Daily Readings for Mass.
(Liturgical Calendar for Ireland, 2019)

16 June. The Most Holy Trinity

1st Reading: Proverbs 8:22-31

Wisdom is the first-born of creation

The Lord created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago.

Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth ?
when he had not yet made earth and fields, or he world's first bits of soil.
When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master worker; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race.

2nd Reading: Romans 5:1-5

Peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ

Brothers and sisters, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Gospel: John 16:12-15

When the Spirit of truth comes

Jesus said to his disciples, "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you."


Not a remote God

In bygone times most people believed in the existence of God. Their religious quarrels were about conflicting beliefs about God, rather than a conflict of theism versus atheism. This is not the case nowadays. Not only do many openly profess their lack of faith, but the lifestyles we pursue often promote a kind of atheism in all of us. Especially in city life, in a world of man-made structures, people are at a distance from the reflective pull of nature. And with digital broadband, even country folk tend to feel in some degree God's apparent remoteness. God is mysteriously silent, hidden to the end of our earthly days.

Today we celebrate the Most Holy Trinity, the rich, ethereal mystery of God's inner life as one divine nature shared between three persons. This is a profound mystery, although the veil which covers it is lifted ever so little. The Bible says that not only is our God a personal God, but that God exists as three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, while remaining one God. Our faith enables us to relish the presence and love of God even though it is beyond our understanding. St Augustine wonders about this in a beautiful passage from his "Confessions". "What do I love when I love my God?" he asks. He answers, "Not material beauty or beauty of a temporal order; not the brilliance of earthly light, so welcome to our eyes; not the sweet melody of harmony and song; not the fragrance of flowers, perfumes and spices; not manna or honey; not limbs such as the body delights to embrace. It is not these that I love when I love my God. And yet, when I love him, it is true that I love a light of a certain kind, a voice, a perfume, a food, an embrace; but they are of the kind that I love in my inner self."

Seeing God face to face will change us utterly, and this salvation is a pure gift willed by the Father, announced by his divine Son, and made effective in each of us through the Holy Spirit. St Paul taught that "in one Spirit we have access through Christ to the Father" (Eph 2:18). But to gain that access, God's reaching down to us must be matched by our up-reaching to God. The initiative is from God, as Paul says, "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us." To respond to this we need to let go of whatever sinful habits hold us captive. Then like mirrors we will reflect the brightness of the Lord, and be changed into that image which we reflect (2 Cor 3:17f). For this great promise, glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, forever, Amen.

Three to make us think

The most heated debates in the past two centuries were prompted by the ideas of three outstanding figures, Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx, whom some have called "the unholy trinity." Between them they pushed western thought into new avenues, often in spite of our strong reluctance. Though based on a remarkable series of fossils, Charles Darwin's theory of evolution was greeted at first with angry derision, and he had to battle hard to prove it. Sigmund Freud opened up the human unconscious in ways that profoundly changed conventional attitudes to how we think and feel. And the radical communist theories of Karl Marx came to polarise our planet, dividing it between communism and capitalism, with a large swathe of social democracy in between. Of the three, only Darwin's theory of evolution remain relatively intact. History has largely undermined the optimism of Karl Marx; and many of Freud's theories are nowadays regarded as over-generalised from his clinically ill patients. Time has taken its toll of "the unholy trinity."

The real Holy Trinity, whom we celebrate today, is beyond the reach of time and the grasp of human reasoning. It is a profound mystery of faith. We can only fumble in the dark in search of glimmers of light. In the gospels, the figure three symbolises completeness and perfect symmetry, and re-appears at key moments of the Christ story. His life itself reflected the mystery of Trinity. Three figures make up the nativity scene in Bethlehem, the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Their first visitors were the three wise men. Later, in the desert preparing for his public life, Jesus was tempted three times by the devil. A good story should have a beginning, a middle and an end. For Jesus, the storyteller par excellence, three figures often feature in his parables. The Prodigal Son is about a father and his two sons; the Good Samaritan tells of the behaviour of three passers-by, the priest, the Levite and the Samaritan; the sower sowed his seed in three different types of terrain, yielding three different levels of harvest. The end of his life, as the beginning, has again the three-motif. During his Passion, Peter denied him thrice. The crucifixion scene has three figures, Christ between two thieves. Before his resurrection, he spent three days in the tomb.

God is love. There are Three Persons in the Holy Trinity whom we name as Father Son and Holy Spirit. Their mutual interactions represent the fullness of love. The Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Father; and we may picture the Holy Spirit as the outpouring of their love. In our innermost selves, we are made in the image of this triune God, of  God the Father, who created us, of the Son who saved us, and of the Holy Spirit who continues to guide us. Something in our lives should reflect the Trinity, in whom we live and move and have our being. At our God-driven best, we are creative like the Father, compassionate like his Son, and dispose our talents in the service of others like the Holy Spirit.

Opening ourselves to God's Mystery

Throughout the centuries, theologians have made great efforts to approach God's mystery by formulating in different concepts the relationships that bind and distinguish the divine persons in the Trinity. Legitimate effort, undoubtedly, born of love and a desire for closeness to God. But Jesus, from his personal experience of God, invites his followers to confidently relate with God as our Father, faithfully follow the footsteps of the Son of God incarnate, and let ourselves be guided and encouraged by the Holy Spirit. Thus he teaches us to open ourselves to God's holy mystery.

Above all, Jesus invites his followers to live as daughters and sons of a God who is close, good and tender, one that we can love as a dear Father. What characterizes this Father isn't power or threat, but goodness and compassion. No one is fully alone, for we all have a Father who understands us, loves us and forgives us like nobody else. Jesus reveals that this Father has a project of the heart: to create among us a more human and fraternal world, a world of justice and of solidarity. Jesus calls it "God's Reign" and invites us to join this great project, seeking a more just and dignified life for all, starting with people who are poorest, most defenseless, most in need. He invites us to trust also in him. He is God's Son, the living image of his Father. His words and actions revealed how the Father of all loves us. That's why he invites all to follow him. He teaches us to live in loyal service to the Father's project.

With his group of followers, Jesus wants to form a new family where all seek to "fulfill the Father's will." This is the inheritance he left behind, a movement of brothers and sisters in a spirit of family unity. That family will be a symbol and seed of the renewed world that the Father wants.

Holy Trinity Sunday invites us to welcome the Spirit who breathes out the Father and Jesus the Son: "You will receive the power of the Holy Spirit who will come upon you and thus you will be my witnesses." This Spirit is God's love, the breath that the Father and Jesus the Son share, the power, the impulse and the vital energy that will make us his co-workers in the service of the grand project of the Holy Trinity.