The Holy Trinity – 22 May 2016

"The God that is Trinity"

Scripture Reading – John 16:12-15

Jesus said:
‘I still have many things to say to you
but they would be too much for you now.
But when the Spirit of truth comes
he will lead you to the complete truth,
since he will not be speaking as from himself
but will say only what he has learnt;
and he will tell you of the things to come.
He will glorify me,
since all he tells you
will be taken from what is mine.
Everything the Father has is mine;
that is why I said:
All he tells you
will be taken from what is mine.’

Gospel reading – Courtesy of Universalis Publishing Ltd. – www.universalis.com

REFLECTION

“The God that is Trinity”

by Fr Paddy Hennessy SDB

Introduction
• Ready, Steady, Go are the words we often use to start off a race where we want those competing to start together and not favour one over the other
• In nature an apple has a skin, the pulp and the core, an egg has a shell, the white and yellow…
• Our daily lives on the roads are governed by the three colours of red, amber and green in the form of our traffic lights…

‘Three’ in Scripture
• In the New Testament the number 3 occurs throughout many of the events of Jesus’s life and in the lives of his followers:
o The Magi gave Jesus three gifts
o Satan tempted Jesus three times.
o The ministry of Jesus lasted three years.
o During the Agony in the Garden, Christ asked three times for the chalice to be taken from his lips.
o Saint Peter denied Jesus three times but post resurrection receives the opportunity to make amends, again 3 times…
o Jesus rose from the dead on the third day.
o Paul the Apostle went blind for three days after his conversion to Christianity..
• Over the Easter season we are asked to express our joy in the Paschal mystery by not just saying Alleluia once but three times at the end of our Eucharist

For St Patrick
• God was the triune God, the God that is Trinity
• In the life and faith of this Saint of Ireland:
o God is the un-begotten Father who has no beginning but who is the origin of all beginning
o Jesus is the Father’s son who became man, defeated death and was received into heaven
o The Spirit is announced by Jesus. The Spirit is the gift and pledge of immortality, making us into the Sons and Daughters of God and joint heirs with the Christ…
• St Patrick’s faith in the Triune God is simple, direct, biblical and grounded.
• Patrick presented himself and the Chrisitan Faith in a way that many could grasp and own for themselves just as Jesus does in the gospels.

In our gospel today…
• Jesus is setting the stage for his upcoming death, resurrection and ascension. The disciples are understanbily terrified. Their lives are about to take a dramatic turn. How are they going to survive without Jesus as their leader and guide? It could just as easily be our own question for today
• Fortunately Jesus offers an answer to this question. He promises another helper, another source of truth, another advocate…The Spirit. This Spirit is not bound by the limitations of time and space.
• The Spirit will lead us to the truth, will speak with the authority of God, sharing with us the thinking of God. He will guide us in our work for life and for our God.
To speak of Trinity…
• Is to speak of mystery, a mystery that seems strangely familiar as I have suggested with the prominence of the concept of three thoughout our lives yet is also very distant and confusing…
• The Jesuit Donal Neary describes mystery in terms of a “Hand to be Held rather than a problem to be solved”
• He invites us to look at the Andrew Rublev’s famous icon of the Trinity. Based on prayerful reflection of Abraham’s hospitality to three travelling angels in the book of Genesis, it presents the image of three figures seated around a table with a welcoming space left to the front of the table…
• The table fellowship remains open for the viewer or the passer-by to stop and place themselves in the presence of the three stately figure as they gather to bless and share the chalice on the table…
• In life we are not just meant to nomads or stones moving in isolation…we are community, we are family, we are church together with a God who is Father, Son and Spirit….
• The Trinity invites us never to be alone but to be brother and sister for each other and for the Kingdom with the Triune God at is head…

LECTIO DIVINA

by Fr Juan José Bartolomé SDB

Introduction to Lectio Divine

After celebrating the central mysteries of our faith, we return to ordinary time, during which we will accompany Jesus through the land of Galilee as the disciples did in the past, listening to his preaching on the kingdom and assisting at the miracles worked by his hand. This gives us a new opportunity to learn gradually from Jesus, and to allow ourselves to be healed from our infirmities, while we journey through life, walking by his side and following in his footsteps. But before we begin this journey, the Church invites us today to concentrate our attention – and hopefully also our hearts – on God alone, and to contemplate God’s most intimate mystery, his very being as one God in three divine persons.

