Relationships permeate our lives as human beings. From the first moment of conception we are in a relationship. The relationships grow as we are born into a family.
Moving into childhood, we add the relationship of friends. We have social groups, neighborhood networks, collaborators at work or in civic affairs. Some of these relationships develop into true friendships of varying degrees. Those who are married have a committed relationship of love and sacrifice. Relationships are part of the human experience.
As we celebrate Trinity Sunday, we might reflect on our relationship with God. How do I see that relationship? What are the terms I use? How would I define the relationship? Is it a friendship? Is it a loving relationship? To what would I compare this relationship?
How does this relationship affect my life? How is the relationship developed? Is it a loving and living relationship?
Pondering this mystery can help us to both appreciate this relationship and to grow in it. St. Teresa of Calcutta once said, “If you want a love message to be heard, it has got to be sent out. To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.”
The Scripture readings for today’s liturgy can help us in our reflection. As Christians, we believe that Jesus is at the center of our relationship with God. He is the gateway for the relationship and the path that leads us deeper and deeper into the very life of God. In the Gospel passage for today’s liturgy, Jesus describes himself in this manner. He tells us that everything he has, he gives to us. He also tells us that everything He has comes from the Father.
Jesus’ gift of the Spirit continues that loving presence in our lives. From Jesus and in Jesus, we experience the Holy Trinity as being present in our lives. God is not some distant being who hovers over us like a cloud does in the sky, but one who actively engages us in life.
St. Paul echoes this concept when, writing to the Romans, he says: “The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
God, who is love, dwells in our hearts. It is his presence there that helps us to grow as human beings — growing in all that makes us truly human into beings who can give of themselves in love, even to the point of personal sacrifice; who can forgive and heal through mercy; who care for all human beings, and who can know the truth and seek to live it in their lives.
This love of God is so powerful and ever-present that St. Paul says of Christians: “Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint.” Our relationship with God, based on faith, develops in love and fills us with hope.
The passage from the Book of Proverbs, which serves as the first reading, is written as though wisdom itself were speaking. In the passage, we encounter the transcendence of God, greater than any and all created things, existing before anything was created, and whose might and power brought all things into existence. Elements of nature are mentioned: the earth itself, fountains and springs of water, hills and mountains, the skies and seas. Of all this beauty and wonder, it is mankind of whom God can say: “I found delight in the human race.” It is with the human race that God chooses to enter into a relationship of love.
God is transcendent, yet he enters into a relationship, a covenant, with mankind. Jesus is at the center of this relationship, for it is through the Son that we know the Father. He sends his Spirit to remain and abide with us, drawing us ever deeper into the relationship of love.
Celebrating Holy Trinity Sunday gives us an opportunity to celebrate, to reflect on and to be drawn further into this relationship of love.
Msgr. Joseph Prior is pastor of Our Lady of Grace Parish, Penndel, and a former professor of Sacred Scripture and rector of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.
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