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A Parable from the Science Textbook: The Magnet of the Trinity

March 22, 2024


Magnetism is an invisible force generated by the electrons in magnetic substances. Magnets have two poles that attract each other, generating a constant field of magnetic force around the magnet that flows outward from the north pole to the south pole, through the magnet itself, and then back out again. 

Thanks to its molten core, Earth itself is a magnet, with its north and south poles. That is why magnetic compass needles invariably point north. We also are magnetic thanks to small amount of iron in our bodies. Magnetism is part of the reason why we stick to the Earth (though gravity is the stronger reason).

Some substances, like iron, are not magnetic in and of themselves, but they can become magnetized when they are brought within a magnetic field. Tiny areas within the iron, called domains, all line up in the same direction as the magnet, and then the whole iron bar can also act like a magnet. If something strikes against the iron bar, the domains are scattered, and the bar is demagnetized.

God has revealed his mysterious inner life to be that of the Blessed Trinity. From all eternity, God the Father begets and loves God the Son. God the Son honors and loves God the Father. Their love is so substantial that it is another person: God the Holy Spirit. As one pole of a magnet is irresistibly attracted to the opposite pole, generating a magnetic field, the Father and Son are forever drawn to each other, generating the magnetic field of love, which is the Holy Spirit. As Bishop Robert Barron explains,

The biblical God is a great gathering force. In his own nature, he is a community of love, a unity in difference. This infinitely intense divine love gives rise to a universe of interconnected things, all joined to each other through their common center in God. God’s preoccupation, from the beginning, is the coming together of the many as one, gathering in.

Adam and Eve were created to be in perfect harmony with God: they were fully magnetized. But sin disrupted their domains to the point that they were expelled from God’s presence, like a magnet facing the wrong way will be repelled. As Bishop Barron puts it, “That which stands opposed to God . . . is always a power of separation.” On our own, we could never have returned to God’s magnetic field of love. When we try on our own strength to live a perfectly moral life, we meet with constant resistance from our sinful nature, like trying to force the wrong ends of a magnet together. Our only hope to live in magnetic blessedness lies in Jesus, the one sent by the Father to re-magnetize us in his love.

We can help draw others into God’s magnetic field.

Jesus took our humanity to himself and realigned it within God’s will through his obedient Passion and Death: “Father, if you are willing, remove this chalice from me; nevertheless not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). Now the possibility of living in God is open to us once more. Jesus says in John 6:44a, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him,” and “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32), like a magnet exerting its gathering force. When we let the Holy Spirit realign our wills to God’s will, we allow ourselves to be drawn into the magnetic field of the Blessed Trinity. The Blessed Virgin Mary was so perfectly aligned with God’s will that her Assumption into heaven could be seen as a magnetic response to the Ascension of Jesus; where one pole of the magnet has gone, the other must follow. 

As we form our consciences in the light of Christ and his Church, the domains of our lives gradually become properly aligned in accordance with God’s will. As we become re-magnetized, we can help draw others into God’s magnetic field, the way magnetized iron can itself act as a magnet—an evangelization of magnetization. Finding peace means ceasing to struggle against God’s magnetic field. Once we are fully aligned in his will, the needle of the compass of our souls will draw us to our true home in heaven, that we “may all be one” (John 17:20) as the Blessed Trinity is one—“a community of love, a unity in difference”—like a magnet.