The Mystery of the Trinity: Why True Love Always Requires Three (Jn 16)
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One of the best ways to enrich your experience at Sunday Mass is to pray the gospel reading personally. A great way of doing this is using the “Lectio Divina”; this is a powerful method which we explain here. The following is the Sunday gospel reading with a reflection that is especially aimed at youth.
We hope that it serves you in your personal prayer and that it serves as a resource that you can share with your apostolate.
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Gospel of Solemnity Of The Most Holy Trinity (Jn 16:12-15)
Jesus said to his disciples: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming.
He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”
What is love? This is the question of philosophers and lovers, the question of those who have been betrayed or disappointed. What is love? It is the question of those who are still seeking meaning in their lives and do not find peace, the question of the mother that waits for a son that does not find his way home again. Why is it that we ask ourselves far more often if one day we’ll find someone that truly loves us, rather than asking if we will ever learn to love truly?
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What is love? We are always unprepared when faced with this question, mostly because we don’t deal well with the mathematics of love.
There are those for whom love is only about the number one. For them love does not ask questions; it only speaks with affirmations. They only conjugate the verb “to love” in the first person, and its always followed with a defiant reflexive pronoun: I love myself!
There are those who only see themselves when thinking of love. Every relationship is merely instrumental to their affirmation. Every partner is like a prey to be captured and flaunted. Every relationship is measured in terms of personal satisfaction. As children either they would sit in the corner waiting for someone to notice them or they would burst out violently demanding total attention to their needs.
These lovers of their individuality never ask themselves what is happening in the hearts of others, nor do they think of giving up a little bit of space in their own to make room for the desires of others.
If you’ve studied that mathematics of love, you know the benefits of two. But in life so often we remain trapped in an obsessive cycle of affirmation and questioning: “I love you! Do you love me?” And we spend our whole lives annoyingly reaffirming our love while asking ourselves, perplexed and skeptical, if the other person truly loves us.
We become complete prisoners of reciprocity, where every gesture, every word, every caress, must be compensated. The world closes in on us like a tent, like Abraham and Sarah in the book of Genesis. We become incapable of generating new life, and yet we empty ourselves of what little love we carry with us.
The lovers of two are theorists of possession. Their objective is the own the other and in reality the lovers of two are merely collectionists of one: the other is just an extension of oneself.
But when we discover love, we feel unstable, we lose our balance, because love is excess and loss. It is donation and risk. This is the reason love cannot be a thing of one or even two.
When we discover love, the reflexive pronouns disappear from the grammar of the heart. There are only active transitive verbs: love goes by without turning back.
Love is a thing of the vine and the branches: you aren’t sure where it comes from nor where it will take you, but it’s there. It’s life running through you; there is an energy that flows silently, without pretenses of being recognized, like the rose that blooms without need of ever being seen.
Love splits the twosome because it destroys the pretenses of reciprocity and conflict: we no longer need to measure each other’s love. Love is a benevolent teacher that has no need to be continually checking his student’s work. Love is like a shepherd that never closes the gate. He simply watches over the sheep so that no one does them harm.
True love can only be Trinitarian. If we haven’t learned to count passed two, we have never learned to truly love.
Trinitarian love, the love that is disequilibrium and gift, does not belong to God alone. We have been created in His image, and therefore we are capable of loving as He loves. Let us walk towards this fullness of love. To live is to learn to love in this way; it is to learn to count to three.