Feast of the Most Holy Trinity
The Book of Deuteronomy furnishes the first reading. Deuteronomy is one of the five books of the Pentateuch, to use the Greek term, or of the Torah, to use the Hebrew. These five books, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, as they appear in sequence in present translations of the Bible, constitute the basic law and beliefs of the Jewish religion.
In Jewish theology, they proceeded from Moses, to whom God revealed the ultimate realities of both divinity and creation.
This reading extols the majesty of God. It attributes creation itself to God. God creates life and sustains life.
Furthermore, the reading insists, God is not aloof. He is not beyond human communication. He is mighty and supreme but deigns to speak to, and hears, people. He protects them in their lives. He brought the Hebrews from Egypt, where they were slaves, to the Promised Land.
For its second reading, the Church offers us a passage from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. The reading, although brief, clearly expresses a theme that very much was one of Paul’s theological favorites. Each true believer is linked with Jesus, the Son of God, and therefore with God. Each person, regardless of belief or personal conduct, is a creature of God. In this sense, each person is a child of God.
It is a relationship that is so fundamental and encompassing that the believer, as a brother or sister of Jesus, is with Jesus an heir to the very life of God, which is eternal peace and joy.
St. Matthew’s Gospel is the source of the third reading. It is a Resurrection Narrative. The Apostles, reduced to 11 in number since the defection and suicide of Judas, obviously have been in communication with Jesus. The Lord has summoned the Apostles to a mountaintop. (Mountain summits were highly symbolic in the Old Testament. Often, on such peaks, God spoke to mortals, as was the case on Sinai when God spoke to Moses.)
On this mountain, the Apostles encounter the Lord. Jesus restates that God has bestowed “full authority” on the Redeemer. He has invested the Apostles with this power. He now sends them into the world, commissioning them to baptize any and all.
The salvation achieved by the Redeemer was not in any sense restricted to those persons alive in the first third of the first century in the Roman province of Palestina.
Salvation, and eternal life, are for all people, everywhere, and at any time.
This reading is important in that it makes clear that the Apostles possessed the most sublime of the powers reposing in Jesus, the Savior and Son of God. They could forgive sins.
Supremely important is that Jesus revealed to them, and through them to humanity, the most intimate of revelation, the fact that God is one in three, the Holy Trinity.
This weekend the Church celebrates the feast of the Holy Trinity, bringing us face to face with the reality of God.
For almost 10 years, except in the anachronistic lands of Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam, atheism as a specified, organized state policy has passed from the scene, and the tyranny seems to be waning in Cuba and Vietnam. Still, it is not as great a victory for religion as might be assumed.
Even in the highly developed, vigorous democracies, belief in God, and a sense of obedience to God, dangerously are eroding. Secularism, being content just with the things of this earth and ideas formed only by human conjecture, is gaining significant strength.
True, in the American society, the majority of people still tell public opinion samplers that they believe in God. Just as truly, the consequence of this belief for all practical purposes is very distant and inconsequential.
The Gospel this weekend informs us not only that God lives, but that God lives here and now, in our midst, through the Church instituted by Christ and formed by the Apostles. God’s power lives with us. Salvation lives with us.
If God lives, God’s will lives. Humans are subject to it. Living any other way is as foolhardy as trying to put a square peg in a round hole.
God protects us from the death produced by our sins. God is perfect love. He unites with us in Christ, and in this we have strength and wisdom.
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