This Sunday, Imitatio Trinitatis: The Trinity and Your Family

This Sunday is Trinity Sunday, a day we badly need. It is a feast about unity that preserves multiplicity: The feast celebrating the Three who is also One, the one God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

By imitating the Trinity, the master of unity, we can relearn a unity that builds up a true individuality.

1: Brag about your spouse or your family.

We have all heard that the Trinity is the model of the human family. Just as the love of Father and Son is a person, the Holy Spirit, so too, the love of husband and wife becomes a new person — a child. Just as those Persons are all equal and all one, family members are also equal and one.

But have you noticed how the Trinity “Family” behaves? In the Gospel for the Second Sunday of Lent, the Son stood on Mount Tabor by a pillar of cloud representing the Spirit as the Father declared, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” On the second-to-last Sunday of Lent, the Father’s voice returned, declaring that his Son glorifies his name.

This is the constant dynamic in the Trinity — each person puts the spotlight on the other.

The same dynamic works in families. Praise the good you see in each person — to their faces and behind their backs — and watch the momentum of unity build.

2: Don’t take credit

Another dynamic of Trinitarian life showed up in one of the Gospel options for Pentecost.

“When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me.”

Notice how much information is packed into that sentence: Jesus gives credit to the Father, and the Father gives credit to the Son, both through the Spirit.

The Trinity’s actions can’t be separated. Who saved mankind? Was it the Father who gave his Son, or the Son who gave his life, or the Spirit who followed? The answer is: All of them did.

It is the same in family life. The less credit we take in our lives, the better things go. If you need to be appreciated and thanked for everything you do, you will do little. Likewise, the more you are willing to appreciate and thank others, they more love you will experience.

3: Act in your family’s name.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, watch how the Apostles are sent forth.

“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” says Jesus. “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

All power is Jesus’ — but he wants human beings to share the work, and the glory, in his name.

It is the same way in the family. The man who wants to go his own way in the world will usually achieve far less than the man who builds his family’s place in the world. Striving to make others look good always beats striving to take care of yourself alone.

4: Pray like you’re a member of God’s family.

St. Paul in the Second Reading tells us that we need to be able to imitate the Trinity. He says that, “you received a Spirit of adoption, through whom we cry, ‘Abba, Father!’”

The Catechism spells it out this way: Baptism makes us “’a new creature,’ an adopted son of God, who has become a ‘partaker of the divine nature.’”

If it seems hard to build the unity our family needs, we should realize that we don’t merely imitate the unity of the Trinity — we inherit it as a birthright in our baptism, and maximize its effect through prayer.

5: Suffer for your family … and for your faith.

You can always tell a true family member by how much they are willing to sacrifice. It was true when Solomon used self-sacrifice to discover a true mother and it is true in stories like Chiara Corbella’s today.

St. Paul in the Second Reading adds that that we are “joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.”

In his new document on holiness, Pope Francis praises “the daily humiliations of those who keep silent to save their families, who prefer to praise others rather than boast about themselves, or who choose the less welcome tasks, at times even choosing to bear an injustice so as to offer it to the Lord.”

He even offers a prayer: “Lord, when humiliations come, help me to know that I am following in your footsteps.”

What are we willing to suffer for our families?

This appeared at Aleteia.
Photo: Flickr, photon_de

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes, author of The Rosary of Saint John Paul II and The Fatima Family Handbook, is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Kansas and hosts The Extraordinary Story podcast about the life of Christ. A former reporter in the Washington, D.C., area, he served as press secretary of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee Chairman and spent 10 years as executive editor of the National Catholic Register newspaper and Faith & Family magazine. His work frequently appears in Catholic publications such as Aleteia.org and the Register. He and his wife, April, have nine children and live in Atchison, Kansas.