Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Most Holy Trinity

(Trinity Sunday, A)

Each year the Church gives this special Sunday as a chance to reflect on and rejoice in the Most Holy Trinity. But when it comes to the Trinity and our faith in the God who is One in Three, we often give up too fast in our reflection. As the old mnemonic for theology students goes, in the Trinity there are “five notions, four relations, three persons, two processions, one nature, and zero understanding.”

But if all we say is that the Trinity is a mystery and we throw our hands up and say there’s no understanding it, we make a mistake. True, we will never be able to fully understand who God is, and how one God can be the Lover, the Beloved, and the Love they share all in one. But we can get some sense of what it means to say that God is a Trinity. Why? Because God created the world, and the imprint of God is on the world. This is especially true of us ourselves, who are created in the “image and likeness” of God.

Think about it. If God is a Trinity, and we are created in the image and likeness of God, then we ourselves should bear some imprint of the Trinity in ourselves. Thus one of the classical approaches to understanding the Trinity is to look at the human person as made in the image of the Trinity. Here’s my favorite way to approach it:

Let’s think about ourselves when we’re at our very best as human beings—when we fall in love. And when two people are falling in love there comes that moment when it’s time to say it for the first time, to pronounce the words, “I love you.” When this happens, and we know it to be true, all of the love and passion that’s hidden in the heart gets breathed out and formed into those little words. At that moment the ‘I love you’ contains all of the feeling of the heart.

This is one way in which we imitate the Most Holy Trinity and show forth in ourselves how we are created in his image. The passion of love in the heart is like God the Father. The words ‘I love you’ that are breathed forth are like the Eternal Word, God the Son. The breath that carries the word is like the Holy Spirit

From all eternity the Love Who is the Source of all overflows and pronounces an Eternal Word, the divine ‘I love you’ that we call the Son. The breath that carries this Word we call the Spirit.

And as we hear in the Gospel of John today, this same breath of God, the Holy Spirit, in the fullness of time, pronounces God’s ‘I love you’ in our world and the Son is born as one of us. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” That’s who Jesus Christ is: the ‘I love you’ of God the Father to the world, pronounced in such perfection that the Word itself is just as much God as the Speaker.

The Trinity reveals to us that God is at heart a self-expression. In fact, God is a perfect self-expression of love. Therefore, let us strive to be those who express and incarnate the love of God in the world. Let us rejoice in our call to breathe forth the love that God has put in our hearts and make it real in our world. By doing so we are fulfilling our truest identity as human beings—those who imitate the Most Holy Trinity with their lives.

No comments: