God’s Self-Revelatory Impetus

Wading into the deep waters of Trinitarian reflection is always risky – especially for folks like me who don’t know how to swim. The problem, of course, is not God’s; it is our inability to "take it all in." But the Feast of the Holy Trinity invites us consider how much God desires that we receive and appropriate his Self-gift. The opening prayer of the liturgy expresses that God as one and triune is active on our behalf: "[Y]ou sent your Word to bring us truth and your Spirit to make us holy." The alternative opening prayer expresses God’s action in more intimate terms: "You reveal yourself in the depths of our being." The latter is echoed in the final line of the second reading: "the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us" (Rom 5:5). These lines from liturgy reveal God’s self-revelatory impetus, or what Rahner called "the self-communication" of God as personal and absolute mystery. What does it mean that God is self-revelatory? While it can be dangerous to employ human analogues to understand God – after all, we are created in God’s image, not vice-versa! – think of the dynamic that ensues when two people fall in love with one another. The one who loves wants to reveal him- or herself more and more to the beloved, while simultaneously he or she also wants to know more about the beloved. The more two people who are in love reveal themselves to one another, the deeper their love grows. This example from human experience can give us insight into God. God’s self-revelatory impetus reveals, first and foremost, how much he loves us – and desires to be known and loved by us in return. Perhaps this is, in part, what Jesus meant when he said, "This is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ" (John 17:3). Thomas D. Stegman, S.J.

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