Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

With last week’s celebration of Pentecost we officially put the season of Easter behind us.  But in typical Catholic style, we’re not quite ready to end the party.  We open this period of Ordinary Time with two very important Solemnities:  This week, the Most Holy Trinity (Trinity Sunday) and next week, the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi).

Proverbs 8:22-31
Psalm 8:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Romans 5:1-5
John 16:12-15

We open this Solemnity with a reading from the Book of Proverbs.  One of the early wisdom books, a large portion of the book is considered to be a collection of the sayings from King Solomon.  While portions of the text do date to the early monarchy, scholars also believe the book continued to be edited and developed through to the post-exilic period.  One of the trademarks of wisdom literature in the Bible is that wisdom itself is personified (often as a beautiful woman). 

Our passage for this Sunday is unique in that instead of presenting wisdom and her lessons in the third person, Wisdom herself is the narrator.  This is an important point, because the opening line of the reading can cause us some confusion with the rest of the text.  Our passage opens with, “Thus says the wisdom of God:”  That might cause us to think that God himself is talking to us, which makes the rest of the text very confusing.  We so often hear prophetic readings open with “Thus says the Lord,” so we can easily mistake this opening as something similar.  If we were to think that, however, passages like “When the Lord established the heavens I was there, ” would give us pause.  If God himself was speaking that makes it sound like God is talking about himself in the third person, or worse, wasn’t alone at the creation.  When we consider that it is Wisdom herself speaking, as a wholly separate person, the reading makes much more sense, reminding us that Wisdom was always with God, and is working alongside God.  The importance of this reading for this particular Sunday to remind us of God the Father and creator.  Our Psalm reminds us of the beauty of his creation when we sing, “O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth.”

Our second reading is a short passage from Paul’s letter to the Romans.  Here Paul reminds us that God the Son, Jesus Christ, is the integral component of the Trinity, for it is through Christ we have peace with God, and through Christ we receive the Holy Spirit.  It is through Christ that our faith is justified, and through Christ we are able to live that faith.

So with God the Father and God the Son represented in our readings, God in the form of the Holy Spirit is the message from our Gospel from John.  Our passage, from the Farewell discourse right before the Passion, has Jesus telling his disciples about the “Spirit of truth.”  Jesus knows what is about to happen, and he knows his disciples are still not ready for how events will be unfolding soon.  He reminds them that the Spirit will guide them and tell them what to do.  He concludes by reminding them that God has given him everything, and that now he gives it to them.

Final thoughts:
Our Trinitarian understanding of God is a core element of our faith, and it is our baptism in the Trinitarian form (In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit) that binds us to the Christian community.  Pentecost, which we celebrated last Sunday, marks the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples, providing that final piece of the puzzle that reveals our Trinitarian understanding of God.  It seems only fitting then that we celebrate the Trinity as we begin our long journey through Ordinary Time.  During the Easter Season the nature of our God is revealed.  Now as we enter into Ordinary Time the lessons of Christ will be revealed as we journey through his ministry together.

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