Greetings on this the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
Readings: EX 34:4B-6, 8-9; DN 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56; 2 COR 13:11-13; JN 3:16-18
The Christian belief of a triune God can be a challenge for those of other traditions. It is a revelation that comes about after the Pentecost event when the gift of the Holy Spirit is poured out.
Parts of Triune belief are rather easy. If God is Father and God is unchanging then one would conclude He is Father from all eternity. If so then Son (Jesus) is Son from all eternity. If the Son is co-eternal with the Father then he is equal in substance to God because there is no intermediate step or time of becoming Son rather he simply is the same substance of the Father since there is no division within him (he is One).
It get harder to accept the Holy Spirit using that same logic. Instead one must consider the experience of the Holy Spirit. Believers who surrender to the love of God in baptism and confirmation experience the personal relationship (we call it personhood) of the Holy Spirit. In addition, one would consider the mission of the Spirit which is a natural outflow form the Divine love expressed between Father and Son (here you are good to reread the Gospel of John and see how the love between Father and Son is a crucial component of the Gospel message and always presented within the continuing mission of the Holy Spirit to ‘sanctify them in the truth’.
So much is written on the topic and ‘getting it’ is a fleeting endeavor. Bringing into alignment Faith and Reason is a worthy journey but one that will never end in this life.
I don’t want my inferior attempts to bruise your faith in any way. So allow me to say it this way.
God has revealed to us that at His center is a dynamic, perpetual, always refreshed, never changing mystery of love. He is self-giving even within himself. He wants us to experience him not as simply ‘God’ like so many pagan thinking. Rather as a divine, all powerful self-giving love in the person of the Father who loves us without end, in the person of the Son who redeems us from our follies, and in the person of the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us from the inside out.
Perhaps the first reading might help.
In Sunday’s reading the first is the giving of the Law a second time. Yes, the tablets of the Commandments had to be recreated and represented to the people.
What happened? You recall that after the first set of tablets were given Moses came down from the mountain and found the people had rebelled casting the bronze calf.
Moses was not pleased. In fact Moses anger burned hot, he threw the tablets to the ground and they shattered at the foot of the mountain.
Hey, Moses was a good man of course. He even challenged God to not harm the people as God had warned Moses the people had revolted. But… but…
When Moses saw the golden calf his true, deeper feelings came out. He was pissed! His piety was enraged. He in that moment decided to deny them the Law and went about cleaning up the mess by slaying 3,000 sinners.
[Note: please allow the author of the Exodus his writing as he is writing to illustrate deep spiritual meaning. That being at the core Moses had more sanctification to go through for surely his outrage and outrageous murder was not the will of God. But I don’t want to ruin the story].
In the intervening time period (we are in Exodus 32, 33, 34 – sorry forgot to tell you) Moses is changing. Moses is being sanctified.
When Moses was ready he was given gifts.
- A new set of tablets to replace the old ones.
- A theophany. God appears to Moses.
God says, ‘the Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness’.
Moses quickly bowed his head and worshiped.
The LAW was given and poorly received in the heart both by Moses and the People although in different ways.
This time, the LAW is encased in the understanding of mercy, grace, steadfast love and faithfulness.
By now you should be able to accept this conclusion.
The TEN COMMANDMENTS are NOTHING (shattered) if not encased in the relation of mercy, grace, steadfast love and faithfulness.
Paul, knowing all this, perhaps for the first time prescribes a similar reengagement.
Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.
So the Gospel message on Trinity Sunday honors the Trinity in this way. The very center of the inter-dynamics of God is love. God is love. Superabundant love. Beyond natural love. Self-giving, self-denial love.
We are condemned only if we refuse the way of sanctification. Moses for all his beautiful piety needed a serious realignment.
God provided. Moses accepted. And then the true meaning of divine law can then take root.
This is our journey too.
If you are using the divine law as a hammer, then perhaps you think everyone is a nail to be pounded into your view of righteousness.
Moses needed correction. So do you.
Peace be with you,