May 24, 2013

Feast of the Most Holy Trinity / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThe Church celebrates Trinity Sunday this weekend, and it uses the celebration to teach us about the Holy Trinity, the mystery of three Persons in one God.

For its first reading, the Church offers us a passage from the Book of Proverbs. Proverbs is one of a series of books in the Old Testament that is known as its Wisdom Literature. The purpose behind the writing of all these books was to reassure pious Jews that their belief in the one God of Israel, a divinity of mercy and eternal faithfulness, was not in the least contrary to sound human reasoning.

This reading reveals the essential link between God and the quality of wisdom. Wisdom is of God. “The Lord begot me,” Wisdom declares in the reading (Prv 8:22). “From of old,” it continues to say, “I was poured out upon the Earth” (Prv 8:23).

We cannot be wise, unless we partake in divine wisdom. In short, we cannot understand life without this wisdom.

St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans furnishes the second reading. As so often appears in the writings of the Apostle Paul, the reality of Jesus, and of life in Jesus, is majestically presented. Through the Lord Jesus, and through the sacrifice accomplished by him in his Incarnation and in the Redemption, humans are at peace with God.

God’s love comes to us through the Holy Spirit. This statement affirms the Spirit’s divine identity. Love is dynamic. It is not a commodity. Love is something essential to the lover. It is not an item to be handed on.

St. John’s Gospel provides the last reading. As is typical of all the parts of this Gospel, the reading literally glows with eloquence and grace.

This passage is a direct quotation from Jesus. In it, the Lord powerfully reassures the Apostles that the Holy Spirit will come to strengthen and empower them. “He will guide you to all truth,” the Lord tells the Twelve (Jn 16:13).

So, the reading establishes the place of the Apostles in the unfolding of salvation. It testifies to the esteem in which the Church holds the Apostles, and their successors, today.

The reading also reveals the Trinity, albeit obliquely. The Holy Spirit will convey to the Apostles God’s truth. As with love, truth is not a commodity. It is an awareness of what actually is. It is a frank look at and understanding of reality. Only the wisest, namely God, possesses this complete and unobstructed view of reality.

Finally, the reading reveals the place of the Lord Jesus. The Holy Spirit of God will give glory to God in the bestowal of divine wisdom upon the Apostles. Jesus foretold the coming of the Spirit. God sends the Spirit. Guided and strengthened by the Spirit, the Apostles continue Christ’s works of salvation.

Reflection

The Church teaches that the Holy Trinity is one of the greatest revelations of God. As such, the Church presents this teaching to the world, and to its own, again and again. The Church includes a profession of belief in the Trinity in all its formal creeds.

Catholic parents teach toddlers the sign of the cross, “Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” It is taught at all levels of institutional Catholic education. In a word, the Trinity is basic to the Catholic tradition.

Nevertheless, even for those who believe, the mystery of the Trinity can be quite dry, its relevance obscure.

However, it is relevant to everything we are and to everything we do. It explains creation. It explains salvation. It explains God because God is love. Thus, God is with us. He gives us life. We belong to God. God’s revelation of the Trinity in itself reveals the divine love.

Because of God’s love, we have peace in this life, come what may, and a promise of joy hereafter. †

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