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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anthony Lilles

The Trinity and Real Love

It is a false friendship when one friend dominates another. Some think that the nature of God is so overwhelming that as we approach it, there is no space for our humanity. For them, humanity is completely consumed and absorbed by the divine. Others think that the Divine Nature is so transcendent and totally 'other', there is no way really to relate to it intimately. Relationship with God is a kind of external contractual thing - a master-slave relationship. But these attitudes are not Christian. Our faith tells us that the Lord is constantly coming to us in new ways extending the most intimate of friendships because he wants us to thrive - not in the material sense, but spiritually so that all the powers of our freedom, intellectual and emotional capacities realize their full potential -and we become most fully ourselves. This is what real friendship does and this is what God wants in our friendship with Him. Real love leaves space for the other give oneself in love to another and at the same time to possess the other in his or her own freedom. This kind of love characterizes the inner-life of the Trinity. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit bound in one nature and one love do not absorb or dominate each other. In their one love, each Divine Person has the freedom to love within the unique subsistant relation He enjoys. We have come to understand the Divine Persons in terms of subsistent relations because their mutual relations as Father, Son and Holy Spirit eternally subsist in their One Divine Nature. In other words, Divine Nature is relational with itself. It is precisely because God enjoys eternal relations in his very being, precisely because God is Trinity, that real love is eternal. Real love requires real relationship - and true relations require persons, a free personal center in a free relation to another. In the case of God, the Divine Persons share the same freedom, the same real eternal love, according to their true relations as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If God were not in his very Nature relational from all eternity, love itself would not be eternal. Love would merely be a by product of creation. Yet in passionate love, there is something that looks to the eternal, that yearns to overcome the limits of time and space, to have perfect unity with another. It is with good reason that poets like Dante have seen in this human experience an opening to something Divine that preceded it. Indeed, human love is the creation of a real Divine Yearning that preceded it in power and existence. The Divine Persons yearn for and enjoy the fruition of communion with one another in their One Nature and out of this one Nature this Divine Yearning is the source for all that is.

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