Feast of the Trinity
This weekend, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity. The first reading is from the Book of Exodus, 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 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 AD 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 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 at the time.
Jesus explains that the Messiah is from God and is of God. Thus, the Messiah’s words are not just comments of another human being. They are from God. The Son is one with the Father. To hear the Son is to hear the Father.
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, Jesus tells Nicodemus.
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.
With this feast, the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, the Church concludes its celebration of Easter, not by closing the book, but by today declaring that it has proclaimed to the world that Jesus died but rotes again. He ascended to heaven in glory. He is the Son of God. He is God.
Then the Holy Spirit came and spiritually vivified the first Christians, whom we succeed in the unfolding of history.
These are lovely thoughts, but for us, in June 2023, amid all our personal circumstances, what do they mean?
Quickly, and simply, they mean that we have turned to God, as did the first Christians. Christians follow the Lord, listen to the Lord, set the Lord as their supreme model.
This feast calls us to reflect on the identity of Jesus, Son of God, in the Holy Trinity, presenting us with direction, fueling our resolve.
God is one, in three divine persons, the Holy Trinity. He is perfect. He is love. As shown in the life of Christ, God loves all, without qualification or exception. So must we.
God shows us the way. God walks beside us. God loves us.
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