Sunday, May 26, 2013

Year C Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Readings: Pvbs 8:22-31; Ps 8:4-9; Rom 5:1-5; John 16:12-15

For those who might be unaware, today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, known more simply as Trinity Sunday. While the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, which is best summarized as one God in three divine Persons, sits atop the hierarchy of truth, we do not start from the top and work our way down. Rather we begin at the bottom and work up. Our starting point is the Incarnation of the Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ.

To acknowledge Jesus as Lord requires a revelation (Matt. 16:17; 1 Cor. 12:3). We make a mistake to think that revelation is something that always crashes in from above. Very often revelation is something that happens in the here and now that is unveiled before our eyes. Explaining the rationale for writing his book At the Origin of the Christian Claim, Msgr. Luigi Giussani wrote- “I have tried to show the evidence for the reasonableness with which we attach ourselves to Christ, and then are led by the experience of the encounter with His humanity to the great question about His divinity. What makes us grow and broadens our mind is not abstract reasoning, but finding in humanity a moment when the truth is reached and spoken.”

A good example of what Giussani describes is Jesus walking with the Twelve on the road to Caesarea-Phillipi. As they’re walking along, Jesus asks them who people are say He (Jesus) is. They tell Him all the rumors, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (Matt 16:14). He then asks the Twelve the only question that really matters: “But who do you say that I am?” It is Peter who steps forward and boldly proclaims, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matt 16:15-16). This prompts the Lord to say, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father” (Matt 16:17). Now plenty of people had witnessed Jesus doing and saying the things Peter saw Him do and heard Him teach, but not everyone was able to reach the conclusion Peter reached concerning Jesus’ identity.

Sunday after Sunday, when we come to Mass, we enter a moment when the truth is spoken. While this is true of the entire Eucharistic liturgy, this happens in a very specific way during the Liturgy of the Word, when the Scriptures are proclaimed out loud in and to the assembly. Hearing the Scriptures proclaimed is a moment when, as in the consecration of Eucharistic elements, Christ is made really and truly present by the power of the Holy Spirit, who, as the Lord tells His disciples in our Gospel today, does “not speak on his own,” but speaks only what he hears (John 16:13).

What the Holy Spirit speaks glorifies Christ Jesus. As the Lord told the Twelve, the Spirit “will take from what is mine and declare it to you” (John 16:14). He further tells them that everything the Father possesses He gives to the Son. The Son, in turn, gives it to the Spirit who, as St. Paul tells us in our second reading, pours it into our hearts (Rom. 5:5).

As Blessed Pope John Paul II said, “The Father who begets loves the Son who is begotten. The Son loves the Father with a love which is identical with that of the Father. “The Father and the Son,” John Paul II further stated, “are not only united by [their] mutual love as two Persons infinitely perfect,” but “their reciprocal love… proceeds,” to use the word from the Creed, “from them as a person.” Hence, the Father and the Son “spirate,” or breathe, the Holy Spirit, who is “consubstantial with them” (General Audience 20 November 1985).

To be “inspired” is to be breathed into. This is why St. Paul tells us that “the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Rom. 5:5). It is God’s whole purpose to share this divine life with us, to draw us into the very life of the Most Holy Trinity. This is the end for which we are created, redeemed, and for which we are being sanctified, in no way more than our participation in this Eucharist, which itself is a participation, a foretaste, of life everlasting, which can only be divine life.

When we gather for Mass, we witness the dynamic of the Most Holy Trinity for ourselves. One way that this unfolds before us is when priest pronounces the epiclesis, a Greek word meaning “to call down from on high,” over the gifts on the altar, saying something like, “You are indeed Holy, O Lord, the fount of all holiness. Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dew-fall, so that they may become for us the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eucharistic Prayer II).

But how does this look in so-called “real” life? How do we start out from below, from what is right in front of us and so move to what is above? Well, just this past week a very dear friend of mine from high-school, a committed Evangelical Christian from her teen years, who lives in Florida and is now in the process of becoming Catholic, was having a lovely day off. As a registered nurse and busy mother of several teenagers, she was taking a day for herself. She’d visited the beauty salon and was headed to get a massage. As she stopped for a light, “Boom!” Someone had rear-ended her. I am quite certain that something like, “Oh great, the end of my well-planned ‘me” day,” was what went through her mind.

She soon discovered that the person who hit her was a woman in her 80s, someone who had never been in a car accident before, and who felt terrible about what she had done. As my friend spoke to her, she discovered that she was a widow, who never had children, owned no pets, who had moved to Florida to take care of her ailing brother, who passed away four years ago. She was pretty much all alone. My friend, who started out angry, soon realized that she was keeping an appointment God had set up for her. I have to admit I choked up when I received this “tweet” from my friend concerning her new friend: “We will be going to lunch soon. Ah The Lord and His mysterious ways!”

It is fitting that Trinity Sunday is always the Sunday following Pentecost because it gives us an opportunity to synthesize the great Paschal Mystery we live so intensely over the fifty days of Easter. Today we are urged to continue living out this great mystery of love in which, by God’s grace, we participate. So, in the concrete circumstances of our everyday lives, let’s bring God’s love to bear wherever we may find ourselves, and so play our part in showing forth how wonderful is God’s name throughout all the earth.

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