May 16, 2008

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.

This is the scholarly, theological term to describe the most intimate detail of the reality of God.

In the first reading, from the Book of Exodus, the Church begins its lesson for us today by reminding us about God and also about ourselves.

Exodus, in general, recalls the path of the Hebrews, escaping slavery in Egypt, across the forbidding Sinai Peninsula to the land of prosperity, peace and security promised to them by God. It was a difficult trip, to say the least.

Without God’s mercy, the Hebrews would not have completed the journey. He guided them. He loved them.

The first reading reports the communication between God and Moses. Divine love allows, and deepens, this communication. God reaches out to us. God listens to us.

For the second reading, the Church presents Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians.

The Christians of Corinth confronted Paul with many challenges. They quarreled and plotted among themselves. They sinned. Considering their surroundings, it is not difficult to realize why they so often were wayward.

Corinth was known throughout the Mediterranean world of the first century A.D. as 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.

Finally, the Church presents, from St. John’s Gospel, the story of the Lord instructing Nicodemus, an important figure in Jewish life in Jerusalem.

Jesus explains that the Messiah’s words are not just the opinions of a mere mortal. The Messiah is from God. The Son is one with the Father. To hear the Son is to hear the Father.

Jesus tells Nicodemus that the Father sent the Son into the world of space and time to be with humanity and to redeem humanity.

Eternal life awaits the faithful. God is merciful and forgiving. God loves humankind. Despite all their sins and weaknesses, God loves humans and wills that they live forever.

Jesus is the perfect bearer of communication between God and humanity. He came as the very personification of God’s love.


Using the phrase “Holy Trinity” does not customarily bring Catholics to an emotional response in their religious experience. Quite frankly, it should evoke considerable emotion among people who count themselves as disciples of Christ.

First, the term tells us of the immense love that God has for us. The Holy Trinity, while not unreasonable in the philosophical sense, never would have come to human knowledge as the result of human deduction. It had to be revealed.

It seeks to explain in human terms the most intimate aspect of the life of the divinity. In God’s great love for us, so that we might know God, the Lord revealed the Trinity to us.

Secondly, so much of Catholic teaching rests on the belief that God has created every human in the divine image and likeness. This is more than the matter of nice words. We are made in God’s image and likeness.

As such, we are out of kilter if we fail to love God. We are not in accord with our nature, our ultimate DNA, if we set ourselves apart from the human community, and certainly if we do not love others.

This is why all three readings for this feast bear in common the message that God loves us.

Long ago, the great theologians saw love as the essence of divine life. It is the kernel of the life of the Trinity. This feast calls us to realize that love is of God. †

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