For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

The Trinity is the perfect example of what it means to share communion and live in relationships. It is a relationship of love in which the three persons give themselves to each other without restraint or conditions. In this relationship each person gives and receives from the other, each person depends on the other for his existence and life. The Trinity is the story of a communion of persons who live in a communion of love. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit share unconditional love.  John writes: “God is love.”

God is relational. The God whom we serve entered into a relationship with us when he sent Christ to be our Saviour and Redeemer. This is the meaning of our text: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). This idea of relationship is expressed within the context of the vine and branches. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). God invites us to share a special relationship with him and to experience his love. This relationship begins at the font where we become members of Christ and inheritors of the kingdom of God. The relationship we establish with Christ is a transformational experience; today’s Gospel describes it as being born again.

Men and women everywhere can use the model of the Trinity for human relationships and life in our communities. The Trinity says this is how we should live and conduct our human affairs. One can say that the Trinity enunciates what one knows to be true: united we stand, divided we fall.

Why are relationships important? Relationships are important because they define who we are and what we are. I am who I am because of you. Without you I am not. I can only be a person when I live in relationship with people. To be truly human we must live in relationships and share communion with people. The notion that we can live by ourselves is unchristian, anti social, self destructive and dehumanising. People who make the claim that they can live by themselves without having relationships with others are selfish, unwise and not fully human. Our humanity is not fully realised if we do not share communion with others. To be human is to communicate and without relationships it is impossible to communicate. The writer of the Genesis creation story understood this and penned “It is not good that the man should be alone.” Relationship is a political statement, we belong to each other.

Relationships are important for our social lives and peaceful living. Relationships enrich our communities; strengthen the bonds of our fellowship and allow for peaceful coexistence. Good human relationships promote justice, peace and happiness. They allow us to be truly human and to share solidarity with all persons. Relationships must be self given; we give of ourselves completely and without restraint. Genuine relationships must be built on respect, trust, equality and acceptance of the other.

The absence of good relationships in any society is a recipe for fragmentation, injustice, violence, chaos and confusion. Without these bonds we fail to be compassionate, kind and merciful. We cease to love and in the process we treat our neighbours as less than human as we pursue our personal goals. The story of Cain and Abel is a perfect example of how communities are affected when there is an absence of relationships that build community. In this kind of environment we fail to accept our social responsibility and like Cain we ask: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The story of Cain and Abel reminds us of the dangers that face society when people abandon their obligations to live in communion and pursue their selfish ambitions. The author of Genesis makes the telling point: “Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. “

No society, family or organisation can enjoy peace unless they enjoy healthy relationships. As such we are obligated to create and cultivate an environment that would promote communion and community. To this end we must strive for a society that frowns on discrimination of any kind; a nation that abhors prejudice; a community that recognises and accepts difference-in other words a community that is tolerant; a society that recognises the value of each person and the part that she or he can play in the development of our nation. To accompany this we must strive for the creation of a just society. We cannot have good relationships if the political, social and economic conditions do not foster a spirit of communion and community.

Relationships that are necessary for peaceful living cannot be exclusive entities. If we follow this path it will lead to exclusion, repression and oppression. The relationships we build cannot be defined by class, race, political loyalties, culture or anything of the sort. Genuine relationships are built on love. Without love there can be no communion, no community, and no relationship. Without love people are used in relationships and then discarded. We are called to follow the example of the Triune God in establishing relationships of love and we must always remember that God is love.

The importance of relationships cannot be overstated. Without good relationships in our families, the places where we work, our homes, our churches and places of recreation, life becomes an unpleasant experience. When relationships break down the environments in which we live and work becomes hostile. People become suspicious of each other, people quarrel and fight, gentleness gives way to roughness, arrogance replaces humility, love is overcome by hate, unity is consumed by division. To live or work in an atmosphere that is void of good relationships is to experience torture, misery and torment.

Unlike the perfect relationship which we see in the Trinity, our human relationships experience tensions and crises from time to time. We are human beings and not God so we must expect to encounter difficulties in our marriage, family, work, and social relationships. If we are to conquer these problems and sustain our communion we must ensure that our relationships are built on love. For any kind of relationship to be sustained it must have love, there must be a willingness to forgive, persons must be faithful and committed to each other, there must be a spirit of compromise and we must always be truthful.

Living in communion with each other is not an option, it is an obligation. It is Jesus’ prayer that we be one just as he and the Father are one. I am who I am because of you. Without you I am not. 

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