June 13, 2014

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

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThis weekend, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity. The first reading is from the Book of Exodus. In modern versions of the Bible, Exodus is second in the sequence of Old Testament books.

As its name suggests, in general it recalls the journey of the Hebrews through the Sinai Peninsula toward the land God had promised them after their escape from Egypt. The message of Exodus is emphatic. The Hebrews’ escape succeeded only because God provided guidance for them, and they followed this guidance.

Otherwise, they would have been at the mercy of the elements and the harsh realities of the sterile and forbidding desert. They would have been easy prey for the pursuing Egyptian army.

Also essential to the story is the fact of the communication between God and Moses, the great prophet who, in God’s name, led the Hebrews in their flight from Egyptian slavery. In this story, Moses climbed a high mountain, Mount Sinai. Mountaintops were often seen as earthly places closer to God. Jerusalem’s temple was built on a mountain, for example.

Moses admitted to God the people’s unfaithfulness and sin, yet he implored the merciful God to accept them.

St. Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians is the source of the second reading.

Calling the Christians of Corinth to piety was a particular challenge for Paul, since Corinth justifiably was known throughout the Mediterranean world of the first century as being a virtual cesspool of vice and licentiousness. A rich commercial center on the route between East and West, it also was the site of greed and exceeding competition.

The great Apostle urged the Christian Corinthians to rely on Jesus and the strength given through and in Jesus of the Holy Spirit.

For its third reading, the Church on this feast gives us a selection from St. John’s Gospel. It is a story of Jesus instructing Nicodemus, an important figure in Jewish life in Jerusalem.

Jesus explains that the Messiah is from God, and the Messiah is of God. Thus, the Messiah’s words are not just the comments of another human being. Rather, they are from God. The Son is one with the Father. To hear the Son is to hear the Father.

Jesus also tells Nicodemus that the Father sent the Son into the world of space and time to be with humanity, to redeem humanity in an act of divine love.

Finally, Jesus insists that the mission of the Son is not to condemn the world, but to give everlasting life to the just and the truly humble. Anyone who accepts the Son wins eternal life.

Reflection

All three readings unite in their common message about the love of God. Moses faces God fully aware of the Hebrews’ disloyalty to God. Moses relies upon God’s love, shown in mercy and fidelity despite the people’s sins.

Paul reassures the Corinthian Christians that they can withstand any pressure put forward by the pagan culture around them if they commit themselves completely to God. His love will strengthen them.

Jesus the Lord tells Nicodemus that the Son of God is in the world as Messiah and God’s gift because of God’s endless and perfect love.

With these emphases upon God’s love, the Church this weekend celebrates the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity. The Lord Jesus revealed the Trinity. While prefigurements and suggestions of the Trinity occur in the Old Testament, knowledge of the Trinity comes from the New Testament.

Humans did not deduce the Trinity. Through and by Jesus, God revealed the Trinity. This revelation by God was a sign of his unlimited love for humanity. He gives us this revelation so that we might return this all-consuming love with the help of his grace. †

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