POPE JOHN PAUL II: GENERAL AUDIENCE
June 7, 2000
The Glory of the Trinity in the Living Human
1. In this Jubilee Year our catechesis has concentrated on the theme of the
glorification of the Trinity. After having contemplated the glory of the three
divine persons in creation, in history, and in the mystery of Christ, we now
look to the human being in order to gather to ourselves the luminous rays of
"In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human
being" (Job 12:10). Job's evocative declaration reveals the radical ties that
unite human beings to the "Lord, lover of the living" (Wis 11:26). Rational
creatures carry within themselves an intimate relationship with the Creator; a
profound chain made up first of all by the gift of life. It is a gift lavished
upon them by the Trinity itself and it is composed of two principle dimensions,
which we will now try to illustrate by the light of God's Word.
2. The first fundamental dimension of the life given to us is the physical
and historical dimension, that "heart" (nefesh) and "spirit" (ruah) to which Job
refers. The Father enters the scene as the source of this gift from the very
beginning of creation when he proclaimed with great solemnity: "Let us make
humankind in our image, according to our likeness... so God created humankind in
his image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them"
(Gen 1:26-27). With the Catechism of the Catholic Church we can draw this
conclusion: "The divine image is present in every man. It shines forth in the
communion of persons, in the likeness of the unity of the divine persons among
themselves" (CCC 1702). In this communion of love and in the generative capacity
of the human couple there is a reflection of the Creator. In matrimony man and
the woman continue the creative work of God, participating in his supreme
fatherhood, in the mystery that Paul invites us to contemplate when he exclaims:
"One God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all" (Eph
The effective presence of God, whom the Christian addresses as Father, is
already revealed at the beginning of every human being's life, then expanding
itself over his days. An extraordinarily beautiful line from Psalm 139 attests
to this, which can be rendered in a form closest to the original: "For it was
you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother's womb... My
frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately
woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes beheld my embryo (golmi). In your
book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet
existed" (vv. 13, 15-16).
3. The Son is also present with the Father in our facing of existence; he who
assumed our very flesh (cf Jn 1:14) even to the point of being able to be
touched by our hands and heard by our ears, seen and contemplated by our eyes
(cf 1Jn 1:1). Paul, in fact, reminds us that "for us there is one God, the
Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus
Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist" (1 Cor 8:6).
Every living creature is also entrusted with the breath of the Spirit of God, as
the Psalmist sings: "When you send forth your spirit, they are created" (Ps
104:30). In light of the New Testament it is possible to read these words as a
pre-announcement of the Third Person of the Most Holy Trinity. The source of our
lives is, therefore, a Trinitarian presence of blessing and love.
4. As I alluded to earlier, there exists another dimension in the life
offered to human creatures. It can be explained with three theological
categories from the New Testament. The first of these is zoe aionios,
that "eternal life" celebrated by John (cf 3:15-16; 17:2-3) and meant as a
participation in the "divine life". Secondly, there is the Pauline kaine
ktisis, the "new creature" (cf 2Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15), produced by the Spirit
who erupts into the human creaturality, transfiguring it and giving it a "new
life" (cf Rom 6:4; Col 3:9-10; Eph 4:22-24). It is the Easter life: "For as all
die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ" (1Cor 15:22). Finally, there
is the life of the sons of God, the hyiothesia (cf Rom 8:15; Gal 4:5),
which explains our communion of love with the Father, following Christ, in the
strength of the Holy Spirit:
"And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our
hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!' So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if
a child then also an heir" (Gal 4:6-7).
5. This transcendent life infused into us by grace opens us to the future,
beyond the limits of our fallen state as creatures. This is what Paul affirms in
his Letter to the Romans, recalling once more the Trinity as source of this
Easter life: "If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,
he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also
through his Spirit that dwells in you" (8:11).
"Therefore Eternal Life is the very life of God together with the life of the
sons of God. Ever-new wonder and limitless gratitude cannot fail to take the
believer before this unexpected and ineffable truth that comes to us from God in
Christ (cf 1Jn 3:1-2)... Thus the Christian truth about life reaches its apex.
The dignity of life is not tied only to its origins, to its coming from God, but
also to its end, to its destiny of communion with God in the knowledge of love
of him. It is in light of this truth that St. Ireneus specified and completed
his exaltation of man: the 'glory of God' is, yes, the 'man who lives', but 'the
life of man consists of the vision of God'" (Evangelium Vitae n. 38; cf
Ireneus, Adversus Haereses IV, 20:7).
Let us conclude our reflections with the prayer of an Old Testament sage to
the God who lives and who loves life: "For you love all things that exist, and
detest none of the things that you have made, for you would not have made
anything if you had hated it. How would anything have endured if you had not
willed it? Or how would anything not called forth by you have been preserved?
You spare all things, for they are yours, O Lord, you who love the living. For
your immortal spirit is in all things (Wis 11:24-12:1)."