Difference in Unity

One of the things I grabbed as I was on the way out of the door to St. Benedict’s last week was a pile of magazine clippings and other articles I had kept. I thought it would be a good thing to sort through when I needed a break from my writing. Sometimes when I go through such piles my reaction is on the order of “Now why did I think that was worth keeping?” Other times I remember what it was that struck me.

One of the things in that pile was an old column from an issue of America on the subject of how to raise children to be Catholic and catholic. The reason I had kept the piece, however, had nothing to do with childraising. Rather, what struck me was what I thought (and think) is a wonderfully simple yet meaningful way to understand what is a difficult concept for Christians – the Trinity. (It is easy to say “three persons in one God,” but understanding what that means is a different matter.) It seems a perfect thing to share on this Sunday, on which we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.

Explaining what it means to view the world through a Trinitarian lens the author of the column wrote:

The divine dance of paradoxical difference-in-unity enables us to recognize creation as a reflection of its loving Creator: infinitely diverse and yet intimately connected, each part belonging to all and responsible to all.

Infinitely diverse and yet intimately connected. Despite the differences, each part belongs to all and is responsible for all.

The key is recognizing that the description is not just of God, but of us – we who are made in the image and likeness of (a Trinitarian) God. That means a lot of things, including, the need to “transcend[] the black-and-white thinking and loveless, angry, insider/outsider tribalism that so characterizes American public ‘discourse,’ whether secular or religious.”

We are diverse, but we are also part of one single whole and responsible for all.


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