Divine family roles serve as example to contemporary society

Father John A. Kiley

Ponder the threats to traditional marriage that contemporary society is experiencing nowadays.

Consider not only the menace of same-sex marriage but also the more widespread hazards of divorce, single parenthood, cohabitation and abuse. Since traditional marriage is the very foundation of society, it might have been appropriate if God had revealed himself to mankind under the pleasing triple symbolism of husband, wife and child. Imagine looking at the traditional family unit of dad, mom and the kids and seeing an immediate reflection of the inner life of God. First person of the Trinity loving the second person of the Trinity; second person of the Trinity loving the first person of the Trinity in return; the third person of the Trinity being the very embodiment of this love.

The human family as a reflection of the divine family is not too far fetched. What an exaltation of traditional home life this might have been.

And yet, as believers well know, God did not reveal himself to mankind as husband, wife and child, but rather as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This deliberate and focused revelation should not be overlooked by the faithful. God as Father, Son and Spirit is especially worthy of thoughtful consideration as the Catholic world celebrates the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity this Sunday.

Even though the nuptial relationship is very loving and intimate, God did not reveal the Blessed Trinity to mankind under the guise of husband, wife and child because in the divine plan God’s spouse was to be the Church, not his Son. The Church is the unique bride of Christ which the Son will present to the Father redeemed and renewed, without stain or wrinkle or blemish of any sort. God through Christ fulfills the Church, completes the Church, leads the Church to its full potential, as earthly spouses do for one another. Such fulfilling complementarity is the traditional role of husband and wife. Spouses complete one another. They fulfill one another. They maximize one another’s potential. A husband becomes more of a man because of his wife’s feminine love; a wife becomes more of a woman because of her husband’s masculine love. Man and woman, husband and wife, need one another to arrive at the peak of their promise. The spousal bond is a complementary relationship.

In the triune godhead, the Father, the Son and the Spirit are not complementary. The Father is fully God, sharing the divine nature completely and perfectly. The Son is fully God, sharing the Divine nature completely and perfectly. Both Father and Son, and the Spirit as well, are perfect. The Father adds nothing to the Son; the Son adds nothing to the Father. All three are fully divine. Consequently, as the Gospels relate, those who see the Son see also the Father. Those who listen to the Son hear the words of the Father. The works of the Son are the works of the Father. The Son, then, is the image of the Father, the reflection of the Father, the likeness of the Father. In embracing the Son, believers embrace the Father. In heeding the Son, the faithful heed the Father. In accepting the Son, the Church accepts the Father. The Spirit likewise bears total witness to the Son, not announcing a new message but bringing to mind teachings the Son has already voiced. The Trinity then is the continuous sharing of the one divine nature. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are indeed three distinct personalities yet they operate from that one divine nature that is God. The Trinity does not connote complementarity so much as it signifies continuity. The triune God is eternally and continuously one perfect being. God cannot be enhanced or complemented. He is already and always perfectly fulfilled.

God wisely exalted the complementarity of husband and wife in a spousal relationship as his prime emblem signifying his relationship with the Church through Christ. But God with equal wisdom preserved the perfect continuity of the godhead by revealing himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, eternally distinct, yet eternally sharing one divine nature and eternally announcing one saving message.