The world has many Dominator Hierarchies … the Trinity is the true Actualisation Hierarchy promoting life & love
Sitting here in Kenya and absorbing the changing Patriarchal Culture [dominator hierarchy], and very much aware of the conflicts and dictatorships around Africa, Europe, South America & Asia, I’m feel very grateful for our Catholic Doctrine and teaching about the Holy Trinity.
Every year I wonder how to begin our reflection on the concept of the Holy Trinity. This year I asked myself, “what if we did not believe in a Holy Trinity?”
The short answer is this: we would be moving towards some other Religious faiths, where God is seen as a distant Creator of everything; an authoritarian Being who MUST be worshipped, and is separate from our sufferings.
- The problem with this is, first of all: although we agree there is only one God,
how do we grasp the full and deep meaning of God in our limited human language? Our language is limited by what we experience, and the LOGIC human beings need to get through each day: if God is one Person, how can God be here and there at the same time?
- How do we interpret God’s Mercy if God is far away?
How do we know that God really loves us when we are suffering? But, if God is close to us, how sure are we that God is also bigger than all our suffering? Will not God be in danger of being swallowed up by the suffering – as Jesus was?
- It’s difficult to develop the necessity of Community Life, if God is distant and demands we worship: it becomes God and I (Love God full stop), rather than God and us, as Jesus said: Love God and Love your Neighbour.The Father, Son and Holy Spirit Doctrine reflects that the very core of God is Community. This is what drives so much of our Catholic moral and social teachings: God wants to be in a mutual relationship with us where we are free.
Apologies if my understanding of Islam is not quite right, but it seems that in Islam you have no choice but to worship God. But God reveals in the Holy Trinity our freedom to choose to worship, and allows us to have periods of “rebellion”, without abandoning or destroying us.
Early Religious understanding considered God as for our people but not for other people. Whereas, the Holy Trinity opens our minds up to encompass all people: and is even the foundation of democracy.
The democratic concept of shared Leadership for all where we focus on listening, dialogue and accountability. Although, inside the Church hierarchy it still needs to improve!! Pope Francis is improving this through his consultative approach and desire for synodality.
When we talk about hierarchy we usually think about oppressive regimes misusing power: Dominator Hierarchies use force at the top, so people at bottom are a means to an end. However, it’s helpful to consider the actualization hierarchies which empower & give life: think of mum, dad and the children (credit: Ken Wilber).
Without healthy Actualisation Hierarchies in our lives and world, there would only be chaos: survival of the fittest and strongest. The whole of nature works on actualisation hierarchies. Monkeys make me smile because the dad (alpha male), as he grows weaker, ends up becoming subject to the son – isn’t that actualisation to the fullest? And sometimes we treat God that way!
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.
Baptising is not about creating an elite group of people, but draws us into real Community. The foundation of the Trinity is empowering (actualisation) UNITY. The alternative is conformity and oppression – just think of Communist Russia.
This is the model we are invited to become: it requires humility, forgiveness, sharing and welcoming others. We value each person equally, as each contributes something different.
The Holy Trinity is a Mystery: 3 persons = 1 God. I thank God for this Mystery which has allowed democracy, fraternity & 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 community around us.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI