There is a dilemma that confronts every believer who longs for God. We long to live in the presence of God, and yet, at the same time, we are conscious of the gulf that stands between the creature and the Creator. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, as the heavens are high above the earth so are God’s ways above our ways, God’s thoughts above our thoughts.
The revelation of God as a Trinity of persons addresses the loneliness at the heart of sinful humanity. We see the unfolding of this process in the narrative of Moses. The God who had seemed so distant heard the cry of his people. In Moses, the journey that would lead to the Incarnation, God’s presence among his people began. The God of Israel had revealed himself to Moses from a cloud. He had called Moses by name and sealed their relationship with the revelation of his own Name. Moses had experienced the distant God as a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness.
John’s Gospel presents Jesus as the light that enlightens all men, enabling them, through the power of the Spirit, to become the children of God. The encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus described salvation as a life lived in relationship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Such a life is begun in the love of the Father. “The Father loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life.”
A life lived in isolation, a life bounded by our own sinfulness and frailty, is no life at all. Through the gift of his Son the Father has broken through this isolation. The presence of the Son proclaims that we are not alone, that we are loved by the Father and embraced in his only Son. Experience teaches us that we are only fully alive when our lives are lived in relationship. Christ is therefore the fullness of life, for it is in him that we begin to live as the children of the Father. Repeatedly Jesus promised that those who turned to the Father would become the dwelling place of Father and Son.
The hesitation of Nicodemus in approaching Jesus represented the not unnatural doubts that we can live in the presence of God. The truth is that, of ourselves, we cannot live such a life. It is only through the grace of the Father, through what Jesus described as rebirth in the Spirit, that we enter such a life. The Spirit brings us to life in the love that has been shared by Father, Son and Holy Spirit from all eternity.
The conclusion of St Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians describes the life of the Trinity forming the Christian community. We are invited to live in happiness, to help each other and to grow in perfection. Above all, we are invited to live in the peace and love of the Father. This is the fullness of life, a life lived with and for each other, with and for God.
Paul summarised this blessing as life held in the intimacy of the Trinity: “The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”