What Does the Trinity Have to Do With Pride?

Today’s liturgical readings can be found by clicking here.

It’s Trinity Sunday, but don’t expect an explanation of this mystery from the likes of me.  That is way above my pay grade.  And because it is a mystery, it is above everybody’s pay grade. I’ve even often wondered why idea of a triune God even matters.  It seemed to have no practical effect on my faith or spiritual life.

“Trinity” by Sue Newham

This year, however, I had a little better insight to the Trinity by reading Quest for the Living God by Sister Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, Distinguished Professor Emerita at Fordham University.  The book is an accessible and practical survey of how various theological schools of the 20th century have imagined who God is.  The final chapter is called “Trinity: The Living God of Love.”  In this chapter, Johnson offers the most down-to-earth explanation of the Trinity I’ve ever encountered.

And I selected those words “down-to-earth” specifically.  Most of the language that I’ve ever heard about the Trinity is always abstract, philosophical, other-worldly.  Johnson, however, critiques those kind of images and ideas in favor of  describing the importance of the Trinity image because of its engagement with the world, not its separateness from it.  The point of trinitarian discussions is not to describe a model of God, like we would draw a model of an atom in a chemistry class, but to describe how much and how powerfully God wants and acts to save us. Johnson writes:

“Whether found in scripture, creed, liturgy, doctrine, or theology, [trinitarian language] is Christian code tapping out the belief that the living God made known through Jesus and the Spirit is dynamic love encompassing the universe who acts to save.”

For Johnson, the idea of the Trinity becomes “shorthand” for the different ways a people experiences God: “beyond them, with them, and within them.”  In other words, “as utterly transcendent, as present historically in the person of Jesus, and as present as the Spirit within their community.” She cites theologian Catherine LaCugna who promotes the idea that for God “to be” means “to be in relation.”  Johnson’s comment on this idea is that “analysis on the inner life of the Trinity apart from saving concern for the world is a distraction.”

What implications do these ideas have for the church and its relationship to the LGBTQ community?  Johnson rounds out her study of the Trinity by calling on the church to mirror the salvific dimension of the triune model, as well as its radical equality:

“Called to be a sacrament of the world’s salvation, the church is to be a living symbol of divine communion turned toward the world in inclusive and compassionate love. Only a community of equal persons related in profound mutuality, pouring out praise of God and care for the world in need, only such a church corresponds to the triune God it purports to serve.”

I also think it is fortuitous that in this year (and in most years, too), Trinity Sunday falls during Pride Month.  Today’s second reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans offers a wonderful passage for meditation.

“. . . we even boast of our afflictions,
knowing that affliction produces endurance,
and endurance, proven character,
and proven character, hope,
and hope does not disappoint,
because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

The last two lines hint at the salvific dimension of a Triune God which Johnson describes.  But those first five lines offer an amazing description of the movement for LGBTQ equality.  During Pride Month, we remember afflictions from the past, but we know that what those afflictions produced was not disaster, but endurance.  And endurance has helped to build character, which has helped to expand what was initially a “lesbian and gay” movement into a movement that promotes equality for all sexual orientations and gender identities.  And this growth as a movement has provided hope.

If hope for equality is rooted in the salvific action of a triune God, who is beyond us, with us, within us,  it will certainly not disappoint.

To me, that’s an even better idea to celebrate than Pride!

Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, June 12, 2022

3 replies
  1. Robin Hawley Gorsline
    Robin Hawley Gorsline says:

    Thank you, Frank……very wise. I too appreciate the real-world interpretation of the Trinity that Johnson shares. This is not theory, this is divine reality.

    Reply
  2. J. Tevington
    J. Tevington says:

    “44. What is the central mystery of Christian faith and life?….
    “The central mystery of Christian faith and life is the mystery of the Most Blessed Trinity. Christians are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

    (Though often overlooked, the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a readable and wonderful resource.
    https://www.vatican.va/archive/compendium_ccc/documents/archive_2005_compendium-ccc_en.html)

    Reply

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