Developing a synodal Church life will lead us more closely into the mystery of the Trinity … a community of equals


Developing a synodal Church life will lead us more closely into the mystery of the Trinity … a community of equals

Holy Trinity (8th Sunday) – May 26, 2024

At a recent youth sharing, we shared about family life connecting with the Holy Trinity.  And we can extend that to the nation as a family.  A challenge for all families and nations is to find leaders who are humble and desire to listen to and work with people.  ie. we need servants.

So, I was inspired by the work of Captain Ibrahim Traore, President of Burkina Faso: he has reduced the salaries of ministers & politicians by 30%; and increased worker salaries by 50%; refuses to accept a President’s salary, but maintains his military Captain’s salary.

What’s the link between his leadership and the Trinity?  Both are Actualisation Hierarchies. In recent times, people are tired of hierarchies and want everyone to be on the same level. And the reason we don’t like hierarchies is because, too often, they feel oppressive and controlling: perhaps we use the secular term: we are used to dominator hierarchies.

Now “individuals” are flexing their muscles and we are heading for a period of chaos.  However, to achieve peace, prosperity and happiness we need hierarchy in our family, our community and our nation.  Without hierarchy, there is chaos.  The question is, what type of hierarchy?  In the words of Christ, we need servant leadership: a hierarchy that serves.

In secular terms we call it an Actuator Hierarchy: this is a hierarchy that listens to, and involves, all people, helping them to recognise the importance of others in the “whole”.

A good example of an unhealthy actuator hierarchy is when a mother or father do everything for their children and do not allow them to participate: possibly to reduce accidents, breakage costs, etc.  But, often, it’s because “it’s easier to do it myself”.

In the Holy Trinity, we observe and designate the hierarchy of the Father, then the Son and then the Holy Spirit.  But at the same time, we declare that they are equal.

This is a good model for family life.  Each has a role, and each plays their part to create a happy and healthy family: where each member feels welcome and valued.

Here are a few key elements that we know about the Holy Trinity:

  1. the Father sent the Son: so family is not just for ourselves, but it also serves community;
  2. the Father blessed the Son: “this is my Son, the beloved…”: successful families have a culture of blessing each other with good words to praise, to appreciate and encourage.
  3. there is humility: Jesus said several times: “All that belongs to the Father is mine…
    In every successful family, members acknowledge what they have received from others, and each member is willing to share what they have with the others.
  4. there is obedience freely given by Jesus: “but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.
    Every successful family requires a degree of submission for the good of the others.

It was interesting to listen to the youth, during their sharing: talked about their family dynamics.  Even some admitted to mainly criticising their partner and rarely praising.  Supporting point 2 above, top marriage psychologists teach that spouses should have a balance of 5 positive words for each negative word they speak to each other.  Others said they not expressed love in words.

If God is not a Trinity of Persons (community), then our relationships will be the poorer, for we will focus too much on building dominator hierarchies instead of actuator hierarchies.

Pope Francis is struggling to bring meaningful reform to the Church hierarchy because when we have power, we tend to fall in love with it, and only see things from our point of view.

The evolution of our Church into a more synodal Church will more closely resemble the Holy Trinity, which is beautifully described and visualised in the artwork of Russian painter Andrei Rublev (also called The Hospitality of Abraham).  Each Person in the icon is looking at the other, indicating deference, interest, listening, etc.  One of the challenges a synodal Church calls us to do, is to take more responsibility for our faith, for sharing and listening to others.

The First Reading reveals the Dominator Hierarchy at work: reminding us how God saw the injustice of Egypt against the Jewish people.  So, God brought them out to the Promised Land.

The Gospel reveals the actuator hierarchy: Jesus is “leaving” the Apostles – giving space – to go out to Baptise in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit: baptising into community.

The Holy Trinity is a Mystery: 3 persons = 1 God.  Let’s thank God for this Mystery which has allowed democracy, fraternity and inclusion of all people to develop over the last 2000 years.

The more we respond to God’s invitation to enter into the Trinity, the more joy we will experience individually, which will transform the community around us.

By Gerard Conlan, OMI