From the Cross to the Trinity
The entire Most Holy Trinity is involved in Love and by Love with the Cross of Christ. Many antique pictures represent the Father’s arms holding the Crucifix. For example in Masaccio’s painting (in the church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence) the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove is between the head of the Father and the head of Christ crowned by thorns. It is true! Between the Father and the Son there is a mysterious communion of love. For this reason Jesus from the cross could ask without hesitation: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” (Lk 23:34). Between Father and Son there is a mysterious spiritual communion of Love! For this reason the dying Jesus could declare with filial trust: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Lk 23:46). From this moment the humanity of Christ, permeated by the act of Love that unites from eternity the Son to the Father, has become a source of filial life for all the ones who open themselves to Jesus in the humility of faith: “But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God”. (Jn 1:12-13)
If God is like that, if this is the true way in which He saves us (and I assure you that is true!) Trinity is not a faraway mystery of no consequence in our life. These three divine persons are “intimate” in our life. They are not beside us like a wife, a husband, children or friends, but inside us. They “live in us” (Jn 14:23).
Saint Francis of Assisi gives us a big example of how the Cross is the way to the Trinity. Contemplating the Word incarnated and crucified, the great Saint lived the love of the God-Trinity that donates himself to him and answered back with complete dedication.
Changed in his heart, Saint Francis became similar to Christ even with his body receiving the stigmata. Taken by the Spirit among the lepers, the Saint of Assisi shared the mercy that he had received from the Father full of mercy. Saint Francis understood and now makes us understand that the death of Christ is the gift that He makes of his Spirit. If Christ gives us his Spirit we become members of Christ and live his Presence.
On the Cross, Jesus gave his Spirit but at that time only few received it because only few (the Virgin, Saint John and Mary Magdalene) had stayed by the Cross. On the day of the Resurrection when He entered into the Supper-room, He gave it to the twelve:
“Receive the Holy Spirit”. Then He gave it to the Church on the day of Pentecost: “It will spread on all” said Saint Peter. It is a continuous growing of the gift, the same that had been given even to us and that makes us “Temple of the Trinity”.
The God nearby
The liturgy of today’s Mass reminds us that God is not an impersonal God detached and far away from us. “Merciful and gracious is the LORD, slow to anger, abounding in mercy” (Ps 103:8), “gracious and merciful and abounding in love and fidelity” (Ex 34:6). The Lord doesn’t despise the dust of which we are made, but feeds us with mercy and forgiveness. Let’s proclaim with great joy: Blessed be God, the Father and his only Son and the Holy Spirit because God is the Father that has loved us so much that He offered us his Son and gave us his Spirit so that we can recognize God as infinite love.
Nothing is more true, reviving and consoling for us than the presence of the Holy Trinity in our life. Nothing can be, act or become perfect without the three divine Persons, without God. Saint Paul doesn’t hesitate to assert that “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 18:28)
God is near but we think that He is far away. He is into reality and into all the things and we look for Him in dreams and in impossible utopias.
The true secrets to enter in relationship with God are simplicity of heart and poverty of spirit, two attitudes that are frustrated by pride, wealth and craftiness. Jesus had said: “unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3) which means “if you will not be near me”. He was not joking or making fun of us. To see or not to see God depends on our eyes. If we have pure eyes we see Him; if we have impure and malevolent eyes we do not see Him. If sometimes we forget Him because of distraction or superficiality, pain and mystery reminds us of His presence. Mystery continuously surrounds us but it is a mystery of love. It is like our mother’s womb that has kept us and has given us life.
What is more true and simpler than the womb of a woman that holds a child? How to grasp the mystery of the One who loves us?
The easiest way is to be innocent, clever and wise like children. In them there is a basic intuition given by God. However it is not enough to be little, we must also be poor. Be careful because in the Gospel to be little doesn’t mean to be crying babies or immature. To be poor doesn’t mean to wear shabby garments, broken shoes and to live in a shack. Little – in the Christian meaning – is the one who doesn’t put his confidence in what he is or in what he has but has trust in the paternity of God. Poor is the one who doesn’t consider idols what he possesses, on the contrary he feels that nothing can satisfy him except God-Love.
Trinity: a mystery that reveals God to us and reveals also who we are.
The most important thing towards Trinity is not to speculate on the mystery but to remain in the faith of the Church that is the “boat” that takes us to Trinity.
We are taken to a god that is “Lover (Father), Loved one (Son) and Love ( Holy Spirit)” (Saint Augustine). God is love and dialogue not only because He loves us and speaks to us, but also because He is a dialogue of love. This fact not only renews our understanding of God, but also the truth of our being. If the Bible continuously repeats that we must live in love, in dialogue and in communion it is because we are “image of God”. For the Christian person who knows that God is Father Son and Holy Spirit, to encounter God, to have experience of God, to speak of God and to give praise to God means to live in a constant dimension of love, dialogue and gift. Trinity is a truly luminous mystery. In revealing God, the Trinity has revealed who we are.
We find a big help to understand this revelation in the example of the consecrated Virgins. In practicing the evangelical advice of chastity, obedience and poverty these women that have given themselves entirely to God live with a particular intensity the Trinitarian nature that characterizes Christian life. The chastity of the virgins as manifestation of their dedication to God with anxiety about the things of the Lord (1 Cor 7:32-34) is a reflection of the infinite love that ties the three divine Persons into the mysterious intensity of the Trinitarian life. Their poverty lived following the example of Christ, who “became poor although he was rich” (2 Cor 8:9), becomes an expression of the total gift of himself that the three divine Persons give to each other. Their obedience carried out following the example of Christ whose food was to do the Father’s will (Jn 4:34), manifests the liberating beauty of a filial dependence not a slavish one, enriched by a sense of responsibility and animated by mutual trust that is the reflection of the loving correspondence of the three divine Persons. (John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Vita Consecrata, 21).
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Prv 8:22-31; Ps 8; Rom 5:1-5; Jn 16:12-15
Gen18:1-10a; Ps 104: 1Cir 12:2-6; Jn 14:21-26
Monsignor Francesco Follo is permanent observer of the Holy See to UNESCO, Paris.