Jesus never used the word “Trinity,” yet in Sunday’s readings He describes why we believe in it.
Gospel (Read Jn 16:12-15)
“Jesus said to His disciples: ‘I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when He comes, the Spirit of truth, He will guide you to all truth.”
This is such a fascinating statement by Jesus. It suggests that while He was still with the apostles, their ability to comprehend all that He was doing was limited. Even if He had explained everything that was about to happen on the night of the Last Supper in detail, it would have been lost on them. Instead, He tells them they would, at a future time, get the help they would need to absorb the truth of His life and work. That help would come in the Person of the Holy Spirit, whose descent on the apostles we celebrated last week on Pentecost.
Because of the chronology of these events, and, perhaps, even because of the way Jesus speaks about them, we might get the impression that the Holy Spirit had a kind of separate work from Jesus that could only begin once Jesus had ascended to the Father. Today, we learn why that is not quite right.
When the Holy Spirit is sent to the disciples, Jesus tells them, “He will speak what He hears…He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” Here we see that the Spirit’s work is actually rooted in Jesus. He does not work independently but in entire submission to Jesus. Likewise, Jesus works in entire submission to the Father, because “everything that the Father has” is His. This is the dynamic communion of Persons mentioned so distinctly in the Gospels.
When Christians in the first centuries of the Church read passages like this one in Scripture, they began to work out the dogma that later became known as the Trinity. Clearly there is a Father, a Son, and a Holy Spirit, and just as clearly, although different, they act as One. The communion Jesus describes here is touched by love—a willing submission and a willing sharing. How important this is for us to comprehend if we are ever to understand ourselves and to live our lives well. Because we are in the image and likeness of God, we, too, will need to live with others who are like us, and our life will need to be characterized by both willing submission and sharing.
The dogma of the Most Holy Trinity isn’t only a theological truth; it can serve as a corrective when we make our lives small (and often miserable) by selfish individualism and pride. Within the human community, our relationships can be touched by the same kind of palpable love we see in these few words about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the Gospel. This is not easy! Good thing we have a Savior Who has come to make it possible.
Possible response: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, please teach me to love as You do.
First Reading (Read Prov 8:22-31)
Occasionally, the Old Testament gives us glimpses into the communion of Divine Persons within God Who were later revealed in salvation history. This reading is one such passage. The author of the proverb writes in a poetic way about the existence of “Wisdom” long before the earth existed. The personification of Wisdom suggests that this is a description of the “Word” of God, Who eventually took on flesh and blood and was born into the world of men. See that Wisdom was there at Creation with God, “beside Him as His craftsman.”
St. John later captures this idea in the prologue of his Gospel when he writes, “[Jesus] was in the beginning with God; all things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made” (see Jn 1:2-3). We can feel the deep bond of love between God and His Wisdom: “I was His delight day by day.” Yet probably what startles and astounds us most in this passage is the last verse: “I found delight in the human race.”
The Wisdom became the Word made flesh, Who so delighted in us that He died and rose again to save us. When we contemplate this, we are led right into our responsorial psalm.
Possible response: Father, this proverb wonderfully reminds me that all Creation is permeated with Your Wisdom. The trouble I see in it is only temporary.
Psalm (Read Ps 8:4-9)
At some point, when we start to comprehend the marvel of God’s great wisdom and power, we inevitably ask the question the psalmist poses here: “What is man that You should be mindful of him, or the son of man, that You should care for Him?” We simply can’t fathom how it is that God could love us as much as He does.
God’s love isn’t simply an emotion. His love led Him to create man in His image and likeness, desiring to share His life with him, and to crown him “with glory and honor…putting all things under his feet.” The immensity of all this will make us sing out today: “O Lord, our God, how wonderful Your Name in all the earth!”
Possible response: The psalm is, itself, a response to our other readings. Read it again prayerfully to make it your own.
Second Reading (Read Rom 5:1-5)
St. Paul writes as one who has deeply contemplated the mystery of God’s love for man, and he helps us understand its implications. First, because God has done the work of salvation through Jesus Christ for us, we are “justified by faith” and not by anything that we do. This gives us “peace with God” and “access…to this grace in which we stand.” Our lives are now opened up to the healing power of God through the grace of the sacraments. St. Paul assures us that because this is true, we can boast not only about God’s glory (as we did in our psalm) but also “of our afflictions.”
How can that be? Why would anyone boast of those?
St. Paul says that because God has placed us in His peace, we can experience our afflictions as purification toward perfection—the destiny God has always had for each of us from before time began. How do we experience our afflictions that way? “The love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” In other words, the presence now of the Trinity in believers—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—has changed everything.
Possible response: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, thank You for transforming my life so completely that even my afflictions work for my good.