May 20, 2016

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 mystery of three Persons in the one God which lies at the heart of our faith.

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 described as 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 in harmony with 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. “From of old,” it continues to say, “I was poured out upon the Earth” (Prv 8:22-23).

In other words, God gives us wisdom, another gift of divine mercy and love. Without this wisdom, we cannot fully understand reality.

St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans furnishes the second reading. As so often appears in the writings of the Apostle Paul, the realities of Jesus and of life in Jesus, are majestically presented. Humans are at peace with God through the Lord Jesus and the sacrifice accomplished by him in the incarnation and in the redemption.

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 incidental.

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 continues to hold the Apostles and their successors today.

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

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.

The Father sent Jesus. Jesus and the Father send the Spirit. The Father, Son and Spirit are one.

Reflection

The Church teaches that the Holy Trinity is among the greatest and deepest of the revelations of God. As such, the Church presents this teaching in its pronouncements and in prayer, including this great feast. The Church will never compromise this teaching. It is at the root of Catholic belief.

From the moment that Catholic parents teach toddlers the sign of the cross, through extensive studies at the highest levels of education, Catholics hear of the Trinity, and they know that it is basic to the Catholic tradition.

Even so, even for those who believe, it can seem abstract, an academic statement of a reality that has little relevance.

To the contrary, it is relevant to everything we are and to everything that we do. It explains creation. It explains salvation. It explains God. It even explains who and what we are, and what is our purpose in life.

God is love. God is all-wise. God is with us. We belong to God. †

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