Notions and expressions of a Trinitarian God are infused in most everything we do as Christians. But let’s be honest: any attempts to understand God’s inner-life always fall short. But also, we might wonder how it’s even relevant to our human existence. What does this Divine Mystery have to do with me, my family, my friendships, my problems, my accomplishments, my mortgage, my job or anything else?
Actually, it has everything to do with human existence and human experience. It says a whole lot about us, because that mystery that is the dynamic communion of the three Divine Persons, lives within each of us. We are told that “God said: Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness” (Gen 1:26). This likeness isn’t so much physical, but instead spiritual. It’s a likeness each of us bears, regardless of how well we comprehend it and regardless of whether or not it matters to us.
I ask you to think of your body and soul as having a theology unto itself. As John Paul II said, your body is a living sign of the mystery of God that has been hidden in God for eternity (TOB).
So bearing that in mind, consider a couple more things. First, consider that understanding of the Most Holy Trinity that we declare in the Creed: that the Father begat the Son. And from that moment, the two of them existed in a powerful and dynamic exchange of love that spilled forth, generating the life we call the Holy Spirit: ….who proceeds from the Father and the Son. It’s not too hard to see how that’s reflected in the loving union between man and woman, and the children that can be generated from that union. God created them in his image; male and female he created them. God blessed them and His very first command to them was to be fruitful and multiply (Gen 1:27). The life of the Holy Trinity—the inner mystery of God—is inherently reflected in marriage and the human family.
But secondly, consider a common theme in the Scriptures as a whole: marriage. It begins with Adam and Eve. She was bone of his bones, flesh of his flesh, each completed the other. The texts of Scripture refer to Eve as his wife, saying that in their marriage they become one body (Gen 2:23-24). His wife; not his girlfriend or friend with benefits—his wife. A close reading of those creation texts reveals that marriage was the very reason God created two distinct genders, male and female.
But the Bible also ends with marriage. In the Book of Revelation, St. John envisions our future: “I saw a new heaven and a new earth…coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband….’” (Rev 21:1-3). God’s ultimate plan is to make a marriage of Himself to humankind.
All of it tells us that our bodies, these living signs of the mystery of God were made for love, here and now, but also and ultimately, in eternity. And as is true with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, true love instinctively aspires to be shared, to be in loving communion. There’s a particular form of love, reflected in the Holy Trinity, that we call marriage. Having said that, I realize that love, sex and marriage have become thorny subjects that have us wondering what is true.
To be clear, every person needs intimacy, to give and receive love—whether young, old, married, divorced, widowed, single, celibate, or attracted to the same sex. God put that desire in us all. And furthermore, despite God’s beautiful plan for love and marriage, our desires lead to responses that aren’t always healthy and appropriate ways of expressing love. As is true with our appetites for food, so is our appetite for expressing love.
But not all love, even healthy love, necessarily constitutes marriage. Just as the reality of God as three divine Persons is something very distinct, so is human marriage. God who has revealed Himself to us as three Divine Persons, did not asking us to re-invent Him. Nor did He asked us to do so with His gift of marriage.
If marriage and family are at the very heart of our sharing in the life of the Holy Trinity, and even the very building block of human society, it should come as little surprise that the devil would want to weaken it. And for sure, he has. That too many marriages don’t last , and that too marriages that seem to be merely enduring: life-draining, rather than life-giving—we may well see marriage as a failed institution. But like all things of God’s design—human existence itself, our Church, human sexuality—like those things, marriage is God’s creation, not ours. The solution does not lie in abandoning it, like some failed experiment. Our task is to redeem it, restore it, to hold it up high.
On this solemnity, we reflect upon and celebrate the truth that God, who lives within Himself as a life-giving exchange of love, who has patterned our hearts for love, is Himself undying love and He desires to draw us into marital covenant with Him in heaven. This Mass is a foretaste of our wedding feast. In the meantime, you and I are called to reflect that love in our lives, our families and our marriages, through the beautiful mystery that lives within each human being, the mystery of God that lives within our very bodies.