TUESDAYS WITH TERESA: Trinity disguised as fidget spinner!

The challenge for me this week is that I am writing this message one week early.

Allen and I are on the Gold Coast for the long weekend, as our eldest daughter, Nicole, is celebrating her 40th birthday. Like many of you who have had children, the sense is that those years have passed by rapidly, and yet I can still feel the delight of holding her in my arms immediately after her birth. Allen and I gazed on her with such awe; our love had created this new and precious life, and of course she was just so beautiful.

As I write these words of a love that brings forth life, it is not hard to imagine our God as Trinity. We believe our God to be a relational God, a God who relates to us personally and without expectation. We are not meant to be able to explain this deep mystery, just as I am unable to explain to you the deep love that Allen and I feel for each other and each of our children and now our grandchildren. It is not logical or rational or reasonable, it is beyond words, and it just is. I recall not being able to sleep on the night after giving birth to her, because the whole day was just so overwhelmingly amazing. Imagine how God feels about God’s own creation! – of humans, of the environment, of the complexity of the ecosystems that make up that creation, of the immensity of the universe, of the capacity of humans to think, reason, imagine, and create. This is Mystery.

Evidently, on Sunday 14 May, Pope Francis surprised the congregation during his homily by taking out of his pocket a fidget spinner to demonstrate the Trinity. He explained that just as St Patrick used the three-leaf clover to teach his followers about the Triune nature of God, then the Tri Fidget Spinner has the capacity to reveal the mysteries of our God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As the spinner spins faster, the three arms seem to become a single disc, yet maintain their individuality. It is one, yet three. While preaching his homily, he manoeuvred the fidget spinner, demonstrating a few tricks that he was learning. He certainly is a person who knows how to connect with the times. During his homily, Pope Francis explained that just as an improperly balanced spinner won’t work very well, our faith will falter, if our view of God is likewise improperly balanced.

There was a fidget spinner at last week’s Family Faith Forum. I got my hands on it and enjoyed just making it spin, because once it began to spin it continued to spin, without slowing, unless I put if off balance. I found this to be scientifically amazing. It is also nice to think of it as a stress-relief device. Imagine, if people realised that our Trinitarian God is equally a stress-relief person who is an essential part to living a balanced and healthy life. All you need to do is to pick it up and play with it; that is God.

About sixty people came along to the Interfaith Dialogue sessions we are having this year. Fr Paul Berezniuk, from the Ukrainian Catholic Church, talked about the differences between the Christian churches of the East and West. One aspect which fits into the Trinitarian nature of our belief in God is the way in which the Ukrainian people bless themselves, and the symbolism of this blessing. As they pray the blessing, they hold the thumb, index finger and long finger together for the blessing, symbolising the Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit. The other two fingers are symbolic of God’s nature, human and divine, while the hand is symbolic of God being one. As Father Paul indicated, the sign of the cross is a theology lesson in itself.

Over the past few weeks, I have been reflecting upon restorative justice, reconciliation, peace, forgiveness, mercy, compassion, tenderness and gratitude. You may recall that about one month ago, I attended the Catholic Mission Conference. While at that conference, a wonderful group of musicians from Ashfield Parish assisted us with prayer and worship. At our breakfast session with Bishop Vincent Long, the following hymn was sung with an Irish lilt by a young woman. Not only did the tune capture my senses but the words spoke powerfully to me of our present situation, of being a church and a world which has lost balance. You may like to explore the tune on YouTube to encounter its full effect. 

Inspired by Love and Anger
John Bell

Inspired by love and anger, disturbed by need and pain,
Informed of God’s own bias, we ask him once again:
“How long must some folk suffer? How long can few folk mind?
How long dare vain self-interest turn prayer and pity blind?”

From those forever victims of heartless human greed,
Their cruel plight composes a litany of need:
“Where are the fruits of justice? Where are the signs of peace?
When is the day when prisoners and dreams find their release?”

From those forever shackled to what their wealth can buy,
The fear of lost advantage provokes the bitter cry,
“Don’t query our position! Don’t criticise our wealth!
Don’t mention those exploited by politics and stealth!”

To God, who through the prophets proclaimed a different age,
We offer earth’s indifference, its agony and rage:
“When will the wronged be righted? When will the kingdom come?
When will the world be generous to all instead of some?”

God asks, “Who will go for me? Who will extend my reach?
And who, when few will listen, will prophesy and preach?
And who, when few bid welcome, will offer all they know?
And who, when few dare follow, will walk the road I show?”

Amused in someone’s kitchen, asleep in someone’s boat,
Attuned to what the ancients exposed, proclaimed and wrote,
A Saviour without safety, a tradesman without tools
Has come to tip the balance with fishermen and fools.

I wonder how we are not challenged to live differently by what we see, hear and experience. We need grace, upon grace, upon grace…. So that we may change, so that our systems can change, so that our church may change. The power structures that served the past are no longer adequate or relevant to this emerging new era.

The reading from the second letter of St Paul to the Corinthians (13:11-13) seems to be a good way to end this week’s message:

Brothers and Sisters, we wish you happiness; try to grow perfect; help one another. Be united; live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.
Greet one another with the holy kiss. All the saints send you greetings.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Teresa Brierley Image
Teresa Brierley

Teresa Brierley is the Vice Chancellor Pastoral Ministries of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

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