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God is Relationship

June 16, 2019

A reflection on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Year C. The readings are Proverbs 8:22-31; Psalm 33; Romans 5:1-5 and John 16:12-15.

The Adoration of the Trinity by Albrecht Dürer (1511). Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria.

Last Sunday was the Solemnity of Pentecost and with that we concluded the Easter Season. This Sunday we begin the season called Ordinary Time. But there is nothing much ordinary about it. We’re still wearing white and we’re celebrating. Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, then next Sunday is the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, followed by next Friday, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It’s not very ordinary. It says something about what “ordinary” means for the Christian: Our ordinary means that we are surrounded by the extra-ordinary: by mystery.

And today we celebrate the solemnity of the Holy Trinity: that Doctrine that the Church teaches that is so hard to understand that we call it a “mystery”. It refers to the fact that God is one God; three persons.

It’s not three gods – He’s ONE God; Three persons. Not three aspects, or three qualities, three parts or three different sides of God: Three PERSONS. One God, three persons. It’s hard to understand completely. That’s why we call it a mystery. But it’s not a mystery that we have to solve. It’s a mystery because it’s so amazing and wonderful that it cannot be fully described in human terms. It cannot be fully understood. But that’s OK, because we don’t have to fully understand it; we just have to live it.

And for that, we just have to partially understand it.

We can understand it because we understand love and we understand relationship. Think about it: If God is love, then God has to be relationship. Love cannot be love in isolation; love can only be love in relationship. God is not a God of relationship, but God IS relationship. God is love and love can’t be love in isolation. God can only be love if God is a relationship. God is a relationship of love: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each of them a person, because in order to love or to experience love, you have to be a person. God is one God; three persons, each of these three persons, completely distinct from the other, yet perfectly united to the other.

And we can understand it because we have experienced love and we have experienced relationship. I was thinking about this watching basketball this week. There’s something that happens when a team is so together – you get this in every sport – we call it being “in the zone” – when each player is so in tune with the other; no one is leading, no one is following, they are in perfect harmony. We experience this in the arts as well – in music or in dance. When it happens it’s described as “magic”. It’s when they are in perfect unity, perfect relationship. Almost as if each one ceases to be “self” and becomes one with the “other”. Singer/songwriter Steve Bell calls is “mutually othering” (Pilgrim Year Ordinary Time, published by Novalis). Each one is pouring themselves out into the other – “mutually othering”. We stop being self, without losing the self, and are almost becoming or creating the other.

I don’t know if that makes sense.

Perhaps the most perfect expression of this is marriage, where two – not three, but two persons strive to being one. That’s marriage: two persons becoming one flesh. And it’s never perfect or complete, but we experience it in part – in glimpses.

When we experience that perfect outpouring of self into the other, I think that we can say that we experience a bit of what is like to be inside the life of the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Today’s readings hint at this. The Book of Proverbs says that the Spirit – it is called Wisdom – was with God from the beginning and was “poured” forth. St. Paul uses the same word when writing to the Romans. He says that the love of God has been “poured” out into our hearts, so that we too can love. That’s how perfect relationship works: it’s an out-pouring of love. That’s why God, the Father, sends the Son: He pours out Himself. And that’s why the Father and the Son send the Spirit: that’s the out-pouring of themselves. This is what Jesus is speaking about in today’s Gospel. He has just said that the “Father and I are one” (John 10:30). Now He says that the Spirit will not speak on his own. That’s because Jesus and the Spirit are one.

God is three persons but He is one. God is relationship and that’s why we, who are the image of God, too are called to relationships. God is one and that’s why the Church is also One; not the institutional church, but the people, we, the Church, are called to be one. And because God is one, then being one means that the Church is also Holy – because God is Holy. And being One and Holy means that we have to be Catholic. We are called to relationship with everyone. All are welcome into the life of the Trinity. God pours out himself into everyone. And then, of course we have to be Apostolic, because we have to go out and invite others into this life of the Trinity. We have to be sent. The Father sends the Son; and then the Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit so that we – you and I – can be sent.

So – how are you living Trinity? How are you living relationship? How are you living love? How are you One? At work, in your families? In your marriages? How are you Holy? How are you Catholic? How are you pouring out of yourself into others? Are you seeking that “mutual othering” with God? How are you going out to reach others? At work, in your families? In your communities?

Because that’s Church.

That’s love.

It’s God.

It’s a mystery.

It’s Trinity.

From → English, Reflections

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