not that we’re impious; the language of a Trinitarian God simply appears too abstract to benefit our faith. That same language presents greater possibility, however, if we shift the focus from what it says about God in himself to what it says about how God relates to us.
God plays three distinct, essential roles in our lives:
God gives us existence;
God removes our fears of death;
God offers us a fulfilling future.
When God offers us a deeper understanding of himself, it’s for our sakes, not to heighten his stature. The understanding we’ve developed of the Holy Trinity – and it’s not that great – isn’t meant to astonish us with God’s complexity or mysteriousness, it’s intended to point out how reliably God is committed to human life, how totally intertwined he is in every aspect of who we are and who we will become.
We can’t hope to imagine God who is totally different from any being we’ve ever encountered. The best statements we can make about God must begin God is kind of like . . . .
On the other hand, Jesus revealed everything we can and need to know about our Creator. God isn’t out there somewhere. God is intimately involved with our every breath and more committed to our welfare than we are. This is the point the language of Trinity tries to make.
Religious authoritarianism (an abuse of authority) makes it difficult to remember that a doctrine isn’t a test of our obedience or a medal of allegiance. It’s the best understanding of life and God that we’ve developed couched in the most adequate terms we know. Doctrines are not perfect. Nonetheless, we miss valuable aids to living if we refuse to pray over them and subject them to our best intelligence. Take the Trinity for example.