Love and the Holy Trinity

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. Deut 4:32-34,39-40; Ps 33:4-5,6,9,18-19,20,22,6-9; Rom 8:14-17; Mt 28:16-20  

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, a day on which we focus on the revelation that God, the One God, is a community of Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This revelation of the three Persons of God is prefigured in the Old Testament, such as in today's First Reading. Here Moses tells the people that they have been uniquely blessed to “hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of fire."  In this short sentence, the revelation of all the three Persons of God is foreshadowed: this sentence refers implicitly to 'God', who is God the Father, the 'Voice', who is the Word of God or God the Son, and the 'Fire', who is God the Holy Spirit. In the New Testament, God the Son, who is Jesus Christ, reveals the three Persons of the Trinity explicitly. Hence the conclusion of the Gospel of St Matthew contains these final words of Jesus to his disciples, “Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” the same Trinitarian formula which introduces every Mass.

So the centrality of the Trinity to the Christian faith is clear, but how exactly is the Trinity relevant to our lives? Even if we acknowledge that God is a community of Persons, what does this revelation mean for our lives? One brief response is to say that Scripture reveals that our happiness is intimately linked to the Trinity. In the Old Testament, Moses reveals that knowing God and following God's commandments is intrinsic to possession of the Promised Land, which is the symbol of heaven in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, the grace of Baptism, in the name of the Trinity, is essential for us to enter heaven and to enjoy everlasting life. But how, exactly, is knowing the Trinity so intimately linked with our happiness? One response is to say that the Trinity teaches us that love is 'hardwired' into God: that God is love. When Jesus says, for example, that, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love,” (John 15:9) he is inviting us to participate in the love of the Son for the Father, abiding in the Love that is the Holy Spirit. Since we human beings seek love, the revelation of the Trinity shows us we shall find supreme love, a happiness beyond anything we would naturally seek for ourselves, in union with the Most Holy Trinity. Furthermore, just as the divine Persons of the Trinity are distinct yet united, in the love of the Trinity we shall never be absorbed and obliterated by God, but we shall also never be lonely and isolated from God. A similar pattern of diversity and union is reflected in all Christian institutions that are the fruits of the Trinity, especially the Church and the sacrament of marriage. Conversely, religions that accept that there is one god or divine principle but reject the Trinity often focus on the power of God, tending to downplay or lacking the notion of the love of God (cf. G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, chapter VIII).

So the love of the Trinity fulfils the human desire for a love that is a union with another person without a loss of one's identity, founded on a belief in one God that is fruitful and not destructive. If we are to be the loving children of the Trinity, and not the cruel children of a lonely God, we need to follow Christ, led by the Spirit, into the heart of God's love. But I must conclude, however, with a word of warning. To love as God loves is beyond anything we are naturally capable of attaining. God will, however, form us to love Him if we allow Him to do so, a formation which is the entire purpose of our lives here on earth. But this formation frequently involves suffering, rather like 'growing pains'. As St Paul tells us in the Second Reading, we are “heirs with God, if only we suffer with him, so that we may also be glorified with Him.” May fear of what we may encounter never, therefore, hold us back from following Christ. May we one day be united with the Most Holy Trinity in the glory of the saints.

Father Andrew Pinsent, St. Ambrose Church, St. Louis, 7th June 2009

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