We believe that God was completely fulfilled, perfectly happy and content, not in need of anything, before God created the universe and the human race. Wouldn’t it make you wonder why God bothered to create us at all, since we have proved to be so much trouble? And God knew about all the trouble that it was going to cause. So why did God create us?
Here is how it makes some sense to me. Think for a moment of some time when you were deeply happy about something: a wedding, a birthday, the birth of a child. Our instinct is to share it. We want others to be a part of that happiness and so we celebrate these times of happiness. That is one way to understand why God created us, simply because in his goodness He wanted others to share in his own happiness. And so he created the spirit world, that we understand as the angels and then He created the human race, in order that we could share in his happiness. The book of Genesis says that we were the last thing that God created, which is a biblical way of saying that we were the most important thing, the masterpiece of God’s creation. We are God’s greatest creation! God also created us to be like him, with the ability to love and reason and above all with free will.
However, there was one ‘catch’ as it were. In order for us to be able to love God we had to be free, so that we could freely choose to love God, otherwise it wouldn’t be real love at all. Real love has to be free, since you can never force someone to love you. You can encourage them, but you certainly can’t force them. Love has to be free or it isn’t love. So God made us free which meant that we would have the freedom to love God and gradually find our way to happiness, or to reject God which would ultimately mean we would lose the happiness that God had intended for us. It’s a strange paradox. God created us and gave us freedom, even though He knew that some of his own creatures would reject him.
A friend of mine, a very devout Catholic, after he was married and had children, said to me one time that when he looks at his children he couldn’t believe that God who is so loving would let people go to hell, that God would create hell. How could any parent allow their children deliberately to suffer? But the paradox is that no matter how much we love our children, we cannot force them to love us back. You know the pain of falling in love with someone who doesn’t love you back, or pushes you away. Hell is the pain that people who reject God end up with, because they reject the only one who can give us total fulfillment. If you push away total happiness, you get total misery. If you reject all joy, then you end up with all pain. That’s what hell is: losing all that can fulfill us and bring us joy. God doesn’t send us to hell. We choose it if we reject God. If we have real freedom then hell must also be real. If heaven is guaranteed for everyone, then we are not truly free, because to be truly free means we have the choice to love or not to love.
The image of the above icon above, is a very famous one painted in the 15th century by Andrei Rublev. Icons are not just paintings, they are meant to be a window into the other world. There is a whole ritual of prayer that goes into creating one and everything in the icon has a meaning. I just want to mention a few things in this image which I think are beautiful. In the Old Testament there is the story of Abraham making his journey, when three men suddenly appear to him. They are angels and he realizes after talking to them that he is talking to God. They can be understood as representing the Trinity. The colors of the three figures tell us something. On the left is the image of the Father. He wears the color of gold, but it seems to be changing into different colors. No one can know the face of God. The Father is pointing to, or blessing, the Son who is in the center. He is wearing a dark cloak, the color of earth and a bright blue cloak the color of heaven. Jesus unites heaven and earth by his death and resurrection. He is fully human and fully divine. Jesus is pointing to the Spirit on the right. He is wearing light blue of the sky and light green of the ocean. The Spirit is the who brings order to the Father’s creation of heaven and earth. Each is pointing to the right in a circle. But the most interesting part of the icon is the space at the front. That is the space that is kept for us. God invites us to be part of his life. Our ultimate goal is to be united with God in heaven and the house in the top left, is the symbol of the Father’s house where there is a place for us. We are invited to be part of the circle. The image is also telling us that God is with us on our journey, symbolized by the staffs they are holding which is long and tiring. So we rest with God and we also share the Eucharist to give us strength. The Eucharist is represented by the bowl in the center of the table, which contains the lamb. We are invited to be part of God’s life and God is with us every step of the way.
The Lord knows how difficult it can be for us to make the right choices and so He gives us people to guide us, the commandments, the teaching of his Church, his own Word in the bible and many other things to help us along the way, so that we won’t be short of the direction and encouragement that we need. He also sends us holy people every so often, like Francis of Assisi, Padre Pio, Therese of Lisieux, Mother Theresa, Pope Francis and many others, often people we know, because they radiate God and they are a real sign to us of the Lord’s presence among us. These people seem to radiate God and so many people are drawn to them because they sense that presence. That is why God sends us particular chosen souls every so often, to inspire us and remind us that we are not alone. I know of several people who worked with Mother Theresa and it completely changed their life, because they met God through her.
The feast of the Holy Trinity is a celebration of love; the Trinity is a community of Persons who share total love and joy between them, and this Holy Trinity reaches out to us with that same love and invites us to join them. If we respond to the Father, the Son and the Spirit, then we are gradually drawn more and more into that love. It starts in this world and it will be fulfilled in the next. The greatest way that we imitate God is by loving the people around us, sacrificing ourselves for others. That is what God did for us and that is what God invites us to do for each other.
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
So that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.