November 19, 2019

Love Simply Has To Give Itself To Others

An understanding of the Holy Trinity remains incomprehensible to us, a mystery. Our finite human minds cannot reach around the totality of its truth and assimilate all that it is. But because of the revelation of Jesus Christ the reality of the Holy Trinity is intelligible to us. While we can’t grasp the nature of the Holy Trinity in its entirety, we can know something about the inner life of God.

We have to admit, in all humility, that definitional language is inadequate. We can only define what we comprehend. This means that the language of philosophy and science buckles under the enormity, the gravity, the weight of the truth about the Holy Trinity. Only the language of love is strong enough to carry its weight. We can only use descriptive language; we can’t use definitional language. And the same is true for love.

Take, for example, the case where a married couple who have been married for fifty years tells: “We’re still finding things out about each other.” You say to yourself, “How can that be? How can the two of them have lived together for fifty years still have things to find out about each other? It’s incomprehensible! But it’s true.”

Or friends who have known each other over a life time, and one tells you, “I’ve never seen that side of him (her) before.” You say to yourself, “How can that be? How can this person who has known the other for their whole lives never have seen that side of him (her)? That’s incomprehensible. But it’s true.

And at funerals I’ve heard people say, “I never knew that about him (her).” I’m sure you’ve all heard similar statements.

We simply have to come to the understanding that when it comes to personal relationships, when it comes to knowing other persons, there’s always something more to know about the other. Our hearts and our minds have an infinite capacity to know and love others; we never can know enough about another enough, particularly one we love. We can never love another enough; we can never be loved enough by another. We ourselves always want to be known and loved more fully by those whom we love. There’s always something more to love in another; there’s always something more to being loved by another.

Well, why? I think it’s because we’re made in the image and likeness of God. God is Persons who are infinitely and forever revealing themselves, each to the Others, loving the Others, emptying themselves into the Others.

Which is to say that God is relational. God is revelational. God is personal. We are talking here about the inner nature and inner reality of God; about God’s very own life.

God is Persons, not functions, Persons who forever and infinitely exhaust their very selves into the others. And in so doing they find their being in the others. For isn’t it true that we find our personhood by belonging to others? That we define who we are by living in our relationships with those whom we love? Doesn’t it take family to form an individual? Doesn’t it take family in which an individual can form and shape their self-identity?  And, contrawise, doesn’t it take individuals to form and make a family, to add to a family… add their gifts of character, values, and dreams?

But that’s precisely the inner life and nature of God in whose image and likeness we are made, and in whose life we live, and move, and have our being.

“Well, so what?” you ask. That’s always the ultimate theological question!

This is why, it seems to me, that it matters so very much to understand the notion of the Holy Trinity. To the extent that you do not live in loving relationships with others whom you tend to love, to the extent that you do not reveal who you are to others who love you, to the extent that you are not personal, revelational, and relational, to that extent you will live in pain. To that extent you’ll live in hell.

Hell, it seems to me, is your inability (for whatever reason) to share your inner self, to reveal your inner self, to give your inner self to others in love. It’s the opposite to living in communion; it’s life lived in the utter pain and hell of total isolation.

God, we must remember, also wants to love you. God wants to share His life with you. God wants to reveal himself to you. God wants to show himself, to share himself, to give himself to you in love. God’s very nature and inner life urge it, demand it. Love simply has to give itself to others.

And so, if you fail to pray, how can God reveal himself to you? If you never spend time alone with Him, how can He share His life with you? If you don’t let Him, how can God give His love to you? Those who feel alienated from God are those who aren’t letting Him give himself to them, share Himself with them.

We must, you see, live life in the life of God. It is our destiny to live life as God lives life. We must live as persons who are revealing, who are loving, and who are sharing. And to the extent that we live in God’s life, we’ll live in heaven. And to the extent what we miss our destiny and fail to live lives like that, we’ll live in utter pain, we’ll live in hell. God gives us life here on earth and He sent His Son to us here on earth in order that we might live as God would have us live, live in His image and likeness.

That is why Holy Mother Church places this Sunday, this Trinity Sunday, before us each and every year. That’s why Trinity Sunday matters, and matters very much in your life, and in mine.

So instead of attempting to answer the intellectual questions posed by this great Mystery, let’s you and I simply enter into the Mystery by living in it.

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Written by
Fr Charles Irvin

REVEREND CHARLES IRVIN, or "Father Charlie," as he is known, was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on January 6, 1933. He was raised and educated there, graduating from the University of Michigan's Law School. After a brief career as an attorney he entered the seminary and was ordained a priest in 1967. Shortly thereafter he began an eleven-year ministry at St. Mary's Student Chapel in Ann Arbor. A rich variety of ministries followed including appointments to many advisory positions in the Church and three other pastorates. In the early 1970s he began writing columns for several Catholic newspapers in Michigan. In 1999 he was appointed founding editor of Faith magazine, published by the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan. Today, the magazine serves seven dioceses.

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Written by Fr Charles Irvin
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