In a way, to think about Trinity Sunday is to simply acknowledge that God is love. To try to do even more than that can cause us to run the risk of getting it wrong about God. Three persons, one God. On the surface it seems easy enough, but in reality, it is a mystery beyond our ability to comprehend. God is love. But if we are to really understand even a little what it means to say God is love, we have to consider what love is. That is probably more true today when the word is used for so many things.
In the English language, love is such an imprecise word. We use it to describe the way we feel about objects, even those that are not terribly important. We can say we “love it” when someone says something funny or interesting. Even when we speak the words to another person, we can be saying something that we really do not mean. We might say “I love you” as a way to get what we want. Sadly, the way which we use the word can be far from what it meant when love is used in its truest sense, to describe God.
Consider first some examples of human love that give us a glimpse of divine love. Think of the case of a parent and child. When we see that in action, when we sense the deep love of a child for father or mother, or a parent with love for a son or daughter, there is something really beautiful about that. When two people fall in love and get married, we get a glimpse of something holy and divine. When we see the passion of someone really following a dream to make the world a better place, such as a doctor or nurse committed to serve the most vulnerable, it is not difficult at all to see goodness.
Unfortunately I need to look no farther than my own life to see that I do not really love as often as I might think I do. I want to do heroic things. And even with those persons I love, such as my mother or my brother, I do not always seem to be able to love in a consistent and truthful way. Sometimes I allow unimportant things to take over my desire to seek always the good, namely God, and the good for the creatures he has made.
But at the same time, sometimes I do love. I can consider the good and the dignity of another and meet them in helping them in their needs. Sometimes I can set aside my selfishness and give something of importance to another. Sometimes I can even make a sacrifice for the good of another.
Sacrifice, generosity, going above and beyond the call of duty can indeed be rare in this day and age. We are surrounded and bombarded with all kinds of messages that tell us to get what we want today. We do not like to wait. I know that I find it harder and harder to wait just a few minutes for something. And I find it is not always really easy to do something I do not want to do that is good for others; rather I want to do always what I want to do.
Love is that action that directs our will toward the good. When we love, we cannot really love something bad or evil. When we seek evil or destruction, it is because something that we should love is missing. It is true that many things can be good, but when they are not used for their proper purpose they can lead us away from love to selfishness.
For God, then, we are invited to think about the ways in which God is calling us to really love. How do we seek to imitate God by having the best interests of others in our hearts? How is it that we seek to love by realizing that we never are meant to cling to our possessions, but to see all as gift to be placed at the service of others? How is it we are called to spend time with God, looking deeply for his presence where ever it may be found?
So much seeks to distract us from love. There is the sadness of technology, movies and television that can take up all of our time. We can live in the same house as others without really knowing others. We can be “ships in the night” so to speak. We can become so caught up on something as fleeting as success at work or at play that we forget to be successful as people by loving those people whom God has placed here.
If there is something to be learned on this Trinity Sunday, it is precisely that we are called to remember that God is love, and that powerful love is because God made us as something irreplacably special. But really realizing this is to see most clearly the ways in which God has generously given us the lives of those around us. Since we are all made in God’s image, it is these many images of people around us who can help us, if only little by little to come to know more fully just what is meant when we speak of God, yet at the same time acknowledging that no one can really ever understand God.
Since the author of love is the one who is love, we must always be focused upon the Trinity to know what to do and where to go. God is the source of love, and it is only in imitating God that we can participate in this love. God is love; and if you really want to know God, then be love too.