Blog & Pastor Letters

Trinity Sunday

06-12-2022Weekly ReflectionFr. Patrick Riviere

For years scientists have discovered various elements of our world that seem to push the limits of our understanding. The theory that time actually passes relative to the speed of the individual, the reality that everything is composed of various conglomerations of subatomic particles, the infinite vastness and continual expansion of the entire universe — all these theories boggle the mind. It’s hard to wrap your brain around and truly understand the possibility of some of these theories.

It honestly reminds me of the feeling that I would often have in my Trinity class in the seminary. That class always had the reputation of being the hardest to understand. You would often hear people say that they finished the course knowing less than they did when they started it. It can seem ridiculous to say that we have one God, who is also three persons but is not three gods. But it can also seem ridiculous to say that our speed can control how fast or slow time moves for somebody. Just because it seems ridiculous on the surface doesn’t mean that there isn’t an incredibly important truth being revealed to us. The mystery of the Trinity is essential because it’s the mystery of who God is, and if we don’t know who God is, then how can we ever hope to love him or be in a relationship with him?

Saint John gives us perhaps the shortest yet also an incredibly profound definition of who God is. “God is love.” That statement is so simple, yet reveals much about who God is and why we say that He is a Trinity. We don’t say that God loves, but that God is love itself. If we look at God we see what love is, what love looks like. And one person is not sufficient for love. Love is a relationship, which means we need two people involved in this. Two people at least are necessary for a relationship of love. The Father loves the Son with everything that He has and is. The Son receives that love from the Father and in turn loves Him back. Love does that to someone — when we are loved well by someone, the natural response is to love that person back. Love has this tendency to draw love out of the other person.

And this love between Father and Son is so real, so complete, so perfect, that we say it is an eternal person — the love of the Father and the Son is the Spirit, the very presence of the love of God. And because love unites the lover and the loved, the Father and the Son and the Spirit are all united as one God. So if God is love, then God is Trinity — it’s the most perfect way to reveal love.

And when I know that God, there’s a foundation that is created that cannot be shaken. It’s knowing that God that allows St. Paul to write about boasting of his afflictions and sufferings. In the Second Reading, he lists this chain of events that we all experience that is rooted in the reality of a God who is love. Whenever we experience suffering on our own, it inevitably leads to discouragement, despair, and hopelessness. But look at this progression that St. Paul outlines: affliction produces endurance, or patience, a steadfastness that doesn’t back down or give up in the face of trial. And that patience produces proven character, one who was tested and able to stand firm. And that proven character produces hope, not a blind optimism but a confidence in a Person who we know will come through in the end. And the source and foundation of that hope, of this entire progression, is the love of God poured into our hearts.

Without love, the chain falls apart. But with that God who is love, who is willing to suffer and allow Himself to be killed for us, who is present with us always, that affliction actually becomes the most powerful source of growth. It gives us the opportunity to see God in the areas of our life that are the most painful, and thus need His presence the most. And how can love truly exist if it does not pass through the way of suffering?

It can seem paradoxical to say that suffering and love coexist, just as it can seem paradoxical to say that one God can exist as three Persons. That paradox reveals not a contradiction but a love that is unable to be stopped, a love that brings hope to whoever is willing to accept it. As we celebrate this Trinity Sunday, look at this God who is love, and receive the love that He has for you.