Love as basis of justice and peace

Al Cariño, OMI
Editor: Mindanao Cross
Reproduced with Permission

Trinity Sunday

One of the first prayers our parents, usually our mother, taught us is the Sign of the Cross. She held our right hand, opened our fingers and guided them to touch different parts of our body as she uttered the words of the prayer. When we started to speak, she made us accompany the actions with the words of the prayer. Thus early on, making the Sign of the Cross has become a part of our lives. We begin and end our prayers by crossing ourselves.

We begin our life as Christians at our baptism when the priest made the Sign of the Cross on our foreheads as he claimed us in the name of the Triune God. The same sign is used when our sins are forgiven in the Sacrament of Reconciliation or when our marriage is blest. It is also used when a young man is raised to the priesthood. Finally, it is used when our dead is commended to the mercy of God. In short, every blessing of the Church is imparted through the Sign of the Cross.

The Sign of the Cross is more than just a routine procedure to begin and end a prayer. It is a prayer in itself and a profound one. It is a powerful profession of our faith in the Trinity.

As Catholics we believe in the Holy Trinity. The word “trinity” really is a fusion of two words — “tri-unity,” three–in–one. It is a theological term used to describe the three persons — the Father, Son and Holy Spirit — in one God. We express this faith in the Apostle's Creed when we say, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty… I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son… I believe in the Holy Spirit.” And when we give glory to the Triune God we say, “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.”

The doctrine of the Trinity is the heart of our faith. Yet it is its most profound mystery. As such it is beyond human understanding. For how can 1+1+1=1? It just goes against everything we know. But just as in our experience there are many things that we do not understand but yet accept, so do we accept the doctrine of the Triune God. And this on the authority of the Revealed Word of God as contained in Scriptures and as taught by the Church.

The above notwithstanding, one theologian's understanding of the mystery may be of help. He proposes that we view the mystery as a relationship of love, of total giving of self to and between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Everything the Father is He gives the Son. Everything the Son receives He gives to the Father in return. This gift between the Father and the Son is called the Spirit of God. The Father does not keep anything from the Son; neither does the Son withhold anything from the Father. This bond of unity between them, the vibrancy of this love is called the Spirit of God. No wonder peace and unity always prevails in the Triune God!

Our experience with human existence in this world tells us the opposite. There is so much greed, selfishness, distrust and hate between persons and among peoples. Another kind of trinity — “I”, “Me” and “Mine” — reigns. This is true in our families, our communities and even and specially in the community of nations. It is this unholy trinity which brings about misery, pain and conflicts among us and between communities.

Because of this human reality, our relationship is governed by laws based on justice which ultimately is based on human rights. We fight for justice, we fight for our human rights — no matter who gets trampled in the process.

We can learn from what another theologian has said: Justice is the minimum of love while love is the maximum of justice. Justice makes sure that what is due to another is given. But love goes beyond justice. In fact, it is the maximum of justice. Thus it seeks not only the good of others but also works to achieve this kind of social environment — without conditions. We see this specifically in the love of parents for their children. They not only give what is due to them like food, clothing, education, shelter and more. They give more than that — they give themselves. Thus they work hard in their jobs and at home so that their children will not only grow up as good children of God but also as good citizens.

Jesus wants us to pattern our human community to the Trinitarian community whose relationship is built on love. Thus human greed, selfishness, distrust and hate must give way to love. Rather, love must characterize our relationships in the different communities which we find ourselves in.

This approximates the kind of love that the Three Persons in the Trinity have for each other. The love that Jesus has for us. The kind of love that must be present between individuals and amongst peoples. And where this kind of love reigns, there is justice, peace and unity.