On the Union of Love
(Prov.8:22-31; Rom.5:1-5; Jn.16:12-15)
Some people love a good mystery. Pope Leo XIII once said that the greatest mystery of all is the Holy Trinity, for how can one God possibly be made up of three divine persons?
The only reason we know about the Trinity is because God told us about it himself. The Bible doesn’t use the word ‘Trinity’, but its meaning is clearly there. The Bible often refers to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – the three persons in one God.
At Pentecost, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘if you love me, you’ll keep my commandments, and I’ll ask the Father, and he’ll give you another Advocate (the Holy Spirit) to be with you always’ (Jn.14:15).
Jesus also told his apostles to go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Mt.28:19).
Jesus often spoke about his Father and the Spirit, but he didn’t say everything. In today’s Gospel, he says he has much more to say, but it’s too much for his disciples. He then adds that the Spirit, when he comes, will guide them towards the truth.
And that’s just what happened. Early on, the Holy Spirit guided the Church towards the doctrine of the Trinity, which is what we affirm every time we say the Nicene or Apostles’ Creed. That’s where we say we ‘believe in one God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit …’
Many people have tried to explain the Trinity. St. Patrick talked about the three leaves of the shamrock, with each leaf representing one of the three persons. But really, our ordinary human language and our limited experience make it impossible to precisely explain who God is.
The Jesuit Fr Anthony de Mello said that explaining the Trinity is like describing the colour green to someone who’s been blind since birth. God is always far greater and much more than anything we could ever think of.
But there is something we do know. The thing that unites the three persons in one God is love.
God is three persons permanently united in love. He wants us to join that union of love.
The Father and the Son love each other so completely that they are one. And the love between the Father and the Son is so strong that it’s a powerful force in itself – and that’s the Holy Spirit.
So, what does all this mean for us?
Well, firstly, we should remember St Paul’s words: we are the Body of Christ. God became incarnate through Jesus Christ, and he continues to make himself incarnate through us, his disciples. We are now Jesus’ hands, feet and eyes. It’s through you and me that God now delivers his love into the world.
Secondly, God gives us the model of the Trinity because he wants us to copy it in our own lives. Just as the three persons in one God are permanently united in love, God wants us to experience that same perfect love in our relationships, in our marriages, in our families and in our communities. He wants us all to be permanently united in perfect love. And such divine love is never passive. It can never be contained. If we choose to live in perfect love, just like the Trinity, then our love will grow naturally to include others. It will transform the world.
That’s what God wants of us.
And finally, God the Father doesn’t want to leave us where we are. We’ve all been created in his image, and he wants us to join him. That’s why he sent us his Son and his Spirit. They’re calling each of us to join them in that same perfect love – so that the divine three then expands to become four … five … six … seven … That’s also what God wants.
We can’t do these things on our own. To succeed, we need the creativity of the Father, the loving heart of the Son, and the power of the Holy Spirit. They’re all available to each of us when we open our hearts to receive them.
So, whenever we make the sign of the Cross and whenever we pray, let’s remember that God is three persons permanently united in love.
He wants us to join that union of love.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.