Have you ever met someone who’s in love with themselves? Someone who thinks they’re the best thing since sliced bread? Someone who thinks that the world just couldn’t do without them? I have, and I expect you’ve met people like that, too. They’re not really very pleasant because they love themselves so much that they never have time for anyone else. They can’t give love away, because they don’t have any left over. All very sad, because they don’t really know the meaning of love at all.
But I expect you’ve also met other people who really love someone else very much. Maybe you do. Perhaps your husband, or your wife, or your partner. And in this case, if your love is one hundred per cent you’ll always put them first.
One of the things about love like this, about real love, is that it just can’t exist unless it’s shared with someone else. And when you’re very close to another person like this you often know what they’re thinking before they actually say anything. Two people in love really do, as the song says, “become one”.
I want to tell you a story about a young couple called Peter and Elizabeth. I expect you know them.
Peter and Elizabeth were very much in love. They lived for each other, and their love could be seen very clearly from the way in which they gave themselves to each other. Peter always put Elizabeth first, and Elizabeth was exactly the same with Peter. They were, as we said just now, “two, become one”.
And so, there was great delight when their love for each other was fulfilled through the birth of a beautiful little boy. It was as though baby Jack was in himself, all that they meant to each other. He was in person, the love which Peter bore for Elizabeth and at the same time he was in person the love which Elizabeth was continually offering to Peter.
Jesus spoke of a relationship of love between himself and the God whom he called Father. A relationship which we can begin to understand a little bit, as we think about human relationships of love. Relationships like the one between Peter and Elizabeth and baby Jack.
In St John’s gospel, Jesus says “All that the Father has is mine”.
He also said:
“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father”
As well as:
“I am in the Father and the Father is in me”
So, St John’s gospel tells us, time after time, that Jesus shows us God as he really is, and as he always has been. Through Jesus we see into the hidden heart of Almighty God. The life of Jesus shows us what God is like in a way which we can understand.
The God whom we worship, before he’s anything else, is love. And love can’t exist by itself. The love which we see between Jesus, and his heavenly father, shows us in human terms, the love which is at the very heart of God, – the love which is God.
This is why we can say that from all eternity the Father begets the Son in order that he might give himself away in love. And this Son responds by continually giving himself back in love to his Father. And the way in which this takes place is through the Holy Spirit, the love in person, of the Father and the Son for each other
Our faith is that this Son of God, who’s outside of our time, entered time and became human in the body of Mary.
So, as we look at Jesus, our understanding of love helps us to see just how the love which Jesus shows for the God whom he calls Father, represents in our history, the love begun by God before time was created.
So to say that God is love and that God is Trinity actually turns out to be two ways of saying the same thing.
This teaching of God as three in one will always remain a mystery. But it’s given to us, not so that we might explain away, or nail God down. It’s given to us by God who’s come into our human world, shown himself to us and invited us to know him as he really is.
That’s what the Gospels are about. They show us in a particular human life what God is like. They show us in the life of Jesus, the love between Father and Son, given and received through the Spirit.
We can’t know what it must have been like for Jesus to have been so filled with God’s Spirit that the Father’s life and presence saturated him.
But because Jesus was human, we do know that the way in which the Holy Spirit lives in us must be of the same pattern.
So, just as the Father and the Son find their oneness through love. God intends us to find our unity in the same way. We are created to give ourselves away to each other and to become one in self-giving love. We are created in the image of God.
And what a mess we’ve made! Just consider how in your own life you’ve refused to be the image of the living God by turning away from self-giving; by holding a grudge, or by refusing reconciliation.
And then give thanks to the Father and the Son. The Son who took flesh, became human and offered himself on our behalf in an act of total self-giving to the Father on the cross.
An act which released the Spirit of self giving love into the world to remake men and women in their relationships to God and to each other.
We are all the product of God’s love. We are all very precious to Him. He loves us all equally and doesn’t have any favourites.
God became man in Jesus, so that in Jesus we could become joined to God. That’s the meaning of the love of God.
A love which is so big that He gives Himself away to us in Jesus so that our lives might become one with His. So that we might actually share in His divinity. So that through the Holy Spirit we might share in the love which the Father and the Son have for each other.
So that we might share in the love of the Holy Trinity whose special day we are remembering today.