The Most Holy Trinity-June 4, 2023

 

The Most Holy Trinity-June 4, 2023

Ex 34: 4b-6, 8-9; 2Cor 13: 11-13; Jn 3: 16-18

 

Theme: Love is the Essence of the Holy Trinity

Last Sunday, we celebrated the Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Jesus and upon all of us. The Holy Spirit refreshed the gifts and graces we received on our baptism and confirmation days. We have been renewed and enabled to take up the missions that our Lord commissioned us for on the day he was taken up to his Father, the Ascension, which we celebrated on May 21st. Let me remind “us” of these missions. In the scripture readings of the Ascension Sunday (May 21st), Jesus commissioned us to be (1) his witnesses wherever we live, (2) make disciples of all nations (starting in our families, Church community, neighborhoods, and everywhere we are), and (3) teach them to observe, not what we want, nor what people want to hear, but what he [Jesus] commanded us. The solemnity of Pentecost marked the end of the East Season. Today, we resume the Ordinary Time.

After being commissioned (on Ascension Sunday) and filled with the Holy Spirit (on Pentecost Sunday), we are now back in our ordinary lives to live what we have learned from our experience with the Risen Lord.  We resume this Ordinary Time with the celebration of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, which is the central mystery of the Christian faith. In the Holy Trinity, note that we Catholics do not believe in three Gods but in one God as we profess it in our creed. In the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, our Mother Church teaches that there is One God in three Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The mystery of the Holy Trinity cannot be demonstrated using human reason. The scripture readings of today suggest that we meditate on the name and attributes of God to help us understand this doctrine. In the first reading, God calls himself “the LORD” and reveals the attributes of his name: mercy, grace, forgiveness, kindness, and fidelity. All these attributes are defined by one word: Love which is the essence of the Trinity. Out of his love for us, God gave his only Son to save us. (Gospel). As God is the Lord of mercy, grace, kindness, forgiveness, and fidelity, we are called to practice these values in our families and communities. (Second reading).

Knowing the context of our first reading is important to understand its lesson. The section that we heard is part of the story about God restoring the tablets of the Law that Moses broke. In fact, the first time Moses was up the Mountain Sinai, he received the tablets of the Law from God to present them to his people as a sign of their covenant with God. When he arrived, he saw the chosen people engaged in worshiping a golden calf (see Exodus 32: 1-6).  Then Moses’s anger burned and threw the tablets down and broke them on the base of the mountain. He burned the calf that they had made and told them about the grave sin that they committed. (Exodus 32: 7-29). Moses returned up to Mountain to God to intercede for his people. Our passage is part of Moses’ second return up to the Mountain to encounter God. In the first three verses that precede our passage, God instructed Moses to prepare another two tablets like the former ones that he broke on which God would again write his Law and meet him on the top of the Mountain Sinai. (See Exodus 34: 1-3). The story of our passage starts here. Moses intercedes for his people. God grants Moses’ request. He agrees to forgive their sin and renews his covenant with them.

Why do we read this story on Trinity Sunday? Note that when we celebrate the Most Holy Trinity, we reflect on the name and nature of God. And this reading tells us very clearly who God is. Notice how God proclaims his name in this reading: “The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.” (Exodus 34: 6). God reveals his very nature which primarily consists of mercy, grace, forgiveness, kindness, and especially covenant fidelity. As God forgave the people of Israel, he forgives us whenever we come back to him and confess our sins because he is “a merciful God.” We do not deserve his mercy and forgiveness. If our “covenant” (relationship) with him is renewed from time to time when he forgives our sins is because he is “a gracious God”. If we are not punished right away when we sin but are given a second chance to repent, it is because God is “slow to anger and rich in kindness”. In his covenant with the people of Israel, God promised them that he would save them. Because he is “rich in fidelity”, He fulfilled his promise by giving his only Son to redeem, not only the Israelites but the whole world as we heard in our Gospel.    

The evangelist John tells us that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son. The gift of his Son to us is out of the love that God has for us. And the reason for this gift is that he wants all of us to have eternal life. The Gospel poses one condition to be granted this eternal life. This condition is that we might believe in his Son Jesus. “… everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (v. 16b, NABRE). This condition entails the faith in Holy Trinity. To believe in Jesus in this context is to believe that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God and consubstantial with the Father who by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary. Faith in the Holy Trinity is necessary for anyone who wants to be saved.    

Since it is difficult to comprehend and explain the doctrine of the Trinity, the easy way to comprehend and teach it to others is to live the harmonious life that characterizes the relationship of the Triune God. Love is the essence of the Holy Trinity, so we Christians should show love to all our brothers and sister to teach them what Holy Trinity means. This is what Saint Paul exhorts the believers of Corinth in our second reading. He invites them, including us today, to mend our ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, and live in peace. (2 Corinthians 13: 11). When we do that then “the God of love and peace will be with [us]” says Saint Paul. (v. 11b, NABRE). Paul closes his exhortation with a Trinitarian blessing upon the Corinthian believers.  “The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” (V. 13, NABRE).

The liturgy of this Mass invites us to imitate the love that characterizes the relationship of the Holy Trinity. May the Trinitarian blessing that we too receive in this celebration of the Eucharist bring us grace to live the harmonious life of the Trinity everywhere we are. Amen.

Rev. Leon Ngandu, SVD

 

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