Monday, July 11, 2011

The Trinity: Why Bother?

Being made in the image of God means that the human person is a being of word and of love, a being moving toward Another, oriented toward giving himself to the Other and only truly receiving himself back in real self-giving.

Reflection – What difference does the Trinity make, anyway? (The doctrine, that is, not the reality.) Many Christians would be unable to give a coherent answer to that question, let alone a coherent account of what it even means to say that God is three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
What difference does it make? Why bother with this difficult dogma? This very brief quote of Ratzinger’s points to an answer. While the Trinity is an unfathomable and infinite mystery, which even in heaven we will never exhaust, our Scriptures and our theological tradition has spoken of the Son as the Word, the perfect self-knowledge of God, and of the Spirit as the perfect love emanating forth from the Father’s perfect knowledge of the Son and the Son’s reciprocal knowledge of the Father.
The Scriptural testimony of humanity being made in the image of God, then, means that we are made in the image of the Trinity – made to know and to love, made to receive and to give. That the human person is not a closed off fortress, an autonomous self made to grab and grasp and consume as much of the world’s riches as possible. Rather, he is known by God, made to know God, loved by God, made to love God. An inherently relational creature, whose very being is only found and made comprehensible in this constant circle of gift, reception, and gift.
God as Trinity, taken together with man as made in the image of God breaks us out of the terrible burden of competition, self-aggrandizement, and isolation. The two together reveal to us that at the deepest depths of reality, of Being, is relation, communion, love, and that out of this flows glory, delight, beauty, and joy. The Trinity reveals to us that infinite happiness, found in a communion of persons, is at the heart of all that is. That’s the difference it makes.

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