The Love that is the heart of all reality
A reflection for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Year B
by Fr. Peter Bisson, SJ
When I was a little boy, I used to love jumping into bed with my parents in the morning and snuggling up between them. I felt secure in their love for me and in their love for each other. Later I began to recognize how they irritated each other too, but their love was deeper than all that and got them through the difficulties.
This is the kind of memory of love that comes to mind whenever I reflect on the Trinity.
This Sunday’s feast day, Trinity Sunday, flows from last week’s celebration of Pentecost, as well as from the celebration of the Resurrection fifty days before that. In the Resurrection we see the divinity of Jesus, of the Word of God, the Son. In Pentecost, we see the divinity of the Spirit of God, the power of Love who raises Jesus up and raises up the world. Both the Son and the Spirit send us to the Father, and the three are intimately one.
The first reading says that while God is entirely different from us, God is also very close to us. Then our human relationship to God should be one of love and commitment. In the second reading Paul tells us that when we allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit of God, then we participate in Jesus’ own relationship with God, and we become like sons or daughters of God. When we are taken up into this divine life, then our love is full; fear vanishes and is replaced by true freedom. In the short passage from the end of the Gospel of Matthew, we see that being Christian means much more than accepting a belief but means participating in the very current of life between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit into which Jesus introduced the apostles and introduces us.
The revelation of the divinity of the Son and of the Spirit leads to the revelation that God is Trinity. That God is a Trinity – three Persons Who are One – basically means that God is Love. More precisely, it means that God is being-in-Love: Father, Son, and Spirit are totally in love with each other and are constantly giving themselves over to the others. This Love is the heart of all reality.
The Father gives all to the Son, even the Father’s own divinity. The Son welcomes and receives all that the Father wants to give, which is everything. The Son receives it with arms wide open, with gratitude and joy. Then, in gratitude and joy, the Son gives away all he has received. He offers it first to the Father and then to us. What he exchanges with the Father is the Spirit, the gift and energy of Love. God’s being-in-love is a great, constant dance of self-gift and exchange. God is madly in love with us because before making us and the world, God is being-in-Love. Everything the Trinity does starts in Love, unfolds in Love, and ends in Love. For example, when Love meets sin, the result is the Cross.
Through the power of the Spirit and by taking on our humanity, Christ has placed us in himself. Our vocation then as humans is to be like the Son and to receive all the Love that the Father wants to offer us, then to share it with the whole world because we are so grateful and joyful to have received such Love.
The idea of God as Trinity gives us some idea about the inner life of God. Not only do we know that God is, because of Christ and the Spirit we now know something about Who God is, even if God is still mystery. This knowledge, in turn, makes us friends of God. We do not simply know what God wants us to do, which makes us servants or, as we would say today, employees. Instead, we also know why God wants us to do anything, and the answer is being-in-Love. This makes us friends of God.
The following prayer-reflection by Fr. Joe Whelan, SJ, makes the point well:
Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.
(From Finding God in All Things: A Marquette Prayer Book, Marquette University Press)
Imagine if our economy worked like this? If instead of the principles of profit and loss, debt, capital, and labour – what if the economy worked on the exchange of gifts, like the Trinity?
What a great calling we have – to be human, to be alive, to be in love!
The readings for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Year B, are
Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40
Peter Bisson, SJ, is a Jesuit priest in the Canadian Jesuit province. Based in Ottawa, he currently serves as the assistant to the Jesuit provincial for justice, ecology, and Indigenous relations, which means he animates and supports the justice work of the Jesuits in Canada, with a special emphasis on reconciliation and right relations with Indigenous people. He also works in Kateri Native Ministry in Ottawa.