George Floyd, Tom Holland and the Trinity
In his highly (and deservedly) acclaimed book Dominion, Tom Holland constantly marvels at the extraordinary influence in the making of the Western history and mind of the obscure Galilean crucified by the Romans 2000 years ago who did not write anything and whom we know only through the testimonies of those who claimed to have been his disciples. Then like today, it would have been unadvisable to preach that someone who had been murdered might in some way save us or give meaning to our lives. This was unheard of, and for good reasons.
‘No one quite like him had ever before been portrayed in literature. The measure of this was that Christians, when they read the gospels, were able to believe that the man whose life they depicted, a man whom they described as weeping, sweating and bleeding, a man whose death they vividly and unsparingly related, had indeed been what Paul claimed him to be: the Son of God.’ (p.86)
These words express a great truth: like never before in history, thanks to our God, thanks to Jesus, now there is a power in weeping, bleeding and in being murdered at the hands of brutal and apparently invincible evil forces. The world is on fire right now because a defenceless black man was pinned down by white policemen and choked to death despite crying and pleading I cannot breathe for 16 times, over 9 long minutes.
Our connivance with racism is what created the conditions for George Floyd’s murder today. Our refusal to accept that God is not to be found in a temple of stone but in the life, words, sweat, tears and blood of a man is what caused the political and religious plot that led to Jesus’ murder then.
This might seem far from the mystery we celebrate today, the Trinity. And yet the only way of understanding the Trinity is perceiving the link between today’s celebration and the death of both Jesus and George Floyd.
The man murdered on the cross claimed not only to speak in God’s name, but to be God. He proclaimed that we are not just created by God but called to be God’s children – that God is our Father. He revealed that this is possible because God has a son who shares our life so that we too can enter into the life of God as his children. We were mortals who could remain alive only as long as they breathed the air of our planet. We have become immortal children of God because he sent us his own ‘breath’ (which we call the Spirit of God) so that now we can breathe God.
In a word, we know that there is a Trinity because we breathe God the Spirit and we call God Father thanks to God the Son who has become one of us, weeping, sweating and bleeding with us.
We know that there is a Trinity because we all share in the same divine breath – and the breath denied to anyone of our sisters and brothers is denied to each one of us.
Because there is a Trinity, as long as people are choked to death because of the colour of their skin and keep begging because they can’t breathe, we all choke, we all can’t breathe.
This explains the mystery that fascinates Tom Holland in his book: the extraordinary influence on the world history of the obscure Galilean named Jesus. He changed the world once for all by teaching us where we can find God.
God is in Jesus who bleeds on the cross.
God is in George Floyd who chokes on the tarmac.
God is in each one of our suffering brothers and sisters.
God is in the midst of our history and slowly, patiently, but unstoppably he is working in it so that we all become and behave like children of God, who breathe God and unite with each other in the Father’s embrace.