Read: understand what the text is saying, focussing on how it says it

The text is a very short extract from a long farewell discourse (Jn 13-17). It foretells the coming of the Spirit and the mission he will fulfil on his arrival: he will speak, communicate and guide the disciples towards the truth. Jesus foretells also his own departure: he will leave the disciples alone, without understanding everything, but he promises to send them his Spirit, the Paraclete, who will be their teacher and guide. The Spirit is given the task of revelation. There was a time – the time when the disciples were living with Jesus – which was not enough for them to receive all the knowledge of God: Jesus himself admits it. There will be a time, the time of the Spirit, when he will lead them to the truth, sharing with them knowledge of what is still to come. This is the promise Jesus made. Although he spoke about all that he had heard from the Father (Jn 15, 15), Jesus would have liked to give them more than what he did reveal. The Spirit will make up for what he did not teach (Jn 16, 12).

The Spirit is not in competition, therefore, with Jesus, but completes his work. He will guide the community to the full truth as he inaugurates the time of prefect knowledge of the words of Jesus. To speak, listen and proclaim are the three verbs that specify the action of the Spirit. His action is, therefore, analogous to that of the Son: he will speak of what he has heard and proclaim what is to come.

The coming of the Spirit does not mark the end of the story, but a new stage which begins with the departure of Jesus, and will end with his second coming. In the meantime, the community will have the Spirit, the best possible guarantee of a correct understanding of their own history, which is to be judged in the light of Jesus’ preaching continued by the Paraclete. Neither Jesus nor the Spirit is the origin of the revelation that they communicate at different times and in different ways. It is not only a question of words, or simply knowledge, but of life, and of all that Jesus possesses, because everything he possesses belongs to the Father, and all that the Spirit communicates is taken from what belongs to the Son. The Spirit receives and knows, and therefore guarantees, all that is communicated to the community (Jn 16, 15).
The revelation of the Son and of the Spirit, involves God personally and ‘explains’ his threefold personal relationship. The Father is at the origin, he has everything that is said of the Son. What the Spirit reveals is only what he has heard and taken from the Son. The Son is glorified when the Spirit communicates all that he has learnt from him. Salvation is seen here as a revelation of the Son. The Triune God is totally immersed in this, and the three persons are differentiated. The Father, Son and Spirit are involved in the revelation of the Christ.

Meditate: apply what the text says to life

Before leaving his disciples, Jesus promises to send them his Spirit. His words foretell the experience of the disciples who will suffer because of the physical absence of their Lord, an experience which marks the situation of disciples at the present time. But in his discourse there is also the assurance that they will not be left unprotected: the Spirit who will come will continue the work and the teaching of Jesus. The Spirit must continue to speak where Jesus has chosen to remain silent, and he will make known what they have grasped only vaguely. He will help the disciples to fulfil what Jesus has asked of them, and to bear with his absence. He will open them to the truth and lead them to it. The Spirit continues the work of Jesus. The Spirit is their food for the journey, their guide and companion, and head of the Church until the Lord comes again. Whoever suffers, in whatever way and for whatever reason, on account of the absence of Jesus, can live with certainty under the protection of God’s Spirit. This is no small promise.

In the face of mystery, every mystery, all that remains to the human person is to accept or refuse. A mystery is, by definition, something which cannot be affirmed or denied, and which does not reveal its secret to us. We do not grasp the existence of mystery by understanding it. To understand it would be to deny that it is a mystery. There is another more honest way to accept mystery and that is to respect and admire it. The only legitimate way for us humans to react to mystery is to stand in awe and wonder. When we contemplate a mystery, it attracts us if we believe it has some good for us, or it frightens us if we think it threatens our existence. There is no greater mystery for us to contemplate than the mystery of our God. However sure we may be of God, we cannot fully understand him. Even if we never doubt the existence of God, we can never understand him as he really is. God is not an insoluble enigma, but for the believer God is always a question to which there is no answer, a challenge that remains always unanswered. From what Jesus has told us, there are some things we are unable to bear now, without the Spirit. “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” Without the Spirit, the gospel is unbearable. Each one of us should ask himself or herself: what does this say of me? Do I find things in Jesus that I cannot bear? This is a good occasion for me to acknowledge that there are some things that Jesus has said, that I have not yet accepted, and acknowledging this could be a way for me to begin to walk with the Spirit.

