Every year we dedicate one day to the central mystery of our faith: the Blessed Trinity. With the Gift of the Holy Spirit, in which God Himself is thus poured into our hearts, we are able to profess that Jesus Christ, who is the fulness of revelation, is also Lord, that is, the one God Himself who has in these last days revealed His own internal mystery to us. This mystery is profoundly important for us because it is the foundation of everything: who we are, what we believe, the meaning of life, the existence of the universe.
Looking for an image of the Trinity on earth is easy in some ways (anything with three equal but united parts, such as a clover), but it is also in some ways very difficult, since every analogy falls short in its comparison particulary since God is certainly greater than this world he created. However, the family is a great place to look to see the Trinity present. Pope John Paul II tells us that the primordial model of the family is to be sought in God himself, in the Trinitarian mystery of his life. [LF #6]
This comes from the 1994 Letter to Families that I can guarantee is longer than any letter any of us has ever written. It expresses his love and concern for the family, seen also in that he declared 1994 a special Year for the Family. I strongly recommend you read this letter in its entirety, perhaps using it as a method of prayer for two or three weeks. Much of it is drawn from his earlier encyclical on the family in 1981, Familiaris Consortio. From that encyclical I would like us to reflect on how the Trinity informs our family life.
First, because of the Trinity we are Called to Love: God created man in his own image and likeness: calling him to existence through love, he called him at the same time for love. … As an incarnate spirit,..., man is called to love in his unified totality. Love includes the human body, and the body is made a sharer in spiritual love... It is realized in a truly human way only if it is an integral part of the love by which a man and a woman commit themselves totally to one another until death...The only "place" in which this self-giving in its whole truth is made possible is marriage, the covenant of conjugal love freely and consciously chosen, whereby man and woman accept the intimate community of life and love willed by God himself, which only in this light manifests its true meaning. [#11] This is why the Church emphatically discourages cohabitation: you can't “pretend” marriage – you are either absolutely committed, or you are not.
- Forming a Community of Persons: The unity of God manifests itself in the family, starting with spouses. All members of the family, each according to his or her own gift, have the grace and responsibility of building day by day the communion of persons, making the family "a school of deeper humanity": This happens where there is care and love for the little ones, the sick, the aged; where there is mutual service every day; when there is a sharing of goods, of joys and of sorrows. [# 21]
- Serving Life: The life-giving example of the Trinity is modeled in the family by accepting life as a gift, protecting it, nurturing it at all times (even beyond).
- Development of Society: drawing others into the communion it shares.The human family, disunited by sin, is reconstituted in its unity by the redemptive power of the death and resurrection of Christ. Christian marriage, by participating in the salvific efficacy of this event, constitutes the natural setting in which the human person is introduced into the great family of the church. [#15]
- Sharing in Life and Mission of the Church – building up God's Kingdom
JPII then outlines four main tasks for the family:
By virtue of the sacramentality of their marriage, spouses are bound to one another in the most profoundly indissoluble manner. Their belonging to each other is the real representation, by means of the sacramental sign, of the very relationship of Christ with the church. Spouses are therefore the permanent reminder to the church of what happened on the cross; they are for one another and for the children witnesses to the salvation in which the sacrament makes them sharers. [#13]
Since the married couple manifests to the world the free, total, and unending love of Christ the bridegroom for his one and only bride, the Church, they are drawn to the Eucharistic banquet in a more powerful way: it is here in Holy Communion, if spouses choose to abandon themselves to our Lord Jesus hidden in this sacrament, where they will find the witness to and support for their own married love.
Finally, we let John Paul II conclude: I entrust each family to Our Lord Jesus, to Mary and to Joseph. To their hands and their hearts I offer this exhortation: May they present to you, beloved sons and daughters, and may they open your hearts to the light that the Gospel sheds on every family.
Blessed Trinity, teach us to love in our families.