Monday, May 24, 2010

Rublev's Trinity - Part 7 'Divine Homily'

We conclude our look into Rublev’s famous Icon, The Trinity. To sum up Rublev’s work one might use the word ὁμιλία, homilia. Homilia is the Greek work which means to have communion or hold intercourse with a person or persons. Paul uses the word this way in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “evil communications [homilia] corrupt good manners” (KJV). The Divine Homily, the conversation within the Godhead, is communicated to us through Rublev’s work.

Many commentators have drawn the inference from Rublev’s Icon that what is being discussed here is the Divine mission of God to redeem mankind. In the words of Father Gabriel Bunge, OSB, Rublev’s Icon is, “a wordless conversation between Father, Son and Holy Spirit... the eternal decision of the Father to send the Son with the Help of the Spirit for the redemption of mankind... Rublev’s Troitsa, the theological context of which is Pentecost, can be “read” as a depiction in colour and shape of the Johannine account of Jesus’ Farewell Discourse, which is completely shot through with the mystery, now being revealed, of the Triune God... The intra-Trinitarian conversation proceeds from the Son; with entreaty he looks at the Father, while his right hand points to the chalice of his passion and beyond that to the Spirit. This look and gesture intimate the request of sending the Helper which only becomes possible through the self-sacrifice of the Son. The Father, who always hears the Son (Jn. 11.42), fulfils this request. His gaze is directed to the Holy Spirit, who is enthroned with him behind the altar table, and his right hand bestows on him the blessing for the completion of the saving work of the Son... this original-copy relationship finds mystical reality, a gracious foretaste of this future glory, here on earth in that conversation (homilia) of the spirit with God, transcending any representation, whether in image or concept, that the masters of the spiritual life call prayer. It finds its fullness and perfection only in that ineffable communion with God, a communion at once typified (typos) and created by the Holy Trinity thanks to its own, uncreated, three in one being (Jn. 17.21).

The Triune God, meeting our deepest need, redemption, the forgiveness of sin. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image (εἰκών, icon) of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers (Rom 8:29). Man, re-created, can be a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit, a temple for the undivided Trinity. The hospitality of Abraham was used by Andrei Rublev as the backdrop for this Divine Homily, yet Rublev chose to remove Abraham and Sarah from the famous scene. In doing so they are replaced by all who are in Christ, among whom the Trinity have set up their tent and invited us to their table to commune with them. As the Son has taught us, “Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad." (John 8:56)

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