|Icon of the Holy Trinity by Andrei Rublev|
Many voices in our time proclaim the opposite. “Be a self-made man or woman!” “Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps!” “It is you against the world.” “Fear the other and set up walls to protect and keep out!” This thought has even found its way into the sphere of Christianity in the emphasizing of a “Jesus and I” approach to faith. Church and community is nice but it is not really all that necessary. Now it seems that even the acknowledgement afforded by history to the unique status and communion of marriage and family is being discarded as dynamics in contemporary society seek to reshape family more in terms of what “I want” and “my right” rather than in the life-giving reality of self-gift as laid out in the basic biological blueprint of creation itself. All this leads to an increasingly isolated existence which plays to the benefit of an economy of consumption.
My personal theory is that we are now living in a time when it is the economy with all the pressures at its disposal attempting to shape us in its image rather than us shaping the economy in our image. To wit – an isolated, self-focused individual trained to view reality through the prism of “I want” is potentially a much better consumer than one who is connected with other people in life-giving ways that are beyond the power of the market-place (i.e. family and individuals living authentic and honest relationships).
The economy of consumption wants an upgrade to family and existence in general. A “2.0 family” as it were. Family defined by self-gift and sacrifice is no longer good enough. Family defined by want and individuals who are increasingly isolated is now what is needed to keep the economy humming!
In the Holy Trinity we are shown a different economy – not an economy of consumption but an economy of self-gift and we find it revealed that this economy is not only at the foundation of all creation but is the source, itself, of all creation and life.
Jesus said to his disciples: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” (Jn. 16:12-15)
Notice how the three Persons of the Trinity freely receive from one another and freely give to one another. Notice how this gift of self does not diminish each of the Divine Persons in uniqueness but actually fulfills each of the Persons. The Father is not lessened by the Son receiving all the Father has to offer nor are the Father and Son diminished by the Spirit taking what they offer one another and declaring it to us. Self-gift does not need to be feared because it leads to the fulfillment of personhood and life and not to a loss of self!
St Paul in his Letter to Romans reflects on what this all means to us who have been caught up into this very mystery of God’s own existence by God’s sheer gift of grace. Brothers and sisters: Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith to this grace in which we stand and we boast in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, know 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. (Rom. 5:1-5)
As Christians, we strive for the truth of being, even when we fail individually and communally we still strive by God’s grace. The economy of consumption is not our economy. We are meant for so much more! Peace … Endurance … Proven Character … Hope … Love of God.