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The Trinity and the Children of God

The Trinity is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Three persons; one God. Distinct and the same. In the Creed we state that the Son is consubstantial with the Father, which means made of the same substance or essence, yet each person of the Trinity has an identity and a separate role.  

As I write, it is a rainy day in Lower Hutt, and one of my teenagers has covid. She’s fairly sick, but incredibly hungry. I find myself preparing food and washing up in a cycle that reminds me of life when I was at home full-time with two small children. I had almost forgotten what it is like to be needed.  

I am very close to my two daughters as, for many years, life was just the three of us. We often speak of our ‘bubble’ that excludes the rest of the world. All three of us are different in personality and talents, yet we are connected in a way that is undeniable. I love them without limit, and I am pretty certain they love me too, even though they find my typing too slow to tolerate and they frequently inform me that I need to “chill Bruh.”  

Yet we have the same nose, the same sense of humour, and the same smarts. We are so intertwined by familiarity and love that it is impossible to imagine the absence of any one of us. That of course will change over time, but that was how it was when they were little, and how it is right now, this perfect trinity of us.  

I imagine it is the same for your family. Maybe this is how you feel about your brothers, or parents, or a group of friends who you have been blessed to find? Maybe that stage of your life has passed, or it is yet to come? For me it raises the questions: what can we learn about family life from what we believe about the Trinity? What can we learn about the Trinity from family life?  

Saint Augustine spent a long time thinking and writing about the Trinity. He said the nature of the Trinity is made up of “he that loves, and that which is loved, and love.” (De Trinitate) 

We can identify the different persons in Augustine’s description - the Father, the Son, and the Spirit - and instinct urges me to compare this to my little whanau, especially as there are three of us, but this comparison is flawed, or rather, severely limited.  

When I look at my family, it is only true that we are loved, and we love. However, none of us are actually ourselves love. Clearly. That is something else. We love, but we are not love.  

It is only the Trinity that provides the complete picture of the experience of love.  

Love is found in God and, if we are to follow Augustine's words, in the person of the Holy Spirit. I believe that the Spirit is at work in us whether we realise it or not. Each moment we love, God is at work.  

The letter to the Romans reminds us that we are all children of God, so I find myself thinking about the young family who live next door, and the elderly lady on the other side. We are not related, but we are connected, and we are made of the same substance: crazy tiny vibrating atoms actually (not the scientific term). In this case, I should not be quite so keen to hold onto our ‘bubble’.

What if we treated our neighbours in the same loving way that we treat our children? What if we learn to love our neighbours with the same love found in the Trinity? If we look at each other as if we are consubstantial - people of different races, nationalities, social standing, gender, and lifestyle choices - what would the world look like then? 

We can ask the Spirit, who is love, to help us to love. What better way to celebrate love on Trinity Sunday?  

“The spirit himself and our spirit bear united witness that we are children of God.” Romans 8:16

Today's Readings: Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40     Psalm 32      Romans 8:14-17     Matthew 28:16-20 

Source: This Sunday

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