What do you need?
It's a question we often ask ourselves. Our minds might quickly rush to a list of wants, of things we believe will make us happy, content, or comfortable.
We may want a new car, a better job, good health, more money, or even just a little peace and quiet. It is human nature to yearn, to strive, to seek what we think will make us content or bring us happiness.
But on this Trinity Sunday, the gospel reading from John is challenging us to shift our focus away from our wants and instead invites us to ponder on our deepest need:
"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." (John 3:16)
Here is our most profound need: Jesus, the Son of God. God the Father, in His infinite love, recognized our need and offered His only Son not to condemn us, but to save us, to give us eternal life.
What more do we really need in this lifetime? Our need for Jesus is what connects us intimately to the mystery of God that is the Holy Trinity.
Every year this weekend we are given the opportunity to reflect on this mystery of the Trinity. In case you don’t know, this doctrine of our faith tells us that as Christians we believe in one God.
This One God somehow consists of three distinct persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) yet all three share the same divinity.
The Father creates, the Son redeems, and the Holy Spirit sanctifies.
This is a very difficult concept for any human mind to wrap around. Some of the greatest minds have tried to explain it by using images. St. Patrick is famous for using the Shamrock. In the shamrock there are three distinct leaves yet they all belong to the same plant.
Yet, no matter how good of an image we can come up to explain the Trinity it still falls short of capturing what it means.
My favorite story about trying to figure out the Trinity is about St. Augustine. He was walking by the seashore one day, attempting to arrive at an intelligent explanation for the mystery of the Trinity.
One day he was walking along the seashore, in deep thought trying to understand the nature of the Holy Trinity. As he walked, he came across a small boy who had dug a hole in the sand and was going back and forth to the sea, using a seashell to carry water from the sea to pour into the hole.
This caught his attention and St. Augustine asked, "What are you doing, my child?"
The boy replied, "I'm trying to pour the entire sea into this hole."
St. Augustine, amused, responded, "But that's impossible, my dear boy, the sea is so vast and the hole is so small."
Just as he finished his sentence, the boy, who was actually an angel in disguise, looked at him and said, "And you, too, are trying to understand the great mystery of the Holy Trinity with your small head."
With that, the angel vanished, leaving St. Augustine alone on the beach.
The moral of this story is a humble reminder of our limited human understanding in the face of God's boundless mystery.
This shouldn’t discourage us from trying to explore and figure out who God is. Just the opposite! It’s an invitation to approach God with deep humility, allowing God to fill our lives and satisfying all of our needs and recognizing that God will always be beyond our full comprehension.
Which leads us back to our original question - What do you need?
The vast and limitless sea couldn't be contained in the boy's small hole, much like the boundless love of the Triune God cannot be contained within one person. It fills us up, it overflows, radiates outward, touching everything and everyone we encounter.
On this Trinity Sunday, as we celebrate the divine love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, let's refocus our desires, moving away from personal wants to what we, and the world, genuinely need: the transformative love of Jesus.
This love isn't merely about personal fulfillment or salvation; it's an invitation, a mandate even, to share this limitless love with others, much like the boy sought to fill his hole with the sea.
How can we, individually and collectively, pour this overflowing love into our world?
As we continue our faith journey, let's strive to emulate that boy on the beach, tirelessly working to share the infinite sea of God's love with all we encounter, because this love, the love of the Triune God, is what we truly need.