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The Body of Christ

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Trinity: Week 2

The Body of Christ
Thursday, March 9, 2017

A Trinitarian person in formation is someone being freed of narcissism’s chains. A partner in the divine dance is someone who agrees to stand in the mutual relationship that God is—the relationship that God has already and gratuitously drawn us into.

As Lay Cistercian and teacher Carl McColman puts it:

God is in us, because we are in Christ. As members of the mystical body, Christians actually partake in the divine nature of the Trinity. We do not merely watch the dance, we dance the dance. We join hands with Christ and the Spirit flows through us and between us and our feet move always in the loving embrace of the Father. In that we are members of the mystical body of Christ, we see the joyful love of the Father through the eyes of the Son. And with every breath, we breathe the Holy Spirit. [1]

The Trinity is a participative mystery and all creation is invited to participate! But hand-taking, embracing, and breathing-with aren’t often immediately attractive to us. Vulnerability, letting go, total disclosure, and surrender don’t come easily. Our culture is built on a movement toward empire and aggrandizement of the group. This creates the interior conflict that Scripture describes as the conflict between the world and the Spirit.

Please understand that in the New Testament the oft-used word world doesn’t refer to creation. The best interpretation would be the “system.” This system is the way we structure reality, and it’s almost always going to be diametrically opposed to the mystery of the Trinity. You can see why the most Jesus hoped for—and why you can’t understand Jesus without the Trinity—is that his group might become a “little flock” (see Luke 12:32), “leaven” or “yeast” (see Matthew 13:33). The Gospels call it “the Twelve” (see Mark 9:35), a critical mass. Jesus seems to have the patience and humility to trust a slow leavening process. This is quite different from any notion of empire or “Christendom” which relies upon the use of dominating power.

There’s no evidence Jesus ever expected his little movement to take over the world—that is, the “system”—but instead that there’d be just enough people living into this kind of mutuality to be the leaven in the dough keeping this entire creation from total delusion and self-destruction. Please don’t jump to the conclusion, though, that God doesn’t love (and indeed like) all those who are “in and of” the system. They just suffer and severely limit themselves by divided loyalties.

Gateway to Silence:
In the love of God, the peace of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit

[1] Carl McColman, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism: The Essential Guide to Contemplative Spirituality (Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Publishing Company, 2010), 165-166. Emphasis is in the original.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016), 64-65.

Image credit: Three Russian Dancers (detail), Edgar Degas, 1895, National Museum, Stockholm Sweden.
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