Real Love Is Trinitarian: Why Our Love Must Be Generative (Gospel Reflection)

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One of the best ways to enrich your experience at Sunday Mass is to pray the Mass Readings personally and to meditate on a Gospel reflection.

A great way of doing this is using the technique of Lectio Divina, a powerful method which we explain here. The following is the Sunday Gospel reading with a reflection that is especially aimed at youth.


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This week, Fr. Piccolo reflects on John 3:16-18, the Gospel reading for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.

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 the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity (John 3: 16-18)

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.


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The Gospel of the Lord

Gospel Reflection:

The ancient Greek myths often express the universal fears and desires of man in a hidden way, through poetry.

The goddess Athena, for example, was born as an adult from the head of Zeus: perhaps hidden in this image is the desire to evade the responsibility and trouble of raising a baby through to adulthood. Athena is, in fact, the product of Zeus’ head – of his mind and his ideas. And it is true that many times parents project onto their children their own expectations and they would like them to be exactly what they think of them.

Such is human love: it often hides a certain narcissism and love of oneself. Just as Athena is the product of the mind of Zeus, we too often seek the fulfillment of our personal plans in others.

To further clarify the idea, the myth tells us that Athena was generated out of fear: Zeus lay with Metis, the goddess of wisdom and prudence. Then fear symbolically devoured prudence. Fearful of a prophecy that said that the children of Metis would be more powerful than any man, Zeus decides to swallow Metis. This image shows us what a relationship of fusion is: when we are interested only in ourselves, we try to devour the other out of fear of losing ourselves.

We cannot stand competition and the consequences of love can become especially intolerable. Zeus, like many men, obligates Metis to let herself be swallowed up: he tricked her into becoming a bead (or in other variations, a fly or a cricket) and he swallowed her.

In this myth, to generate is the only way to free oneself from a problem. In fact, Metis had already conceived Athena and, according to the myth, once Zeus had eaten her, she began making a helmet and robe for her daughter. In order to free himself from the incredible headache caused by Metis’ hammer strikes while forging the helmet, Zeus had Hephaestus open his head with an ax, allowing Athena to come out. The generation of Athena’s generation was undesired by Zeus but it was needed for his own wellbeing.

This is human love when ONE person seeks his interests only, or at most, TWO, in which one devours the other. On it’s own, this is what human love is like. Today’s Gospel however proposes a different kind of love, a Trinitarian love, divine love that we too can love with, the only true love.

Our faith teaches us that the Father and the Son are two distinct persons. It is not a relationship of fusion like that of Zeus and Metis. The Son is generated, not created. That means that he is desired and loved from all time; he is not an accident that comes to be unintentionally. The Son is the eternal desire of the Father. There is an unbreakable bond between the Father and the Son, and yet the Son is sent out, he leaves the Father’s house and lives through the experience of solitude and silence, giving himself over for others.

True love can never be a closed relationship because it would become a love incapable of generating. Genesis speaks to us through the story of Abraham and Sarah who are closed in their tent and isolated in their disappointment. They are the ones that will be visited by three travelers under the oaks of Mamre, drawing them out of the solitude of their tent – of their relationship of fusion. These travelers tell Abraham and Sarah that they too can participate in a love that generates.

It is precisely for this reason that our God, who is Love, cannot be ONE or TWO, but is a God in three persons, a God of true love, a generative love. The Spirit is the love between the Father and the Son, the love that is given, the love that comes from the relationship and makes it present. It is the love that is fecund, that is continually opening to the other and never closes. The Spirit is the relationship between the Father and the Son that welcomes, receives and never runs out.

Love is Trinitarian or it is not love. If our love does not generate more than migraines it is probably not love at all.

If one devours the other in order to make him or her disappear, that is not love. The book of Genesis always has its guard up against any kind of love in which the other person becomes a possession or a blinding obsession. This is the story of Abraham, who is so completely fixed on his son Isaac that he can see nothing else. He even forgets He who gave him his son. Abraham will be called to reorder his heart, that is, to distance himself from his son so that their relationship is not one of fusion but one of generation.

Trinity is thus the true name of love: love that is not folded over oneself or destruction of the other, but love that generates. Far too often our love finds itself incapable of counting to more than two!

Questions for Personal Meditation:

  • Who is the protagonist of your relationships?
  • Do your relationships give life to the other or are they suffocating?

About Fr. Gaetano Piccolo

Fr. Gaetano Piccolo has written 41 post in this blog.

A Jesuit priest, I am originaly from Napoli. I am now living in Rome and teaching philosophy at the Gregorian University.

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