Monkeys and Metaphors

Reflection for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

When we think about the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, it is only somewhat helpful to think of St. Patrick’s example of the clover with its three lobes. And it is even less helpful to think of the Trinity in terms of a mathematical conundrum that needs to be solved (“How do three persons square with one God?).

What is more helpful is to think (but not over-think) of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in their relatedness to one another. Think of the flow between and among them. God is much more a verb than a noun looking for a definition. We flow, similarly, into one another’s lives.

Thinking of God as more of a verb than as a noun is not easy. We may first have to let go, in order to expand, our notions of God. Why? So that our limited ideas about God can give way to the True God, the revealed God. Our Catholic faith is a revealed faith. The truest revelation, of course, is Jesus Christ.

Here is a story about letting go. Monkeys, being so frenetic, are difficult to catch without harming them. Some people have devised a way. They empty out gourds, fill them with peanuts, and then patch up the gourds so only a small opening remains in each one. Then they attach the gourds to trees and leave the area. After a while, when the monkeys feel safe and all is quiet, they come down from the trees, stick their hands in the gourds and grab a handful of peanuts. However, once they do this, they cannot get their hands out of the gourds. To escape, all they need to do is let go of the peanuts. But they hold on, screaming with fear and frustration. Finally the trappers come back and catch them.

Monkeys may offer us clues to the first, the most necessary, and the most difficult step in our spiritual growth….that of letting go. Without letting go we remain, like the monkeys, trapped. Can we let go of our little kingdom, so that God’s great kingdom may come (…thy Kingdom come…)? Can we let go of trying to form others into what we would like them to be? Can we let go our way, so that Jesus who is the Way can redeem us? Can we see every little letting go as preparation of the big letting go, the letting go of our very own lives into the hands of God? Can we let go of our very notion of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, so that a deeper truth of God can be revealed?

Fr. Phil, St. Elizabeth of the Trinity Parish

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