Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Year A - Sunday, June 15, 2014
The Holy Trinity is a mystery that Scripture does not prove. This Sunday following Pentecost, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Blessed Trinity. The Triune nature of God is the principal mystery of the Catholic faith. Today we contemplate the first and last horizon of the universe and of history: the Love of God, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. God is not solitude, but perfect communion.
To understand better the Trinity, we need not only the words of Sacred Scripture but holy images. An image is worth more than a thousand words. One image that has helped me enter into the Trinitiarian mystery is the famous icon of the Trinity by Rublev. The icon introduces us to the threshold of the mystery of God.
I have always loved Rublev’s image because it depicts in an extraordinary way what lies at the heart of our Triune God. The Father gazes lovingly towards the Son; the Son is looking obediently towards the Father and the Holy Spirit is that breadth of love between the Father and the Son. We could say that God’s nature reveals itself in the dynamic relations among the divines. It is in the self-emptying and gazing at the other that the transcendence of God becomes manifest.
Behind each of the three personages in the icon, Rublev has put a symbol which enables it to be identified. On the left, the House of the Father, at the centre a tree, where the cross transforms itself into a new tree of life, and on the right a rock from which gushed out the water in the desert prefiguring the gift of the Spirit. The dish offered by Abraham to his guests resembles the Paschal cup, which prefigures the Eucharistic cup. For Rublev, the meeting of Abraham with the three angels reveals God, his divine council where it elaborates the plan of salvation. The contemplation of the icon of the Trinity is transformed into a meditation on the whole history of salvation. It finds here its completion in the mystery of the Father, of the Son and the Spirit.
The Lord, a God who is merciful
In today’s first reading from Exodus (34:4b-6), God is revealed to Moses: “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious…” God proclaims his own Name to us! He does so in the presence of Moses with whom he spoke face to face, as with a friend. There could be no better way to tell us the truth about God’s identity. God’s Name is Mercy, Grace, Faithfulness.
The second reading of today’s liturgy, II Cor 13, 11-14, closes with the words: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” Mention of Jesus Christ, God and the Holy Spirit is more then a hint of the three persons in God, One and Unique, whom we want to encounter in our prayer. This formula probably has its roots in the Tradition of the early Church.
The first verse of today’s Gospel begins with the statement that God loves the world (John. 3:16). Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. God loves the Son, “The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands” (John 3:35). God loves Israel with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). To celebrate the Trinity is to be in “Communion of the Holy Spirit”’ wherein we know that God loves us.
Our God is rich in relationships
Our God is rich in relationships, communication and love for all people. This God models to us what the dynamic Trinitarian life is all about– communication, relationship and affection. The quality of our Christian life is based on imitation of the interior life of the Trinity. The Trinity is the model of every human community, from the most simple and elemental, which is the family, to the universal Church. It shows how love creates unity out of diversity: unity of intentions, of thought, of will; diversity of subjects, of characteristics and, in the human realm, of sex. And we see, specifically, what a family can learn from the Trinitarian model.
Embracing the mystery each day
On Trinity Sunday, rather than try to solve the mystery, let us ask how open we are to it: the mystery of why God created us to begin with; the mystery of God loving us, desiring to be part of our lives, to live in our hearts; to be one with us; the mystery of God inviting us to share in the life of the Trinity: Father, Son and Spirit; the mystery of a God who cares for us like a loving parent, who lays down his life for us like a best friend, who fills our hearts like a lover who will not be refused.
While the Holy Trinity is a mystery that cannot be proven by Scripture we come into contact, through our liturgy, with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”
How many times each day do we make the sign of the cross? It may be in our Morning Offering, at grace before meals, at Mass, or before we retire for the night. It may be when we pray the Liturgy of the Hours, or recite the Rosary. How often do we sign ourselves "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit"? How often do we think about the deep meaning of these words and this simple, yet profound Trinitarian gesture?
Today let us pause and think of what we are doing when we mark ourselves with the sign of the cross. What does it mean to sign myself with the Divine love that binds the Godhead as One? God said at creation, "Let us make man in our image." He spoke of Himself as "Us," implying the Trinitarian nature in which we Catholics believe. God also said that we humans would image that nature. How does my life reflect the community of love that is the Godhead? How do I image the Divine nature, which is love itself? Are mercy, grace, and faithfulness part of my identity?
Examining our relationships
The Christian God is a living being who exists in intimate relationship with us. One of the important dimensions of our Trinitarian God is the community of love and persons modeled for us in the mystery of the Holy Trinity. For Christians, the Trinity is the primary symbol of a community that is held together by containing diversity within itself. The language of Father and Son is relational language, and reminds us that, for God, as for us, created in God's image, relationship and community are primary.
Today let us examine our relationships. Do I love as God loves? Am I willing to lay down my life for those whom the Lord has given me to care for? I will remember that community and relationship are the hallmarks of the very life of God and I will pray for the grace to make these my priorities and the hallmarks of my life.
Today I will pray to the God the Father. I will ask Him to draw me closer to Him, to let me know His fatherly care. I will ponder God's great love in sending His only Son so that I might be saved and born again as His child.
Who is the Holy Spirit in my life? What does this third Person of the Trinity mean to me and how do I think of Him? Do I ever pray to the Holy Spirit? Today I will talk to the Holy Spirit. I will remember all the gifts we receive in baptism and confirmation: wisdom, understanding, right judgment, courage, knowledge, reverence, wonder and awe. I will pray that He make these gifts come alive in me. I will also pray that the Spirit dwell in me richly, producing His fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control and faithfulness.
Caritas in Veritate
54. …The Trinity is absolute unity insofar as the three divine Persons are pure relationality. The reciprocal transparency among the divine Persons is total and the bond between each of them complete, since they constitute a unique and absolute unity. God desires to incorporate us into this reality of communion as well: “that they may be one even as we are one” (Jn 17:22). The Church is a sign and instrument of this unity. Relationships between human beings throughout history cannot but be enriched by reference to this divine model. In particular, in the light of the revealed mystery of the Trinity, we understand that true openness does not mean loss of individual identity but profound interpenetration. This also emerges from the common human experiences of love and truth. Just as the sacramental love of spouses unites them spiritually in “one flesh” (Gen 2:24; Mt 19:5; Eph 5:31) and makes out of the two a real and relational unity, so in an analogous way truth unites spirits and causes them to think in unison, attracting them as a unity to itself.
[The readings for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity are: Exodus 34.4b-6, 8-9; 2 Corinthians 13.11-13; and John 3.16-18
This reflection first appeared on the Zenit International News Service in 2011 as well as on the Salt + Light Blog. The complete collection of reflections for Year B, entitled “Words made Flesh,” is now available in book form through our online store. Book editions for Year A and C reflections are coming soon.
(Holy Trinity by Henrik van Balen; Icon of the Trinity by Andrei Rublev)