“No man is an island”. This often repeated phrase has its origin four hundred years ago this year, when the English poet and Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral in London, John Donne, wrote a book called Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, which was published the following year in 1624. “No man is an island” is a famous section of one of the Meditations in this book.
Today’s solemnity of the Holy Trinity gives us precisely this message. The Trinity has been the pulse of the Church’s life since its very beginning. It helps us to understand that God’s very being is relationship. God is Father, Son and Spirit, a communion of persons. In God’s own life, there is communion and relationship, distinction and diversity.
But our faith in the Trinity is not just about who God is as God, but also about who God is for us. In revealing himself as Trinitarian, God has not merely shared impersonal facts about himself; rather, God has shared himself with us, and has invited us into his own inner life and communion of love, which alone is the origin, goal, and meaning of our life.
So Trinitarian life is also our life, as we have been included as partners in God’s own life. As human beings, we are created in the image of a God who is Trinity. This is not just an individual vocation but also a communal one: the vocation of humanity is to show forth the image of God and to be transformed into the image of the Father’s only Son.
It is in relationships, in our communion with each other, not in isolation from others, that we will find fulfilment. We will reflect God’s life if we live in this spirit of communion and collaboration and if our relationships are characterised by equality, mutuality and reciprocity. The vocation of the Church is to be a communion, a living source of Trinitarian relationships.
As Pope Francis says, “celebrating the Most Holy Trinity is not so much a theological exercise, but a revolution in our way of life”. God, in whom each Person lives for the other in a continual relationship, encourages us to live with others and for others. The Trinity teaches us that one should never be cut off from the other. We are in the world to live in God’s image: open, in need of others and in need of helping others.
We say today: no human is an island. And one can add: no love island will help us understand Christian love – the love that has its root in the Triune God. The love that comes from the Trinity is the antithesis of self-seeking attitudes, of the glorification of appearances, of the need to impress, to attract attention, to play transactional games – all of which is a caricature of love. God’s love is self-giving, not self-serving. It celebrates the beauty of the other as gift.
Today, we invite the Trinity to be more at home in our hearts, so that our hearts will become a more welcoming home for others—that through our love, our gentleness, our availability of heart, everyone whom the Father entrusts to us may experience the Love that is their eternal home.
✠ Joseph Galea-Curmi
First published on the Sunday Times of Malta