Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J.
The revelation of the Trinity is one of the greatest proofs of God’s love for us. We do not reveal ourselves to those we do not love. And we reveal ourselves in proportion to our love. In revealing the Trinity God revealed his very nature, his most intimate life.
And he did this gradually and progressively according to our capacity and need. The Old Testament is explicitly monotheistic. “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.” (Deut. 6:4) The New Testament is monotheistic but it is also explicitly Trinitarian. All three persons of the Trinity are found in five of the key scenes in the Gospel: the Annunciation, the Baptism of Jesus, the Last Supper, Calvary, and the Ascension.
Thus began the revelation that unaided reason would never have perceived, that the most High God is not only one, as Israel had passionately believed, but also Triune: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The doctrine of the Trinity was refined and solemnly defined in the first four Councils of the Church and has been professed in the Creed and at Mass for centuries.
The Trinity is the origin of our lives. It is true that creation is attributed to the Father, redemption to the Son and sanctification to the Holy Spirit. But the fact and truth of the matter is that the Trinity was the efficient cause of all extra activities. The Trinity is also the origin of Christianity. Without the Trinity we cannot understand Christianity. What would Christmas, Easter and Pentecost mean if there was no Trinity? The Mass begins and ends with the sign of the cross, the profession of faith in the Trinity. All of the prayers of the Mass are offered to the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit.
The Trinity is the model for our lives. We are made in the “image of God,” in the image of the Trinity. By contemplating the Trinity we can learn a lot about ourselves and about the way we should live. The Trinity is a COMMUNITY OF PERSONS. There are no isolated, self-sufficient, rugged individuals. There are three equal Persons living together in community. Each Person needs the other two Persons to be God.
We need each other to be truly human. We are social beings. We are mutually interdependent. This is evident in the beginning of life and at the end of life. The newborn infant left to itself dies and the very old person left to himself dies. And in between the entrance and the exit we are still dependent one on another. It is through these relationships that we identify ourselves and become the person God has given us the potential to become.
This community of persons is a COMMUNITY OF LOVE. The essence of the Trinity is a personal relationship of love between the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Love should also be characteristic of the Christian community. We are rooted and grounded in love. We all have a need to love and be loved. Love is creative, fulfilling and healing. It heals both the one who gives it and the one who receives it.
In the Trinity there is not uniformity but UNITY in DIVERSITY. Each Person is unique and all share in the divine nature in perfect unity. Each one of us is unique but we share a common origin, common nature and a common destiny. The Christian community begins with the acceptance of this unity in diversity. It is this diversity that gives glory to God.
Unfortunately for us, diversity is a source of fear, suspicion and hatred. How devastating to the community is the unreasonable demand for uniformity. What a dull, boring world it would be if everyone were alike. The word catholic means unity in diversity. The Christian community is the people of God, the family of God, as we pray in the “Our Father.” In necessary things we have unity, in doubtful things we have liberty, but in all things we have charity. How foolish it is to demand uniformity in faith when there is no uniformity anywhere in creation or in the Creator.
The Trinity is the destiny of our lives. It gives us something to look forward to. The next life will not be like the summer re-runs of TV. It will not be just a repeat of the “rat race.” “Eye has not seen nor ear heard what God has prepared for those who love him.” Just as in this life the consummation of love is in union, so too in the next life the consummation of love will be in union, not with a creature but with the Creator. You can let your imagination run wild and you will never come close to the reality.
“God is love.” (1 John 4:16) Love is my origin, my mission and my destiny. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you live, what is your state in life, what is your job, what is the multitude or magnitude of the deeds you do - what matters, and without which nothing else matters, is that you love. Love is the divine alchemy that transforms the most insignificant task into spiritual gold. (1 Cor.13: 1-3)
Love is the criterion of Jesus, “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13: 35) “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you so you also should love one another.” (John 13: 34) Love is the irrefutable, instantly verifiable sign of Christian identity. This is how the first Christians were identified, “See how they love one another.” (Tertullian, Apology, 39.6)
to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
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