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Listening to the Word

Holy Trinity Sunday 'A'

Ex 34: 4b-6, 8-9

Resp. Psalm: Dn 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56

2 Cor 13: 11-13

Jn 3: 16-18

Today’s feast invites us to live in the awareness of the presence of the Triune God within us: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The mystery of the Holy Trinity, a doctrine enunciated by the ecumenical councils of Nicaea and Constantinople, is one of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity, and the greatest mystery of our Faith, namely, that there are Three Divine Persons, sharing the same Divine Nature in one God. There is one God, who has three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Each Person is God, yet there is still only one God. We have the Father Who is the Creator, Son, the Redeemer and Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier and the Counselor.


The doctrine of Three Persons in one God, one in Divine Nature yet really distinct in Person and Equal in all things, is not explicitly spelt out in the Bible. Even the very word “Trinity” is not found in the Bible. But the doctrine of the Trinity underlies all major Christian feasts, including Christmas, the Epiphany, Good Friday, Easter, the Ascension and Pentecost. All the official prayers of the Church, including the Holy Mass and the Sacraments, begin with an address to the Holy Trinity: “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” We are baptized, absolved of our sins and anointed in the name of the Blessed Trinity: God the Father (the Provider); God the Son (the Savior); and God the Holy Spirit (The Sanctifier). We bless ourselves with the sign of the cross invoking the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and we conclude our prayers glorifying the Holy Trinity, saying “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.”


Today’s readings convey the fundamental Mystery that the Triune God reaches out to people in love, seeking the deepest communion.

The First Reading, from the Book of Exodus, describes how God revealed His name to Moses as “Yahweh,” which means “I am Who am.”  But orthodox Jews never used that name. They addressed God by calling Him Lord. The passage also is as close as the Bible comes to giving a definition of God. According to that text, the Lord is “a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.” Every part of that statement stresses God in relationship to humankind, and it emphasizes especially God’s great love for us. The revelation of God’s nature as Triune was made by Jesus. In fact the very word "Trinity,” referring to Three Persons in one God, one in Godhead yet distinct in Person, is not explicitly spelled out in the Bible, although the doctrine on Trinity is mentioned about forty times in the New Testament without using the term “Trinity.” Rather, the early Church arrived at the doctrine of the Trinity when she reflected on the Revelation which she had received from Jesus in Faith.

Today’s Second Reading from 2 Corinthians contains the ancient apostolic blessing in the name of the Holy Trinity: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” Paul reminds the people of the Father’s love, the grace that comes through Jesus Christ and the fellowship or the unifying power of the Holy Spirit. The word “grace” refers to Divine favor. In Christ, God has shown favor toward us humans, a special care for us and a desire that through Jesus’ life, death and Resurrection we might find and enjoy a right relationship with God. We often use the phrase “the love of God” to describe our response to God and our duty to love God. But what comes first is God’s love for us. The Scriptures emphasize that God has loved us first and that our love for God is only a fitting response.


"And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit": The Holy Spirit shapes and animates the life of the Christian community. In other words, we live our Christian lives in the fellowship formed by the Holy Spirit because it is He Who guides, empowers and teaches in Christ’s place and brings us together in Faith, Love and Hope. We usually attribute creation to the Father, redemption to the Son and sanctification to the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, though they are distinct as Persons, neither the Father nor the Son nor the Holy Spirit ever exists in separation or acts in isolation from the other Two Persons of the Godhead.  The inner relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is such that each of them is fully God, yet They are not three Gods but one. This is not comprehendible by the human mind.  It is a Mystery.

The Gospel comes from the story of Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus. Jesus speaks about the Father who has sent Him (the Son), and after the Last Supper, He speaks about the Holy Spirit Whom he will send. He says that the Father has given Him (the Son) all that He has and that Jesus, in turn, has given to the Holy Spirit all that he has received from the Father. In this we see the unity of purpose among the Three Persons of the Trinity.

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