In the Trinity, there is no self-concern. Each Person is self-offering, dying, for the other two. And each Person receives that same self-offering back from the other two. This is divine love. It is, in fact, the basis of all love; there is no love other than that which mirrors the love of God.
Jesus Christ is the ultimate revelation of God. In becoming human, there was a self-offering, a dying to the limitlessness that was his as the eternal Son and taking on the limitations of mortal flesh. Once in the flesh, Christ loved humanity to the end, that is, unto death. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (or enemies—see Romans 5:6-11). Such is the divine love.
Wherever self-giving love is shown by human beings in any degree at all, God must be said to be present in the transformation of human character into God’s own moral and spiritual likeness. There redemption is happening, as people are being set free from self-regard and self-interests. There salvation is being tasted, for salvation is precisely growth into that self-giving which is also God’s character and which is exercised in communion between God and humanity and among human beings.
A privileged place for this revelation is in the liturgy, which is specifically designed as a participation in Christ by the laying down of our lives on the altar with him. Thus, the presence of Christ is not only in the consecrated bread and wine, but even more powerfully in those who are willing to participate in his death, his self-offering. Yes, there is singing and responding, processing, genuflecting, standing, sitting, kneeling; but these are only tools to facilitate the real participation, which is self-offering.
This liturgical participation is actually a participation in God’s life. It is to be transformed into God, a process described from earliest times as divinization. So, participation in the liturgy is not merely a pious exercise. It is not there to make one feel good or holy, much less to entertain. Liturgy exists to transform humans into Christ’s body.
~ Fr. Frank Coady