This Sunday is the Feast of the Holy Trinity. The readings can be found here.
Today’s reflection comes from Fr. Michael Campbell-Johnston, SJ, a former provincial of the British Jesuits. You can read the entire reflection here, but set forth below is an extended summary:
“The dogma of the Holy Trinity is a mystery we can never fully understand, at least in this life. How can there be only one God yet three separate persons each with their own nature and equal to each other? But it does teach us one very clear truth, crucially important and with practical consequences. The very essence of God’s nature is not a mystery of isolation or individualism but of sharing, of mutual outpouring, of giving and receiving. The exchange of love between Father and Son is what Jesus called the Holy Spirit, the spirit of love.
This is why, apart from the philosophical definition given to Moses in the Bible “I am who am”, the only true definition we have of God as a person is that given us by St John “God is love”. And it is because of this love that you, me and everything else exists. We were created by love in order to love. And this is where the practical consequences come in. Our whole purpose in life is to learn what love is or, better put, to learn how to love.
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This is explained very clearly by Pope John Paul II in a letter he wrote to families. “God created man in his own image and likeness: calling him to existence through love. He called him at the same time for love. God is love and in himself He lives a mystery of personal loving communion. Creating the human race in his own image and continually keeping it in being, God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsibility, of love and communion. Love is therefore the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being.”
The great Jesuit palaeontologist Teilhard de Chardin also saw this very clearly and declared that love is the fundamental law of the universe, the prime and indispensable motor of its progress. “Love has always been carefully eliminated from the realist and positivist concepts of the world, but sooner or later we will have to acknowledge that it is the fundamental impulse of life or, if you prefer, the one natural medium in which the rising course of evolution can proceed. With love omitted, there is truly nothing ahead of us except the forbidding prospect of standardisation and enslavement; the doom of ants and termites. It is through love and within love that we must look for the deepening of our deepest self, in the life-giving coming together of humankind.”
There is however a fly in the ointment. God’s love consists in a total gift of self and we can only share in this, the purpose of our existence, when we too are able to give ourselves totally. Yet we are all born with a love that is selfish, turned in on self. And it is no easy task to rid ourselves of the selfishness or egoism we all have. In fact the whole of our life can be considered as a long gradual struggle to achieve a love that is ever more selfless, more geared towards the other. And the extraordinary thing is, the more we give and go out to others, the more we ourselves receive and the richer our life becomes. As Jesus taught, if we die to ourselves, we become alive in others and in God. Let us make an effort today, the celebrate this feast of the Holy Trinity, to perform one act that makes our love less centered on self, more unselfish, more open to another.”