As the seven glorious weeks of Easter end and the Church launches into the long season of “ordinary time” we are given several important feasts to remind us of the core elements of our faith. First, we note that the Easter season concludes with the feast of Pentecost, when we mark the birth of the Church as the Holy Spirit is poured out upon the early Christians in Jerusalem.
Next, we celebrate today’s feast of Trinity Sunday, on which we reflect on the mystery of our God who is three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, yet ever one God. Then, in the coming week, the Church will observe the solemnity of Corpus Christi, honoring the Eucharist as the true Body and Blood of Christ which sustains the faithful in every generation. Finally, on Friday and Saturday respectively of the following week we rejoice in the feasts of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, upholding those images of Christ and his mother which have long had a powerful presence in the devotion of Catholics.
Returning to Trinity Sunday, one might expect the readings to be chosen from passages of the Bible which specifically invoke the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit or which refer to them prophetically. What we find, however, is that the first reading recounts the appearance of the Lord to Moses on the heights of Mount Sinai, who asks him: “If I find favor with you, O Lord, do come along in our company” (Exo 34:9). Next, instead of a responsorial Psalm, we have a hymn from the book of the prophet Daniel, who gives praise to the Lord for the wonders of creation and redemption, repeating, “Glory and praise forever!” to a series of descriptions of the majesty of God (Dan 3:52-56).
Saint Paul then weighs in, writing: “Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss” (2 Cor 13:11-12). Paul transposes to the level of human relationships the glory and joy which describe the divine presence of God in Exodus and Daniel. He takes the communion of the Holy Trinity seen in shadows in the Old Testament and urges Christians to adopt this same spirit of love and honor as the hallmark of their fellowship.
Paul concludes with the blessing: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you” (2 Cor 13:13). He shows that it is in the revelation of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—the Trinity whom we honor today—that we are invited to share in the communion that was first revealed on Sinai and is now open to all who join the Christian fellowship.
Finally, John the Evangelist confirms Paul’s invitation as he writes, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (John 3:16). Here we learn that it is through the incarnation of God’s Son that we have the opening to share in his divine life, just as he shares in our human life.
On Trinity Sunday we not only reflect on the glory of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we are welcomed into their midst as adopted sons and daughters in Christ—and then sent forth to share with all whom we encounter the same grace of communion we have received. That is cause for us to sing together, “Glory and praise forever!”
Father Edward Mazich, O.S.B.
Artwork: Holy Trinity, by Sandro Botticelli