Love must be balanced by respect

Published May 30, 2021, 12:14 AM

by Fr. Rolando V. De La Rosa, OP


Fr. Rolando V. dela Rosa, O.P.

Today we celebrate the solemn feast of the Holy Trinity. I remember one priest who addressed his Sunday congregation this way: “My brothers and sisters,the Holy Trinity is a mystery. If we understood it, it would no longer be a mystery. So let us keep it at that. I will not deliver a sermon today.” Almost all of the parishioners whispered, “Thanks be to God.”

But, as Christians, we naturally seek to understand what we believe in. So, although it is difficult, we strive to make sense of our belief in one God in three divine Persons.Besides, if we cannot fully see the meaning of this divine mystery, it is not because it is dark, but because there is too much light for our weak eyes. As many saints and theologians have discovered, we penetrate deeper into the intricacies of our faith, more by love than by sight.

So let us try to understand the meaning of the Holy Trinity from the perspective of love. From this, we derive important lessons which we can apply in our relationships.

We begin with our basic belief that God is love. We affirm that God is ONE precisely because He is love. If it is the nature of love to make all things one, then God must absolutely personify such a unity.

If love has the power to unite the lover with the beloved, one lesson we derive from this is, we must be careful in choosing whom or what to love. St. Thomas Aquinas once wrote: “We become what we love.” Love has the power to transform us into our beloved. If you love a dog, you start looking like your dog. A person who loves money is seen by people as: “Mukhang pera.” A person who loves misery is taunted as: “Mukhang ipinag lihi sa sama ng loob.” A stingy person is described as:”Mukhang nakasarang pitaka.” If you love God, you become like God.

Be careful in choosing whom or what to love.

Second, since love naturally diffuses itself, God must love someone.St. Augustine wrote: “Love is first thing we see in the Trinity: the Father is the lover, the Son is the loved one and the Holy Spirit is the personification of the love that flows from the Father to the Son.”

But although the Trinity is a dynamic community eternally giving and receiving love,the Bible clearly shows us that each of them is not absorbed in the personality of the other. God revealed Himself to us as a Father, the creator from whom and through whom all things exist; as Son, the redeemer, who died for us to deliver us from our sinfulness; and as Holy Spirit, the invisible but sanctifying presence that makes us holy. The uniqueness of each divine Person is not dissolved in the other.

From this we derive another lesson from the Trinity: true love is tempered by respect. Without it, love dissolves the personality of the beloved to the lover. I remember an engaged couple who asked me: “Is it true that when we get married, we will become one?” I replied: “Yes.” They looked at each other momentarily, and they asked in unison: “Which one?”They obviously had a wrong notion of unity.

Respect creates the necessary distance so that you see your beloved not as a reflection of yourself or your desires, but as a unique individual, subject of rights which you can never violate. You should never create others according to your image, otherwise, as one wise man said:“Dadami ang pangit sa mundo.”

We are made after God’s image. If we model our lives according to the Holy Trinity, our love must be balanced by respect, and must be attentive to the requirements of justice.