Deut 4: 32-34, 39-40; Romans 8: 14-17
One of the most profound interpretations of the feast we celebrate today is Rublev’s Trinity. It’s a 15th Century Russian icon that is probably one of the most known. At face value it actually is a story that we don’t hear today but did at some point this past year, of three visitors, or angels, that visit Abraham and Sarah who are about to turn their lives upside down when they are told they will give birth to Isaac. Rublev has these three images that all look alike and yet dressed differently sitting around a table or altar. Now I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but there is a similar scene in the movie version of The Shack when the father is at wits end and finds himself gathered at the table with the three persons of God. It is believed that that was Rublev’s intention that the fourth one to gather at table was you and me, humanity. The more you find yourself invited at table the more you participate in this force of love, union, and oneness, and you become that mystery.
One such person that certainly exemplifies that is Moses who we hear from in the first reading from Deuteronomy. Moses often found himself being drawn back to that table to gaze into the eyes of God that he becomes one of the great figures of salvation history. He’s well aware that others are not in the same place as him on this journey, as they still wander seeking their own gods, but he’s there to remind them of what he has experienced in that participation with mystery and how it is transforming his own life. He recalls for Israel today their own history as a people and the many times they have not only wandered, but how the true God of mystery, unfolding within and among them, has seen them through some of their most difficult challenges as a people. He takes them back to the beginning reminding them of their own creation as a people and they have been created in that image and likeness of God. Now Moses doesn’t keep returning to the mountain to convince God that God is someone else or give to give God pointers on what needs to be done and what the people want, rather he returns to that place to soak in that mystery and allow it to consume his life to his deepest core, a core that is that image and likeness. Like Israel, where we fail and find ourselves wandering is when we want to create God in our own image and likeness rather than allowing ourselves to be transformed by the unfolding mystery. It’s the mastery of Rublev’s icon because you can’t take your eyes off of it as you gaze at it’s beauty and mystery, drawing you more and more into the mystery of God and the mystery of our own lives. Without mystery, life becomes dull as do our relationships.
It is, as well, the pinnacle to Paul’s message to the Romans in today’s second reading on becoming the adopted children of God. Paul is fully aware that people wander. He himself has wandered in his own life, seeking that sense of meaning from something beyond the divine indwelling. His view for the Romans comes from the masters who have had their own experience and literally adopt one of their slaves as their own. This experience at table with mystery has a way of breaking down the many barriers that we create for ourselves, separating ourselves, one from another, as was true in a master-slave model. Paul, though, like Moses, continues to take them back to the beginning and remind them of who they have always been as children of God, born in that image and likeness. Like Moses, the more he gazes and the more we gather at table with that mystery that unfolds and in its almost seductive manner, transforms without us evening knowing and grow into that image and likeness. We become living icons, where we’re not God, but our lives simply point to the mystery that has drawn us in and have fallen in love with while participating in that love and that mystery.
As we celebrate this great feast, we gather in the name of that one God who invites us to Rublev’s table and to participate in their radical hospitality of drawing us into love, mystery, and union. We will never completely understand any of this and shouldn’t think we can. We will never completely know it because it is beyond knowledge as we know it. Rather, it is a knowing that lies deep within, where heart speaks to heart, often being dragged in like the guy in The Shack, finally moving to a place of surrender. It takes utter faith and trust on our part, a dark night as it’s known, to trust in such a way. When we allow ourselves to be used that way, by mystery and love, we become transformed in such a way that we are the living icons for a world that has enough of its own gods, we simply point to the one true God. This is a God that keeps expanding our hearts and that very table for it is only in love that we have space for all, no matter, color, where we’re from, background, lifestyle, the many who have wandered far from “home”. The mastery of Rublev’s Trinity is that there is space for everyone, knowing like Abraham and Sarah, when we finally surrender to mystery, our lives may be turned upside down, but better that than anything else. We pray for the grace to become these living icons in the world today, where all we do and say points to love, to mystery, to union and oneness, to the one true God who continues to unfold that very mystery in the world today.