The Rector writes…

I have some sympathy with the preacher who ascended the pulpit steps on the feast of the Blessed Trinity, said “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit” three times and then left the pulpit. What more is there to say about the essential truth of Christian faith? The triune nature of the Godhead is something we accept as having been revealed by God of himself. Human imagination on its own could never have come to this understanding. It is only through the incarnation in our humanity of the Second Person of the Trinity that we are given insights which, unaided, we could never have perceived. “In Jesus Christ, God was himself made man and allowed us, so to speak, to cast a glimpse at the intimacy of God himself. And there we see something totally unexpected. The Mysterious God is not infinite loneliness: he is an event of love” (Benedict XV1). With all the razzmatazz of Christmas already appearing in our immediate locality it is good that we should keep this “event of love” at the centre of our minds: it is “the reason for the season”.

Tradition tells us that Saint John was the youngest of the first disciples and the one nearest to the heart of Jesus. In his writings, and most especially in his letters, John speaks a great deal about love, and he makes clear that we only have the capacity to love because we are first loved. “This is the love I mean; not our love for God, but God’s love for us when he sent his Son to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away”, and again, “everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Anyone who fails to love can never have known God, because God is love”. What we are being taught here is that the Divine love is the source of all other loving and that, if we can speak in this way, God makes a gift of his love to us so that we can accept the gift and make it our own before extending it to others. As with Jesus’ parable of the sower, the seed of charity is flung far and wide, and some does fall into good soil and produce a fruitful harvest “some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred fold”.

When we have any experience of loving, or genuineness in giving ourselves selflessly to another person, or of caring for one of our brothers and sisters, then something of the creativity of God’s own love is a reality for us. Whenever we love, or try to love, we gain insight into the inner nature of God. The “event of love” is the ongoing communication which eternally expresses itself in the love of the Father for the Son, and vice versa, personified in the life of the Holy Spirit. Thus the Church speaks to us of the Godhead being solitary – in the sense of a complete sufficiency within itself – but not alone – because there is a community of Persons at the heart of everything that has existence. What God has chosen to reveal about himself through his Son (and we could not have known it otherwise) is that just as human beings only become fully human in their interrelation with each other, so there is an interaction which defines the Divinity itself.

As Saint John says in the opening of his first letter: “something which has existed from the beginning, that we have heard, and that we have seen with our own eyes, that we have watched and touched with our own hands: the Word who is life- this is our subject“. Everything that is, the whole created order, in all its complexity, in all its sheer size and magnificence, in all its amazing beauty, is an overflow of the energy of love generated by the Persons of the Trinity. That “event of love” which is the Godhead is eternally valid and is to be discovered present within the human heart. As Jesus said: “if you love me, you will keep my word, and my Father will love you, and we will come to you and make our home with you”. Saint Teresa of Avila offers timely advice: “Let nothing trouble you: let nothing frighten you. Everything passes: God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God wants for nothing: God alone suffices”. Sufficient in himself: sufficient for us: “God alone suffices”.

Christopher Colven