Holy Trinity model of love: initiated for service to the community
‘In knowing the Father (The Lover), the Son (The Beloved) and the Spirit (Love), we catch a glimpse that, in his innermost being, God is a dialogue, a life of love among the three Persons. This is the originality of the Christian conception of God, and it is here that man [& woman] find the true explanation of themselves. They feel an irrepressible yearning for community, solidarity and dialogue; they need it to live and grow, they need it more than the air. But it is only in the light of the Trinity that this finding acquires an unexpected depth: we are meant to meet, to dialogue and to love, because we are “image of God”, and God is, in fact – as far as we are given to understand – a community of love.’ [from Monsignor Francesco Follo].
One of the great challenges for everyone, but especially young people, is to learn how to form healthy relationships. It’s made more difficult when we’ve not been properly initiated.
Fr Richard Rohr OFM wrote a wonderful book called “Adam’s Return” articulates the male spiritual journey, and shares his wisdom after researching rites of initiation around the world.
He says, the old initiation rites – even predating the religious rituals that developed – were all about teaching the boys that their gifts, talents and power were to be used for service to the community and not for selfish purposes.
Fr Richard focuses on boys because women are more naturally initiated through child-birth, after which their whole lives revolve around caring for the child = serving the community.
I begin the homily with this background because the Holy Trinity is a model of relationship and community. But it’s a style of relationship that is becoming foreign to new generations, largely, because older generations have not been able, or willing, to initiate them properly.
It’s very difficult to form a healthy relationship if your underlying understanding of life is that everything is about me and my happiness. After true initiation, we know our happiness comes from serving the community: our parents, spouse, children, neighbours and our nation.
Sometimes we focus too much on trying to explain how the Trinity can be three and one at the same time, when what’s most important is understanding how the Trinity can stay together.
Surely it’s only because the Father-Son-Spirit are all united with and for the other.
As each is giving way to the other, they are also receiving from the other.
I like this summary of the Trinity I saw on the internet: Within the Trinity there is both unity and diversity: unity without uniformity, and diversity without division.
Is it possible? Yes: look at a symphony orchestra where many diverse instruments combine (unity), to produce a unique sound that is more beautiful than the individuals.
Or, when a man and woman unite to create new life, there is unity and diversity.
So, the gift of the Trinity is given to us as a model for how to form our own relationships.
Where there is an imbalance in the exercise of power, there will always be difficulties in our relationships. An imbalance in power always occurs when we expect the other person to serve us, instead of our fundamental duty to serve the other.
Fr Richard commented that many “boys” get married looking for a mother. This happens when a boy is not removed from his mother’s constant serving him, or protecting him from his actions. He never learns to become a servant of others and is condemned to an unhappy life.
We touch on this in our popular song in the Church: As I kneel before you (Ave Maria). The question is: do we break the words down to be an encounter of love through our service to others? Or are we waiting for God to tap us on the shoulder and say: do this?
In the Holy Trinity, God has already spoken, and continues to speak for every generation.
As I kneel before you,
As I bow my head in prayer,
Take this day, make it yours
and fill me with your love.
Ave Maria, Gratia plena,
Dominus tecum, Benedicta tu.
All I have I give you,
Every dream and wish are yours,
Mother of Christ, Mother of mine,
present them to my Lord. (Repeat Refrain)
As I kneel before you,
And I see your smiling face,
Ev’ry thought, ev’ry word
Is lost in your embrace. (Repeat Refrain)
At some point in time, if we want real love (which needs community), we have to embrace the imperfections of each other. St Eugene de Mazenod left these parting words for us as he died:
Amongst yourselves practice: charity, charity, charity; and outside zeal for the salvation of souls.
May that be our way of living this week and beyond, so that the love of the Trinity can continue to animate each of us so that we can receive frequent moments of joy and happiness.
St Eugene, patron saint of broken families, Pray for Us.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI