Monday, August 11, 2008

A Reflection on the Trinity

This is a reflection I offered at my College Reunion Last Year,

Michael Rogers, S.J.
Reflection for Reunion Mass.
Trinity Sunday, 2007
Today, Trinity Sunday, at Churches throughout the world, those preaching will talk about how the Trinity. They will talk about how it is that there could be three distinct persons in one God and how it is a mystery. They’ll talk about how its beyond our ability to understand it, to grasp it, to put it into words, more than a few will reference St. Patrick and his famous shamrock, maybe a couple will talk about what St. Augustine had to say about how the way our minds work mirrors the trinity which made us, but most will say it’s a mystery and move on. Its true, the trinity is a mystery, and its one that has inspired debates and schisms from the time when Christ walked the earth until now. However, there is something about the trinity, about God being three persons in one God, which I think appeals to something more basic about how we understand God than the mystery of the metaphysics involved in such a reality. You see, the trinity, the thought that God constantly exists in loving relationship and that it is that love from which the Son and the Spirit, from which the world and each of us in it issues forth, ultimately points to the profound reality that in the end it is relationship, and more importantly love, that makes everything that exists make sense.
Applying the old Jesuit Maxim of finding God in all things, I think that what we discovered most profoundly, what we learned which was most important to us here at the Cross, was not learned in the Biology Labs or Philosophy Seminar rooms. We didn’t pick it up while cramming in Dinand or in some grand lecture. We learned the most profound lessons in the late night B.S. sessions, in the sometimes two hour stretches talking to friends in Kimball, in the countless road trips, some for Appalachia and some for less savory purposes. We learned it in being here, with each other, we learned it in learning how to be with, befriend, and hopefully love one another. The trinity makes sense to us, I think, because when we experience relationship with others, when we experience friendship, and ultimately come to understand that as love, we come to find God in each other, and in the midst of those relationships. It makes sense that if, as John says, God is love that God then exists in just the sort of relationship that love presupposes. When we love one another, when we care for one another, we experience what is often thought of as the most profound mystery of our faith because we participate in something which is at the very core of who God is. The trinity is all about love, its all about relationship. To the extent that we learned more and more how to love, in all of that various ways one does love, we learned our most profound lessons here on this Hill not in the classrooms, but in the care of those who sit around you now.
The readings today point to God existing in just that sort of love. The reading from Proverbs says that the wisdom of God, which we often think of in terms of the Holy Spirit, was God’s delight from the beginning of time. The Spirit was in loving relationship in the Trinity from the beginning. Jesus, in the Gospel, says that everything that the Father has is his also. The sharing of God’s self with Christ points to the love which exists between the Son and the father, just as what Christ has is also the Spirit’s to proclaim. Yet this love clearly spills over, it is too much to be contained, and as Paul tells us in the Letter to the Romans, it is this same love which exists between the Father, Son, and Spirit, which is poured into our hearts, which makes us capable of sharing in that divine mystery by loving one another.
Its nice to be back on campus after five years, a lot has changed, and its interesting to see the new buildings and the new construction. Its nice to walk past places and reminisce, but this is just a material place. Now for a second look around you, go ahead, look around you. Those faces you see, that’s Holy Cross. The buildings are just reminders. The institution itself rolls on without us. We are always a part of it, though, because we are a part of each other, we have indelibly shaped each other. We return to this place after five years a little older, hopefully a little wiser. Most of us have new responsibilities and roles, some of us are married and have children and many of us have interesting jobs in far flung places. We have learned and grown a lot since we left. We are different people than we were 5 years ago. Yet the bonds of friendship remain, and I hope that deep down that it is the people in this chapel right now that brought you back. It is in those faces that you just looked into that all of this begins to make sense, and it is in the context of their friendship, love, and care, that we came here originally to attempt a beginning at making sense of the world. The trinity tells us that God is love, and in the end it is the love which we had here for one another and continue to bear towards one another which makes this mystery not so mysterious.