Catholic in Yanchep

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The Most Holy Trinity, Year B | God is by nature relational

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Russian Icon of the Old Testament Trinity, Andrei Rublev, c.1360-1428, Andronikov Monastery, Moscow.

Russian Icon of the Old Testament Trinity, Andrei Rublev, c.1360-1428, Andronikov Monastery, Moscow.

Today’s readings:

Word format: Year B Trinity Sunday

Pdf format: Year B Trinity Sunday

God is One, because he is the fullness of being and is not limited by something other than God.  But Scripture also reveals that God is Love, and that means that God is by his very nature a relational community of persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  From John Bergsma at The Sacred Page:

If God is monopersonal and Jesus is not divine (=Arianism), then God showed his love for us by this: by creating another creature who came down to suffer, die, and save us.  But God didn’t come Himself.  That’s nice, but it’s hardly extreme love.

On the other hand, if the different persons of the Trinity are just “modes” of God’s one person (=Modalism), then there is nothing but self-love in God.  God the “Father” and God the “Son” aren’t really different, so the love between them is either an illusion, an anthropomorphism, or self-love.  Self-love is not the highest love—in fact, it may be the lowest.  The implication is that until God created other persons (angels, humans) there was in Himself nothing but self-love, but not the highest form of love—total gift of self for another person (John 15:13).

If God is not a Trinity, he did not have the perfection of love in Himself until he created other persons to love.  So God was imperfect until the world was made. That creates philosophical difficulties.

But God is a Trinity.  There existed within Himself, without the need of creatures, the perfection of love from all time: the perfect and total gift of self from Father to Son and back again.  The Self they exchange is the Spirit.  Thus, God did not create out of a need to attain perfection Himself, but out of the gratuitous overflow of his love.  And, as St. Paul teaches in this passage of Romans, his desire for us is to draw us into the burning circle of his love.

So there is a very great difference in how we relate to God because he is a Trinity, and if we do not understand or recognize his Trinitarian nature it impairs our union with Him due to misconceptions.  A monopersonal God can be worshiped and even loved; but only the true, tripersonal God can draw us into the flow of love within Himself, making us “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).  Read more here.

But don’t expect to understand the Trinity fully.  John Bergsma again:

Still, the Trinity is a mystery.  But mysteries are not unique to theology or religion: in physics, it’s well-known that light is both a wave and a particle.  How can this be?  No one knows, but experiments show that it behaves like both.  The doctrine of the Trinity is like that.

Fr Barron explains more in this series of videos:

Though contemplation of the Divine Nature is good, it’s not enough!  Listen to Fr Barron explain that the doctrine of the Trinity is a call to action: click here to listen.

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