11 June 2017: Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Reading 1 Response Reading 2 Gospel
Ex 34:4b-6, 8-9 Dn 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56 2 Cor 13:11-13 Jn 3:16-18

The Trinity: known, knowable, unknowable

White_gold_banner_sm On the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, the Lectionary readings reveal God as known, knowable, and unknowable; or as revealed, disclosing, and mysterious. The readings express the believing community’s experience of God’s three-fold relationship with them.

In the first reading, from Exodus, God proclaims God’s own name (YHWH, translated as “the LORD”) to Moses, revealing God’s relationship with the Israelites: “merciful and gracious, slow-to-anger, overflowing in loving-kindness and faithfulness.” Christian readers of Hebrew scripture should not equate YHWH with the First Person of the Trinity (the Father), but should understand YHWH as all three Persons.

In the second reading, Paul closes his second letter to the Corinthian ekklasia with a familiar three-fold blessing. Paul’s blessing encapsulates the believing community’s experience of God’s relationship: Christ’s gift of grace, the Father’s gift of love, and the Spirit’s gift of unity or fellowship. Paul expects his letter to be read just before the community’s Eucharistic meal, which will make God’s grace, love, and unity fully present to the ekklasia.

In the gospel, John concludes Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus with a succinct summary of his gospel: the Father gave his only son so that everyone might experience eternal life. This is how the believing community experiences the Trinity’s relationship: the Father’s love sends the Son to heal/to save our broken relationships with God and each other. (We have broken these relationships through our own selfish choices, or sin.) When the Son heals these relationships, we experience God’s own life (eternal life) in the Spirit–who is the Giver of Life.

Human experiences help us to know God, and to understand that God is knowable. At the same time, God remains unknowable–what human can understand why God acts or why God chooses to break into human time and history? We do know that the Son reveals the Father and continues to disclose the Father’s love for us though the Spirit’s abiding, mysterious sacramental presence.

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity reminds us that we can and do know God through revelation and through our own experiences. This feast also encourages us to explore the mystery of God through prayer, liturgy, and reflection to bring us into closer relationship with God’s grace, love, and unity.

—Terence Sherlock

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