Without revealing the intimate mystery of God, Jesus has revealed how he wants God to be for us. His word and his life have spoken to us of a God who loves us so much, in three different ways. God loves us as a Father. He thought of us when nothing yet existed, and he gave us a place in his heart before he made us the work of his hands. He loves us as Son, taking on our image, living as one of us and dying for us all. He loves us as Spirit, coming down on us as the divine breath and remaining with us, while we journey towards God, groping our way and sometimes lost. Jesus speaks to us about this God, this Trinity who has shown his love for us in a threefold way, but he does not clarify the mystery of God. If anything, he makes God three times as mysterious. But he has revealed to us something of the intimate nature of God, something that we would never even have suspected. God is not one mystery, but three. God is not one person, but a community, a family. That, at least, is how he wants to be for us.

We Christians have not only one God who is good, but – pardon the expression – a whole trio of gods. To be always present for us, God has been multiplied. God has shown himself as Father, Son and Spirit. In order to show better his love for us, God has revealed himself as Father, Son and Spirit. We would be wasting our time, and we would lose God, if we tried to understand the reasons God has for loving us so much. But if we allow ourselves to be loved by this Triune God, we might appreciate the imagination and the effort that God has squandered, in order to love us in ways that are both personal and distinct, both real and divine. The more we know we are loved by God, the better will we come to know him. When we know that God’s nature is Love, and when we feel profoundly loved by God, we enter the depths of God’s being. We live the mystery of God without needing to understand it. We know that God loves us, without having to understand God. He understands us, but we don’t have to understand him. We have no right to complain about God, nor reason to think that God does not love us, when we realize that in order to show his love for us, he has “multiplied himself by three”.

Jesus himself assures us of this in today’s Gospel. Before leaving his disciples in the world, he promised them his Spirit. He was able to do so, because everything he had, Jesus had received from the Father. He has given us what he received from the Father. His Spirit would take his place as he had taken the place of the Father while he was with them. All the things that Jesus could not say to them when he was with them, the Spirit can now say. Even though he is no longer with them, Jesus has not abandoned his disciples , By giving them his Spirit, he has given them a better teacher than himself, one who will always be with us, wherever we are, as long as we acknowledge that he is dwelling in us. Wherever we go, the Spirit will go before us as our guide, if we allow ourselves to be guided by him. The Spirit will remind us of Jesus when everything around us makes us forget about him. He will make the demands of Jesus easier, for he will give us the strength we need to live by them.

To all who feel his absence and who remain faithful in trying to do his will, Jesus has left the Spirit which gave life to him when he was on earth, the breath that he had received from the Father. When he had to return to the Father, Jesus wanted to remain with us, and he left us the best of himself, the Spirit he had received from God. The disciple of Jesus, who now is the disciple of the Spirit, not only learns to know the will of God, but learns especially how much God loves him. To live by the Spirit of Jesus is to live the threefold love that God has for us and which keeps us in him. We have access to this God who leaves his mark in our hearts, if we live by the Spirit that Jesus has left us.

Jesus did not only speak to us about this personal God who loves us three times over in three different ways. He also gave us the proof of this love of God. His Spirit is all that Jesus left us so that, guided by the Spirit, we might be led to God. It would be of little benefit to us today if we were to profess God as one and three, but did not come to feel that we are loved by God. There is no advantage in knowing that there are three distinct divine persons in God, if we do not realize that they are interested in us, all three of them, in three distinct ways. There is no good believing in God as Father, Son and Spirit, if we do not also believe that we are sons or daughters, brothers or sisters, and temples of this Triune God.

We must the take seriously the Trinity we celebrate today. We must allow ourselves to be surprised by the knowledge that, in order to be close to us, God is three distinct persons in his way of acting, but remains one in his love. To believe in the Trinity today means to know that we are loved by God three times over. This is the reason for our celebration today. We ought to make it our reason for giving thanks always to God. Who can claim to have such a God? Who but we can boast of a God who loves us so much? We should try then to live, accepting the mystery of God and enjoying his love. It is the Triune God who reveals Christ. For us, the way to receive God is by receiving Christ. Accepting Christ into our lives means entering into a relationship with God who is Father, Son and Spirit. Can we hope for anything more?

PRAYER

God our Father,
you revealed the great mystery of your godhead to men
when you sent into the world
the Word who is Truth
and the Spirit who makes us holy.
Help us to believe in you and worship you,
as the true faith teaches:
three Persons, eternal in glory,
one God, infinite in majesty.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

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