READINGS AND REFLECTION
Trinity Sunday – June 7, 2020
Exodus 34:4-6,8-9 – ‘Lord, Lord, a God of tenderness and compassion’
WITH the two tablets of stone in his hands, Moses went up the mountain of Sinai in the early morning as the Lord had commanded him. And the Lord descended in the form of a cloud, and Moses stood with him there.
He called on the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger rich in kindness and faithfulness.’ And Moses bowed down to the ground at once and worshipped. ‘If I have indeed won your favour, Lord,’ he said ‘let my Lord come with us, I beg. True, they are a headstrong people, but forgive us our faults and our sins, and adopt us as your heritage.’
2 Corinthians 13:11-13 – The grace of Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
BROTHERS, we wish you happiness; try to grow perfect; help one another. Be united; live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.
Greet one another with the holy kiss. All the saints send you greetings.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
John 3:16-18 – God sent his Son so that through him the world might be saved
JESUS said to Nicodemus:
‘God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost
but may have eternal life.
For God sent his Son into the world
not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved.
No one who believes in him will be condemned;
but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already,
because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son.’
A note on the Times and the Seasons
WHEN I used green vestment again last Monday at Mass after using only purple, red and white for such a long time, I was filled with a sense of change, a certain relief and yet a challenge to roll up my sleeves and get back to daily spiritual work.
Welcome to Ordinary Time! It is the longest of the 3 “Times” or “Cycles” in the Church Calendar/Year, lasting 33 or 34 complete or partial weeks (depending on the number of days in Advent). The other two are the Christmas and Easter Cycles (preparing and celebrating the Mystery of the Incarnation, God made Flesh: Advent-Christmas-Baptism of the Lord; preparing and celebrating the Mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Christ: Lent-Easter-Pentecost).
Some people get a bit lost because they are not quite aware that Ordinary Time is divided into two Parts. Part One begins with the Baptism of the Lord (the last day of Christmas and the first day Ordinary Time) and ends the day before Ash Wednesday (12 January to 25 May 2020); it resumes, Part Two, on Monday after Pentecost and ends on the Solemnity of Christ the King (1 June to 22 Nov 2020).
‘Ordinary Time’ longest time of the year
Ordinary Time is the longest Time of the year for a good reason, for these are “ordinary” or “working” days and weeks without which it is not possible to celebrate the Mystery of the Coming of God Emmanuel at Christmas, and less, to seriously join Christ in His Death and Resurrection. Here the sayings are true: “no fasting, no feasting”, “no working, no holidaying”.
Most of the year we need to work, get back to the basics, to the day-to-day drills of becoming DISCIPLES of the Master who loved, died, and rose for us. The most basic drill to grow as a disciple is to spend time with the Master, listening to Him, and then, to love and imitate Him, acting more and more like the Master.
Solemnity of the MOST HOLY TRINITY
CELEBRATING the Most Holy Trinity is celebrating the great Mystery of God Himself. The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity always falls on the First Sunday after Pentecost, the first Sunday after the Easter Cycle. This is most appropriate. Not only does “The faith of Christians rests on the Trinity” (CCC 232), but we have just celebrated the fullness of our salvation accomplished by the united workings of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father created all things through the Word, brought into existence by the power of the Spirit. After the Fall, in the fullness of time, the Father sent the Son who through His Death and Resurrection, the Spirit has been given us enabling us to become children of God once more.
There is One God, One Divine Being, who exists in three Divine Persons. “Being” is WHAT someone is; Person is WHO someone is. There is One God in three “consubstantial” (same substance, same being, co-equal) Persons, in the Person of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. There is only ONE God: He is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
It is always difficult to say anything about the Holy Trinity. So proud of our supreme intelligence among the creatures on earth, we always, consciously or unconsciously, expect to understand everything. All human creatures, all Christians, are not capable of understanding fully the Mystery of God Himself. We would have known nothing of God’s trinitarian life if it had not been revealed to us by God Himself in Jesus, and by the Spirit given us after His resurrection.
Can we fathom the infinite God?
To think that we will fully understanding the Trinity is to make the mistake of thinking God is fully understandable. God is infinite. He is beyond us. Trying to “fully understand” God is like a 2-year-old trying to “fully understand” the complexities of relationships, marriage, and parenting. The fact that God is too immense for our finite minds should be comforting, not discouraging! There is this saying: “If God was small enough for my brain to fully understand, He wouldn’t be big enough to save me”!
In our daily reflection throughout Easter (the appearances of the Risen Lord, His Farewell Discourses, and Priestly Prayer) Jesus has made known that God is one and God is three. He, Jesus the Son, is one with the Father, and the Spirit. It is clear: In God there are PERSONS involved, there is PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP, there is COMMUNITY life. Yet God is ONE. When Jesus revealed to us His relationship with the Father and the Spirit, He did not and could not expect us to understand fully God’s inner life and dynamics. He revealed it for a critical purpose, that through and in Him we may be like Him in our personal relationship with God the Father and the Holy Spirit.
The Trinitarian God created man in the image of Himself. Like God, each unique human PERSON is made intelligent, knowing, and free, hence capable, indeed made only to love God and other persons, in imitation of the Great Community of the Most Holy Trinity.
The only true way to live a “Godly” life, to achieve fulfilment and happiness, therefore, is to relate personally in love with other persons and become a united community, and be brought into the very Community of the Holy Trinity, so that God may be all in all. Persons, love, personal relationship, community, will always be the essential to be human and divine, no matter how science and technology may have seemed capable of substituting them. If the mobile phone downgrades actual personal relationships, humanity is downgraded.
The three Divine Persons
On this great feast day, each of the three readings focuses on one of the three Divine Persons. The Book of Exodus introduces God the Father as ‘The Lord, a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger rich in kindness and faithfulness.’ This is the Father who took the initiative to create the world, who again and again offered salvation to fallen man. The gospel introduces Jesus as the Son the Father sent when the time was ripe, not to condemn us but to be the Saviour of us all. In the second reading, St. Paul urges those who have been saved to stay united in “the FELLOWSHIP (COMMUNION) of the Holy Spirit”.
Our one God is Three divine Persons. God is Community. Like Him therefore, “no man is an island”, “three make a crowd”, the “more the merrier”. Parents laugh at me when I tell them that to be good Catholics, they must try to have at least three children! A single child is a little Napoleon, an island, no matter how mighty; two can only wheel and deal and trade; three at least make it necessary to truly inter-relate in love. Of course, the more the merrier. It should not surprise us when people born to a larger family often grow up to be better human beings, because our God is Trinity, our God is persons, our God is love in personal relationship in community.
I forget if I shared this with you in the earlier days of the Pandemic. Due to the need for social distancing to prevent viral infection, a good friend sent me a stunning “new” declaration: “United, we Fall; Separated, we Stand”! I wrote back: “Unity is strength, that will never change. To distance socially is only possible if the whole community is united to agree heartily. But that unity is not possible unless the individual person is himself strong in love and care of others. Remember, God is One and God is Three”.
Blessed be the Name of the Most Holy Trinity. Amen! Amen! Amen!
Cover Image: Holy Trinity, depicted by Szymon Czechowicz (1756–1758)