Nicholas King SJ
The blessed trinity of our loving Father
Exodus 34:4-6, 8-9 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 John 3:16-18 THE CHURCH selects an odd reading for the feast today of the trinity of God, for on the face of it Jesus' words to Nicodemus mention only two members of the Holy Trinity, yet the whole story is there, summed up in those (literally) crucial words, so central to the mystery of Christian living, with which our gospel opens: "for God so loved the world that he gave his only son . ."
That is the start and finish of the mystery of the Trinity, that mind-boggling and yet indispensible doctrine of God, which the Church has always felt impelled to proclaim and celebrate, even though in the history of the Church it has
proved tight-rope difficult to talk of the Trinity without falling into heresy.
For the mystery means what the gospel says, that there is a God, who created the world in which we live. Though the most casual inspection reveals that this world is a shambles, in which all sorts of evil things happen that ought not to happen. Despite this God loves us nonetheless.
This love of God is a costly one; for he has to pay a price for it, namely the gift of his only Son. And, as we know, it is a real gift, not giving with one hand and reclaiming it with the other; for the gift was final and unconditional, and Jesus died of it.
God's love for the world operates within the world, and is not a remote, detached benignity, but a passionate love that rolls up its sleeves and gets
stuck in, and so Jesus walks this earth, "not in order to judge the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him".
God is trying desperately hard to prevent the world from losing its way; God is passionate to share what is his own, and what is on offer is nothing less than eternal life.
God's quest for the world is all-embracing: no one is
excluded if they trust God; the only ones condemned are those who will not open up to God as God has opened up to them.
The fact is (and there is a danger of stating it too easily, too baldy, as though it were the most obvious thing in the world) that God is a community of love; the Father loves the Son, and the Son loves the Father, and their love is itself a part of their community, the Trinity's third person.
It is not however (for God cannot be) a mutual admiration society, happily suspended in a warm glow of love somewhere apart from our messy old universe.
This community of love is actually operating within that universe, wanting everyone to belong to it, seeking to create the kingdom of God out of the shambles we have made through our failures in love.
God is one: we have learned that from the Jews, our great parents in religion; but God is also three — a concerned and open-ended community, animated at every stage by love, always inviting humanity to join in. No wonder the Church has us celebrate this feast. Today above all we should proclaim from the housetops: "Godso loved the world, that he gave his only son . ."