Gospel Reflection June 4 – Sr. Teresa
Sunday, June 4
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
John 3: 16-18
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
Rather than reflect on the Gospel from today’s liturgy, I am going to reflect on the Feast we are celebrating: the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity.
Last week we celebrated the great feast of Pentecost and we remembered the power of the Holy Spirit (the Breath of God) encompassing and surrounding all creation with this invisible energy force. The Holy Spirit encircles us from the outside and fills us on the inside with the power of grace. Jesus is faithful to his promise of giving us an advocate that we call the Holy Spirit.
Today we celebrate another feast, The Solemnity of the Holy Trinity. The feast expresses one of the fundamental truths of our faith: we believe in God the Father (Creator), God the Son (Redeemer), and God the Holy Spirit (Sanctifier- life force). We express that belief every time we make the Sign of the Cross, or say the prayer Glory Be. It is expressed several times at Mass. St. Patrick used the shamrock to try to explain the Trinity.
Have you ever tried to explain the Trinity to someone? Next time try these three ideas to help clear up the whole mystery thing. The most ancient and solid theology of the Trinity proceeds from the Cappadocian (Eastern Turkey) Fathers of the third and fourth centuries and is then adopted by later Councils of the Church. The Council of Nicaea in 325 gave us the creedal formula we profess today: There is one God in three persons; except they wrote that formula in Greek and the words there state literally that God is one substance in three subsistent relations.
Or try this one: When we say we believe in the Trinity, we believe that God is formless (Creator or Father), God is form (Jesus taking on humanity), and the loving energy between them, which we call the Holy Spirit.
Or try this one: God exists as three persons, but he is not three gods. He is instead one God who exists as three equally divine, equally eternal persons, and this truth forms the central foundation and mystery of the Christian faith (Catechism of the Catholic Church 234).
Did those ideas clear up the whole “mystery thing” about Trinity??? NOT!!! If we talk like that to try “to explain” the Trinity, most likely the eyes of those to whom are speaking will quickly glaze over and their response will be WHAT???
Strangely, as important as Trinity is and how deeply intertwined it is in the very fabric of our lives, we rarely think of the Trinity. When asked to explain the Trinity, we often revert to something we may remember the Sisters telling us in school. It is one of those things we believe but can never understand or explain: “IT’S A MYSTERY.” It is experiential.
The problem or mistake is that we keep trying to understand the Trinity or we try to think about the Trinity and, trust me, that is going down the road to nowhere. God is not understandable nor explainable. We cannot use our rational minds to plumb the great mysteries of life- especially God.
As I was musing over this reflection, I thought how amazing it is that the things that are so important to us and that we cannot live without – like love, forgiveness, or hope, to name a few, are also mysteries. When we try to explain them, we eventually come to a point where no words satisfy, no words capture the wholeness and depth of what they mean. Our reason will go just so far and then the heart has to take over.
Yet, at the very same time we know deeply in our heart the importance and life-giving force of love, forgiveness, hope and the Trinity. We cannot live without them. We cannot explain them. However, we are continually drawn to them and invited to embrace them with our whole heart. “The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of… We know the truth not only by reason, but by the heart.” – Blaise Pascal
In the Book of Genesis, we draw the belief that God created the world. Science tells us that it was nearly 14+ billion years ago when creation began. I think of it as when the inner radiance of God began to burst forth. There was so much love in God that it had to burst forth and, in that bursting forth, in that incredible act of love – an ongoing creation was set in motion for all time. God became visible and continues to be made visible every day. That same love-power flows in us, through us and from us. That divine relationship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit lives within us and we have been created to be part of that relationship. It is expressed in our deep love for God, for one another. It is expressed in our forgiveness, and our hope. It continually draws us to life and to God. It connects us to one another, though we still struggle to live that oneness with each other.
The Trinity is like a cosmic dance that we are invited to join. Hopefully we will not be a wall flower and sit out the dance. As we embrace love, creation, and spirit-energy, we begin to embrace and live a trinitarian life. Yes, the Trinity is a mystery but a mystery that was never meant to be solved or understood. Rather, the Trinity is a mystery that was meant to be lived, loved and encountered in countless ways.
I close with a blessing and a suggestion. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. (2 Cor 13:13) Try making the Sign of the Cross with these words: “Blessed Trinity be in my mind, in my heart, and all around me.” Then, get out there and dance!!!
– Sister Teresa Tuite, OP