God exists within relationship of love
By Shawn Reeves
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity/May 22
Proverbs 8:22-31; Psalm 8:4-5,6-7,8-9; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15
Of all the things we humans find satisfying, I would wager that relationships are on the top of most of our lists. Food, sports, entertainment, accomplishment — they all have their rewards, but none seem to harness the depths of who we are as persons as relationships do. None cause us to thrive as vibrantly when there or languish as dramatically when absent as do human relationships.
So many aspects of our experience of relationship exist within the body — a touch, a kiss, a warm feeling in the heart — that at times it would seem that we cannot fathom the phenomenon of relationship without a body. But to be a God who is Love is to reside within relationship — eternally. And that is what our readings celebrate this Sunday. It’s precisely what belief in the Trinity is all about.
The Trinity is a truth that, though weighty, is often written off in many hearts as a mystery to be obediently believed by the simple, but only understood by the elect and learned few. It need not be this way. The key is relationship.
To borrow an analogy from St. Augustine, I have a mind that can think, reflect, imagine. I can even have a thought (or a word) about myself, and through this I can appreciate myself, love myself. But none of these alone are me — the mind, the word, the love. Rather, these internal relationships are how I exist and experience myself. I am one, but there are relationships that make me who I am. If that is the case for me, that is certainly the case for God.
The mind and word and love of God are so absolute and infinite, however, that these internal relationships are also absolute and personal — a Father and His Son (His Word) and the Love that binds them in communion (the Holy Spirit). One God, three eternal relationships. To be God is to exist within relationship.
EVERYTHING IN COMMON
In the mystical, poetic manner of the first reading from Proverbs, the divine Son of the Father is spoken of as the very Wisdom that flows forth from the Father. Before there were depths, fountains, mountains, and hills, there was the Wisdom of the Father, the Son. At no point did the Father ever not possess a Son but always was Father from “the beginning of His ways.”
Wherever the Father was, the Son announces, “I was there.” And whatever the Father did, the Son and the Wisdom of the Father (1 Corinthians 1:24) declares, “I was beside him as his craftsman” — the two, eternally bound together, undivided in relationship.
Jesus reinforces this in the Gospel, declaring that His union with the Father is so complete and irrevocable that “everything that the Father has is mine.” There is nothing they do not possess in common, even divine life itself.
But there is another who has a natural, active right to what is of the Father and the Son. “The Spirit of truth,” Jesus announces, “will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” What is the Father’s is also the Son’s is also the Holy Spirit’s — One God, three cooperative and united relationships.
Perhaps, though, few things define for us “relationship” more than love. So it is fitting that our readings offer us this last insight: God’s love, the love through which the Father and Son are eternally united in relationship and in which the Holy Spirit’s personhood is identified, is poured into us through prayer and sacraments. “Because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
The Holy Spirit, who is the inexpressible communion and fellowship between the Father and the Son, plunges Himself into our souls and brings to our experiences an awakening of Trinitarian relationship, so that our relationships might become empowered by the love of theirs. Truly, “we boast in the hope of the glory of God!” Glory to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!
SHAWN REEVES has served as the director of religious education at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center in Champaign since 2001. He and his family are members of St. Malachy Parish in Rantoul.