The traditional statement of "food, water and shelter" as the three essentials to human life probably needs a revision. I would say that there are four essentials to human life: food, water, shelter and love.
The first three are necessary because we were created as physical beings in a physical world. Love is necessary because we are created in the image of God.
There is no shortage of research that provides evidence of the devastating damage done to the child who is abused by neglect, whether intentional or circumstantial.
Without secure attachment, reciprocal love, the experience of being the "beloved," a child's brain does not develop as it could. That love is essential to normal, healthy brain development and thus development of the whole child.
'When (the Lord) established the heavens, (Wisdom) was there.'
It doesn't stop there. The adolescent, the adult, the person in the last years of life, all require love in order to be healthy. Wise people have always known that, science confirms it, Scripture with its enduring voice continues to speak into our hearts the words of truth: love is the heart, the centre of who we are and what we are to do.
Father Robert Barron says it took St. Augustine 20 years to write De Trinitate (The Trinity); 20 years to reflect, distill and express some understanding of the mystery of the Trinity. Having neither St. Augustine's intellect nor his faith (never mind the 20 years), it seems wise to consider his insight on the Trinity for this reflection on Trinity Sunday.
Augustine inferred from Genesis 1.26: "Let us make man to our image and likeness" that we are created in the image of Father, Son and Spirit, the image of God that is three, and thus possess within ourselves something of that triune nature.
He expressed that through the analogy of "I myself, what I love and love itself"; the lover, the loved one and love.
That is to say that the nature of our love relationships is in the image of God. They always contain those three elements, the one who loves, the one who is loved and that love which exists as a bond, which unites and gives life.
We are most fully ourselves, most fully human, within those love relationships. It always comes back to love. We need love to survive and thrive as children; we need to love and be loved to mature and experience healing; it is love which gives our lives purpose and meaning; we are created in the image of love and destined for love.
There aren't a lot of words in the English language that are both noun and verb - that both name what it is and describe what it does. Love is one of those words.
We are to love, just as the Father loves, pouring himself out, giving himself to the Son. We are to be loved, just as the Son is loved and enlivened by the radiance of the Father's love. We are to be love itself, just as the Holy Spirit is love, the very substance of love itself.
(Kathleen Giffin firstname.lastname@example.org)