“I came from the Father and have come into the world. Now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father” (Jn 16:28).
This phrase, in one form or another, has been a consistent message in John’s recording of Jesus’ farewell discourse. These words not only show Jesus’ connection to the Father through his coming from and returning to the Father and then his sending of the Holy Spirit, but these statements help to prepare the way for our understanding of the Trinitarian Communion.
Theologians have termed this reality the Immanent Trinity, God within himself. Which is expressed by the divine communion of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. All that God the Father is, he gives all, holding nothing back, to God the Son perfectly. God the Son receives all that God the Father has given perfectly, and returns all that he has received, holding nothing back, perfectly to God the Father. This giving and receiving, this going out from and returning to, this perfect willing of each other’s good, is the purest expression of Love. This Love shared infinitely and perfectly between God the Father and God the Son is God the Holy Spirit.
The Son of God became one with us, sharing in our humanity, so we can also share in his divinity. His ascent and return back to the Father makes this even more possible. Now his divine nature, as the Son, always remained in full communion with the Father. Jesus is one divine Person as the Son, yet he subsists in two natures the divine and the human. The Ascension of Jesus was a point in salvation history, in which the human nature of Jesus transcended our three-dimensional reality to enter the eternal present, the immanence of the Trinitarian communion, and because God created all humanity and creation as interconnected with one another, we are now able to share in the intimate, divine dance, or perichoresis, of the Love, shared between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
We are all invited, 24/7/365, with every breath, thought, word, and action, to experience the Holy Spirit, the communion of Trinitarian Love. But this is not an imposition, it is an invitation, meaning no matter how wonderful, no matter that this is what we have been created for and will truly bring us fulfillment and joy, we can reject or accept this offer.
Thankfully, because of the Divine Mercy of God this is an open invitation. Even if we have said no for years, we can say yes at this moment. Once we say yes, even just a little, the love of God grows within us, just like the image of the mustard seed. As we experience the love of God in our own lives, we begin to realize how God is the foundation of our being and all of creation.
We come to see how God is the foundation of all things, how he is present to us in our everyday actions when we participate in the very being and life of Jesus. We do so when we participate in the sacraments. Jesus is even more present to us in the sacraments than when he was present to the Apostles in person. We also experience and encounter God through our participation in the three transcendentals, the ways of our being that God has imparted to us to experience him, which are the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. It is through the expression of our creativity in music, dance, and the arts that we come to experience the Beautiful. By embracing our gift of reason and intellect, through prayer, study, and sharing of ideas, we come to know the True. In recognizing the gift of others as human, through our fellowship, loving and engaging one another in the corporeal and spiritual works of mercy we come to experience Love which leads us to the Good.
God has given us the wonderful gift of life not just to endure but to experience fully, even in the midst of our trials, tribulations, and sufferings. We just need to remember to open our hearts, minds, and souls to receive the gift of God working in and through us. Just as the Son has been, we are sent to risk, to give our love away, by sharing his love with others. Our offer can be turned down or rejected. Even so, we must resist the temptation to judge or to take offense, but instead to assume a posture of understanding, of being present, and being available to witness and to allow God to reach others through us. We never truly know the pain and suffering of another, nor what they may be dealing with. Instead of a knee-jerk reaction, we can instead take a deep breath and by seeking to be more understanding we might just be the healing presence that can make a difference.
Each one of us is on a journey. We are invited to open ourselves to the will of God, so we can experience the Good, the True, and the Beautiful so that we too can experience, perichoresis, the infinite dance of the Love shared between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Our fundamental option, our end goal, is to enter into the fullness of the divine dance and communion of the Trinity. What Jesus has brought to us through his Paschal Mystery; his life, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, is the reality of how we can experience heaven on earth right now. Our vocation is to say yes to God’s invitation to embrace the love of the Trinity so as to love others as we have been loved, for: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mk 1:15).
Photo: Blessed with a visit this week from three of my “daughters”, Newman class of ’21!