[Scripture Readings: Deut 4:32-34, 39-40; 1 Cor 12:3-7, 12-13; Jn 20:19-23 ]
It was theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar who said that absolute love has been revealed … and it is beautiful. It was revealed because it was hidden in the inner life of God.
The relationships between the persons of the Holy Trinity show us the interior life of God. We, men and women made in the image of God, reflect the relationships of that interior life.
The distinction between the sexes significantly images God and is thus good. The distinctions are perfections inscribed in the very being of man and of woman. One of the distinctions is that the male gives and the female receives and let's be. These reflect the image of the Trinity in us, as people in relation, because the persons of the Trinity are on-going giving and receiving. That giving and receiving constitutes life.
In short, the interior life of God is characterized by generativity and receptivity. What is generated and received is LOVE. The Trinity shows us that Love cannot be love unless it is both given and received. Today Paul tells us we have “received the Spirit of adoption,” and Jesus tells us to “Go and teach.” We can say that this giving and receiving of love is our God-given mission in life. We did not invent it; it was given to us.
That is why Love is the great commandment. And that is why in last Sunday's gospel for Pentecost Jesus told the apostles, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you. Receive the Holy Spirit.” Being sent means that the one sent has a mission and must respond to it with obedience. Having a mission is what makes one a person. Jesus Christ was sent and His mission and His person are identical, they are one and the same. For that kind of inner unity, one has to be divine.
For us who are sent today, it is more complicated. Yes, we have a mission, but it takes a disciplined way of life for us to respond to it. Because love is our motive and we are free in how we direct love, our obedience to the mission requires us to renounce selfishness ans self-centeredness and obey for the good of the community. This is why St. Benedict introduces our Rule by saying that a measure of strictness is necessary, “to amend faults and to safeguard love” to safeguard the life of the Trinity within us.
We use our God-given freedom rightly when we use it to commit and protect our love. And we gladly surrender our freedom by laying it at the feet of the beloved.
True love wants to outlast time. For that reason it wants to rid itself of its most dangerous enemy: its own free choice. Hence every true love has the inner form of a vow: it binds itself to the beloved. This vow frees us from the bonds of the world and for the bond of love. In the face of self-centeredness, vows—marital or monastic—form us toward an inner unity and perfect love that is motivated by a desire to make oneself a total gift to the other. Because only Jesus Christ can make such a mission of love identical with his being, we need—and we must know that we need—His power given through His way of life. We are assured of that because He promised that when we bind our love on earth, it will be ratified by being bound in heaven.
This inner unity is how we safeguard the giving and receiving of love; inner unity is how we safeguard the life of the Trinity within us. This vowed commitment to mission is the imitation of Christ. Jesus Christ was given to us as a concrete vision of the life of the Trinity. We are to imitate Christ's obedient relationship to the Father through the Spirit. This is how we are transformed in Christ. It is not in what we undertake for the purpose of transformation, but it is the things to which we devote ourselves for their own sake that will have the deepest effect on our formation. When love moves us to vow obedience, we are making our deepest response to that which (Who) is of highest value.That will promote our inner unity. We will experience it not as an accomplishment of will, but as the reception of a gift. As vowed people we no longer need ponder what we should do, but rather, what we have vowed to do. That will make us holy.