Re-evaluating Childhood Beliefs

by | Jun 15, 2022 | Formation, Reflections

I would be surprised if you haven’t re-evaluated some of your childhood beliefs.

For many of us, that reevaluation brought with it a major disappointment. “There is no Santa Claus!” I began to notice that Santa Claus had shoes just like Uncle Rudy… and, come think of it, his laugh sounded a lot like Uncle Rudy’s.

Many decades later, I have had to re-evaluate my thoughts about the mystery we call the Trinity.

Now, each Trinity Sunday, I am grateful to a great theologian of the last century who started me thinking. He wondered whether if the word Trinity was missing from the vocabulary of everyday Christians would anybodt notice. Just think of the last time you prayed to the Trinity.

Where I started from

I grew up with two thoughts of the Trinity.

The Trinity was a mystery that no one could explain except maybe by using the image of a three-leaf clover. I realize now that the focus was on a kind of theological math. How could there be three persons in one nature? I never thought about the “why” and what I could learn about myself from this mystery.

Our Father, despite being described as loving, often was presented a ruler who needed to be placated… Jesus came to change God’s mind. The Spirit was talked about mainly on Pentecost or when we received the sacrament of Confirmation.

Over-simplifications, yes! Yet, for all too many of us, that was it.

Now each Trinity Sunday, and often in between, I gratefully realize I have re-evaluated my childhood notions. It has been quite a process.

How I have re-evaluated my notion of Trinity

It has been a journey from

  • Seeing Trinity as a puzzle… to Trinity as a model for our lives.
  • Moving beyond an intellectual understanding…  to a mystery to be lived.
  • Emphasizing three distinct persons… to seeing ourselves as a community made in the image and likeness of the ultimate community we name as God.
  • Trying to merely imitate Christ … to the imitation of the eternal community calling us to see myself as living in community with my sisters and brothers. 
  • Imagining God as a noun … to realizing God is a verb.

We are called to be like the God who loves in community. We are to live as the image and likeness of that God.

The difference it makes

All this has profound impact on my understanding of the mission of the church as the People of God.

I now see

  • the church as fulfilling its mission when others can say with wonderment, “See how these Christians love one another, treasuring the unity of their distinctness
  • the eucharist, not as something focused on what the priest does but as the reminder that our God is a servant God. A God who came not to be served but to teach us how to serve even the least of us, even to the last drop of our blood.
  • our lives as living responses to Jesus’ words and action  Do you understand what I, your lord and master, have done? Do this in memory of me, wash one another’s feet.
  • the last judgment reminding us that whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do to me.

Then we will live out of the realization that we are made in the image and likeness of the divine community of the Trinity!

A Trinitarian Examination of conscience…

  • How conscious am I of being made in the image and likeness of the community we call God?
  • What is my greatest challenge in living out of that awareness?

Originally posted on Vincentian Mindwalk