Relationship and The Holy Trinity

“The earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.”

(Psalm 33)

It is always a little intimidating to be asked to write something about the Holy Trinity. I find myself challenged to describe adequately this great, defining Mystery of our faith. And yet, it remains one of the most naturally appealing parts of the Church for me. What is it that I love so tremendously about the Trinity?

One theme that weaves its way consistently through reflections on the Trinity is relationship. It’s not a surprise to me that I feel such an affinity with this belief. Our relationships drive us all.  We are forged and fed by those with our God, in the Persons of both the Father and the Son, and those with each other, bound together by the exchange of love—the Holy Spirit. Our God is a communal God and all that God has created is meant to draw us ever closer to God and others.

This story, from Nouwen’s book, Reaching Out, describes a visit from a former student, illustrating beautifully this loving relationship.

“We sat on the ground facing each other and talked a little about what life had been for us in the last year, about our work, our common friends, and about the restlessness of our hearts. Then slowly as the minutes passed by we became silent. Not an embarrassing silence but a silence that could bring us closer together than the many small and big events of the last year. We would hear a few cars pass and the noise of someone who was emptying a trash can somewhere. But that did not hurt. The silence which grew between us was warm, gentle and vibrant. Once in a while we looked at each other with the beginning of a smile pushing away the last remnants of fear and suspicion. It seemed that while the silence grew deeper around us we became more and more aware of a presence embracing both of us. Then he said, “It is good to be here” and I said, “Yes it is good to be together again,” and after that we were silent again for a long period. And as a deep peace filled the empty space between us he said hesitantly, “When I look at you it is as if I am in the presence of Christ.” I did not feel startled, surprised or in need of protesting, but I could only say, “It is the Christ in you, who recognizes the Christ in me.” “Yes,” he said, “He is indeed in our midst,” and then he spoke the words which entered into my soul as the most healing words I had heard in many years, “From now on, wherever you go, or wherever I go, all the ground between us will be holy ground.”

There’s more to this than simply being “together” as community, though. St. Paul reminds us that we are family. “Brothers and sisters: For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a Spirit of adoption, through whom we cry, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.”(Romans 8:14-17)

There are experiences in each of our lives that affirm our place as an adopted daughter or son of God. Today, take some time to quietly sit with God and reflect on what experiences have helped you understand your relationship with God. This lovely story by Sr. Joan Chittister is helpful to me in my own reflection on this connection.

“Once upon a time, the story begins, some seekers from the city asked the local monastic a question: “How does one seek union with God?” And the Wise One said, “The harder you seek, the more distance you create between God and you.” “So what does one do about the distance?” the seekers asked. And the elder said simply, “Just understand that it isn’t there.” “Does that mean that God and I are one?” the disciples said. And the monastic said, “Not one. Not two.” “But how is that possible?” the seekers insisted. And the monastic answered, “Just like the sun and its light, the ocean and the wave, the singer and the song. Not one. But not two.” (Wisdom Distilled From the Daily, p. 195)

Once we can consistently acknowledge our true relationship with God, we can turn our hearts to how we live in community with others. What relationships are whole and strong? What relationships do we have or see that are out of whack? How can the example of the love of the Holy Trinity help strengthen or heal those divisions? Perhaps the place to begin is to acknowledge the Christ within ourselves, and then recognize it in others.

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