This 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 than low places to the heavenly 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 A.D. 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.
Also, Jesus 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.
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 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 God’s unlimited love for humanity. He gives us this Revelation so that we might return this all-consuming love.
The Sunday Gospel reflection for June 22 can be found below.
In the Eucharist we unite with Christ
This weekend the Church celebrates the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, or as perhaps it is better known by its Latin translation, Corpus Christi.
Feasts in the Church have a dual purpose. They call Catholics to celebrate with faith the person, or event, recalled by the feast. Also, they are opportunities for the Church to instruct its members in a point of belief considered particularly important, as drawn from the experience of Jesus or the saint commemorated, or from a doctrine held by the Church.
In this weekend’s feast, the Church invites us literally to join in the Eucharist, as we participate in the Mass and receive Communion, and the Church instructs us about the Eucharist.
As its first reading, the Church presents a reading from the Book of Deuteronomy. One of the five books of the Torah, and heavy with references to the Exodus, Deuteronomy recalls the passage of the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery to the Promised Land.
Moses, the central figure, speaks in this reading, reminding the people that they owed their survival, life itself, to God. When they were lost in the barren desert, with no hope for finding food, God gave them manna to eat. God guided them through the wilderness.
For its second reading, the Church gives us a selection from Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians. The Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke record the Last Supper in detail. This reading from First Corinthians also records the institution of the Eucharist.
Parallel accounts among these biblical sources tell us about the Lord’s providing the Eucharist, but their similarity and very presence in the New Testament tell us how important the Eucharist was for the first Christians.
St. John’s Gospel furnishes the last reading. It is among the most profound, and loveliest, passages in the entire Scripture. In this reading, Jesus declares, “I am the living bread come down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread, he shall live forever; the bread I shall give is My flesh, for the life of the world.”
The Lord spoke these words, almost certainly, in Aramaic. They were recorded in the Gospel in Greek. The English version is a further translation. Despite the years, and despite the translations, it is clear that Jesus spoke of the Eucharist as we understand it today. He used no symbolic phrases, no vague suggestions that the Mass merely remembers the sacrifice of Calvary. He said, “I am the living bread come down from heaven.”
The Eucharist is the flesh and blood of the Risen Lord. The link between the Eucharist and the Lord’s sacrificial gift of self on Calvary is clear from the text. The Eucharist is the flesh of Jesus given “for the life of the world.”
For long centuries the Church has called the physical consumption of the Eucharistic species as “Holy Communion.” Of course, it is holy. It is Jesus, the Son of God, and the Savior.
“Communion” is a further, more deeply descriptive term. This term’s incorporation of “union” is clear. In receiving the Eucharist, we unite ourselves with Jesus. We receive the “body, blood, soul and divinity” of Christ into our very body and soul. It is the most complete of unions.
The first syllable recalls the Latin preposition “cum,” or “with.” In the Eucharist we unite with Christ, and Catholic piety always has celebrated this fact. We also unite with other believers, with the “community” of believers, or the Church.
God has given us the Eucharist, as manna was God’s gift to the Hebrews. We rejoice that in Communion we unite with the Lord. Important to remember, we unite with the whole Church, and we act as part of the Church.
The best news. Delivered to your inbox.
Subscribe to our mailing list today.