The selflessness of the Trinity


Several years ago I read a wonderful opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal entitled, “The Stories My Father Told.” In the article, Michael Judge, who writes about art and culture for the Journal, reflects upon his father’s life: how he was raised in the depression era; how he always tried to better himself, getting a good education and later going on to be successful in business; how he experienced suffering in his life through the death of two sons and a divorce; how he encouraged people to do random acts of kindness; how he worked to help those with mental illness. And finally, how, in the days before his death, he called his children to his bedside and told them, “I love to give.”

“I love to give.” These words perfectly encapsulate the essence of the Holy Trinity, the solemnity we celebrate this Sunday. We hear it in the book of Exodus as the Lord reveals himself to Moses as a merciful, gracious, kind and faithful God. We hear it in the Gospel of John (3:16) as Jesus tells us that God loves us so much that he gave his only Son to save us.

On Trinity Sunday we celebrate the central mystery of our Faith: Three persons in one God. It is a mystery so incomprehensible that we will not fully grasp it until we are with the Lord in eternity. But what we can understand is that the Trinity is a communion of persons. The Trinity is a family and there is no selfishness in the Trinity, only complete selflessness and giving. The Father gives himself in love to the Son; the Son gives himself in love to the Father; and through this mutual self-gift, the Holy Spirit is given in love to us.

We are created in the image and likeness of God. We imitate God most perfectly when we live selflessly. Because of Original Sin, however, we all have a tendency to be selfish; but we know, from experience, that we can’t be selfish and happy at the same time. The only way to be truly happy is to imitate the Trinity by giving ourselves in loving service.

I witnessed an example of this when, four years ago, I, along with some students and faculty from La Salle, had the privilege of spending a week in Jamaica at an orphanage for mentally and physically challenged children. It was an amazing week. Our students were truly happy, truly changed, because their entire focus was on serving these children.

We have been created in the image of the Trinity who loves to give. On Trinity Sunday, ask yourself: What can I do to imitate the Trinity’s love? Can I volunteer for my church? Give more to charity? Visit the sick in our neighborhoods or families? Spend more time in prayer?

God loves to give and we imitate God best when we live selflessly. So let’s do it!

Father Michael Najim is Spiritual Director of Our Lady of Providence Seminary, Providence, as well as Catholic Chaplain at LaSalle Academy, Providence.