John 3: 16-18 June 19, 2011
John tells us that he has written his gospel so that we may come to believe in Jesus, the Son of God, and thus have life in his name. To help us come to belief, John throughout his gospel talks about people like us — some who believe, some who half-believe, some who refuse to believe. The context of this gospel passage is the story of Nicodemus. Nicodemus comes to Jesus “at night” and represents those of us who hold back, and thus never completely leave the darkness to enter the light and love of eternal life.
The first sentence of the passage summarizes not only our Trinity Sunday gospel, but John’s entire gospel about the meaning of Jesus and the meaning of our human existence: “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.”
The feast of the Holy Trinity reminds us that every Sunday’s gospel helps unfold the mystery of divine life: in each gospel Jesus makes the Father’s truth and love present in the world through the power of the Holy Spirit. Every Sunday’s Eucharist is the prayer of the church in living communion with the Risen Lord praising the Father through the power of the Spirit. Every good work we do is to share in Christ’s mission of making the Father’s truth and love present in the world because we share Christ’s Spirit. And we experience even now in faith some fulfillment of our human existence through the peace and joy of living in the communion of divine love with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The gospel of Trinity Sunday further reminds us of the constant reality which Jesus addresses in every gospel of the church year. That reality is the “world” which God loves so much as to give it his only Son. We are that world — human beings tragically alienated from God, alienated from each other, alienated from our own deepest personal identity as children of God. This is the world described in the first chapters of Genesis, in every evening’s TV news, in our own experience of life.
Particularly this year when many in our world seem to prefer darkness to light, we need to celebrate the feast of the Holy Trinity with prayer of steadfast hope. God still does love the world. And we can still come out of its dark night to accept his only Son, whom he has given to us so that we might have life in him. Only in his light and in his life can we enjoy peace among ourselves and within ourselves, a peace that surpasses human understanding.
Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B.