My favorite image of the Holy Trinity is in the large dome in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. It depicts the crucifixion, with the Father on His throne behind the crucifix, His arms outstretched and His hands holding Christ's hands to the cross. On the right side is a depiction of a dove as a symbol of the Holy Spirit.
In a nutshell, this image conveys the simple message: The Father, His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit conspire to save us.
This image also conveys love that suffers and love that turns into joy. In the book, "Contemplating the Trinity," Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the papal household, examines the theology of the Trinity. Father Cantalamessa presents Trinity theologian Father Hans Urs Von Balthasar as essentially stating that "what happens at the cross is, in some way, a reflection of what happens within the Trinity itself since before time began. In His act of generating the Son, the Father dispossesses Himself totally of His divinity to give it to the Son, in an absolute renunciation of being God by Himself."
Christ, in turn, in His love and obedience to the Father, surrenders His life completely out of love for the Father and for humanity. This love is the Holy Spirit.
In addition to the dimension of suffering in the Trinity, there is also Trinitarian joy! The Holy Spirit is the personification of that joy. We all experience suffering and joy in life. Sometimes we experience them simultaneously. Sometimes joy comes from suffering for a loved one. After washing the disciples' feet at the last supper, Jesus said, "Happy will you be when you do these things." In writing to the Corinthians, St. Paul states, "With all our afflictions, I am overjoyed."
From this, it's easy to see that unity leading to community has its origin in the Most Holy Trinity. Hence, the Most Holy Trinity is the source and model of all community.
The sin of Adam brought division into the world. Christ's death on Calvary takes away sin in the world. The gift of the Holy Spirit enables us to partake of His mercy and to experience union with God and with one another.
We live in a society that for the most part has fallen away from the God it doesn't know. It's a hostile and cruel society. In some countries, Christians are being targeted for slaughter. Where Christians aren't slaughtered, they're persecuted and freedoms are restricted.
Yet, in a certain sense, this is also a glorious time. Today, witnessing for Jesus doesn't go unnoticed or unpunished. When we suffer because of our faith, we know we're doing something good. In the Acts of the Apostles, the apostles rejoiced in being scourged for the sake of witnessing to the teachings of Jesus.
In the Gospel for the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, we see the source of their power: "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life."
Here we have the answer to all the hatred and division in the world. The Most Holy Trinity is at work creating community in a world divided by human weakness, abetted by Satan.
In the end, the Holy Trinity will win. Meanwhile, it's our privilege to return God's love by holy obedience, even if it means suffering. God wants to use us to save the very people who hate God and therefore hate us.
The recent celebration of Memorial Day commemorated men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice to keep us free. They were proud to fight for their country's freedom.
Shouldn't we be proud to fight for the salvation of those who don't know Jesus and treat us accordingly? Isn't it a great honor to be selected by the Holy Trinity to bear witness to Gospel values? To die for one's faith is an even more glorious thing than to die for one's country.
Instead of whining that others are taking away our religious freedom, why not live the Gospels with such joy that it will confuse them? Everyone knows where hate comes from, but love is a different story. When they see love from above, they will know that it comes from the God of love. Deep down their hearts hunger for this love.
Not only should we bear wrongs patiently, but we should also do so joyously. We should also encourage those walking with us. Paul tells us to rejoice and "mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you."
With the Holy Trinity as the source of our unity and community, we'll find strength to endure hardship and persecution. The Father sent His Son to die on the cross for our salvation; the Son's obedience that made salvation possible; and the power of the Holy Spirit enables us to remain faithful to living God's love in the midst of great difficulty.
In all of this, we rejoice to be chosen to live the unity and community that the Trinity models for us. Living Trinitarian love and joy is a privilege, and an introduction to a way of life that is just getting started.
In Romans 8:18, Paul states: "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed in us."RELATED ARTICLE(S):I thought you should know | The forgiveness of sins is more than a private matter