June 5, 2020

Christ the Cornerstone

God is love: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption. As proof that you are children, God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God” (Gal 4:4-7).

This Sunday, June 7, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. This great feast, which comes every year on the Sunday following Pentecost, grounds the rest of the liturgical year (Ordinary Time) in the central mystery of our faith.

We believe in one God who is the source, ground and goal of all things visible and invisible. And, at the same time, we believe that this one God is a loving communion of persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is the divine paradox: perfect unity in diversity, one God in three persons.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “by sending his only Son and the Spirit of Love in the fullness of time, God has revealed his innermost secret: God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange” (#221).

God is love, and God’s love cannot be contained. It overflows, creating and sustaining all of creation, calling all things to be united in perfect harmony with the Creator God.

Sacred Scripture does not “explain” the mystery of the Holy Trinity, but it does give witness to the many diverse ways that the One God manifests himself to his people.

In the first reading from the Book of Exodus (Ex 34:4b-6, 8-9), Moses sees God as the face of mercy (a favorite image of Pope Francis). The God who gives Moses the Ten Commandments is, at the same time, a demanding lawgiver and a loving father, “a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity” (Ex 34:6).

In the Gospel reading (Jn 3:16-18), we learn of the lengths to which this loving and merciful Father will go to save us from our sins and to sustain us in the new life that was made possible by his Son’s death and resurrection, and that is the gift we have received from his Holy Spirit. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

We see this citation in many different places, including sporting events. It is an affirmation of the Most Holy Trinity—the Father who loves, the Son who redeems, and the Holy Spirit who makes it possible for us to believe and, therefore, to inherit eternal life.

The second reading for Trinity Sunday from St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Church in Corinth is a simple, but not easy, guide to our acceptance of God’s gifts of creation, redemption and sanctification:

“Brothers and sisters, rejoice. Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the holy ones greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you (2 Cor 13:11-13).

We are invited, and challenged, to rejoice, to change our ways, and to encourage one another and live in peace. If we can accept the divine graces that make it possible for us to “mend our ways” and believe in the transforming power of God’s love, we can be united with God—now and in the life to come.

As St. John’s Gospel makes clear (Jn 3:17-18), God does not wish to condemn the world or anything created by his divine love. God wishes to be united with us in love and in peace. The choice is ours. “So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God” (Gal 4:7) We are free to accept or reject the love which alone makes lasting joy possible.

On this Trinity Sunday, let’s thank God for revealing to us “his innermost secret.” Let’s ask him to help us recognize the gift of his love and mercy as it is expressed most profoundly in the mystery of the Trinity.

And let’s pray for the grace to believe in God’s “eternal exchange of love” so that we, too, can share in this great mystery of faith. †

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