Sunday, May 22, 2005

What the Trinity means for us

As the Church celebrates today the Trinity, it is fitting to share a reflection on this Mystery of mysteries: There are many images used to illustrate the meaning of the Trinity. Perhaps the most famous is St. Patrick's 3-leaf clover. And then there's the image of the Triangle. But there is one image that has remained in my mind because it shows what the mystery of the Trinity means for us: it shows the invitation to enter more fully into the life of God as Father, Son, and Spirit.

Think of a parent, a mother who showers her infant child with all the love and affection she can give her, doting over her baby, gazing upon her child with love. If her baby shows just a slight hint of discomfort, right away she would try to make her comfortable: putting a blanket over her if her baby were cold or giving her a bottle if her baby were hungry. She would smile at her baby, even talk to her--making those little funny baby sounds. All the while, the mother waits for some sort of sign, some sort of recognition, perhaps a smile from her baby. And what joy the mother feels when finally her child smiles back at her for the first time. And the bond between mother and child is such a powerful and real thing that it seals and binds both mother and child together in love.

God the Father has showered and continues to shower our Lord Jesus Christ with infinite love by giving him the whole of Creation. And Christ, in perfect freedom, without being forced by the Father in any way, responds in love. Between the Father and the Son there is mutual self-giving, love, and affection. And this love between them is so powerful and majestic that it is Himself a person, the Holy Spirit. In the Trinity there is perfect, free, and mutual love and giving.

The Father, through Jesus Christ, in the Spirit gazes upon us and showers us with blessings and gifts, and wins for us salvation. And without forcing us, God waits from us his children our response, our reply--just as a parent waits for a smile from her infant.

Therefore the meaning of the Trinity for us is this in part: just as the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, are in this exchange of mutual giving and love, we too are invited to be caught up into this Trinitarian exchange, to be part of this movement, this perichoresis, this dance of love and life. The meaning of the Trinity for us in other words is life eternal: our divinization!

And a verse from the Gospel today nicely points to this: "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life" (John 3:16).

Finally we have this beautiful verse from the evangelist more explicitly pointing to our deification, our sharing in Christ's own divinity: "Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world" (John 17:24).

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