Solemnity of the most Holy Trinity (NAB Translation)
Welcome to the Sunday Says podcast for June 15, 2014, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. Thank you for joining us for a just a few minutes as we explore Sacred Scripture and reflect in depth on the mystery of God, not just what He says but on who He is. God, who is the foundation of all that exists, has chosen to reveal aspects of Himself to us throughout salvation history as we will see in these scriptures.
Our readings this week, as always, are from the New Jerusalem translation for copyright purposes.
In the first reading from the book of Exodus, we see the Old Testament understanding of the nature of God as revealed to Moses at the time of the renewal of the Covenant. Moses, in this passage, experiences God’s presence in a unique but mysterious way on Mount Sinai where God had earlier given the Law to his people. This manifestation of God’s presence comes in the form of a cloud, but is up close and personal to Moses. Earlier God had revealed himself to Moses by his mysterious name YHWH, I am Who AM. Now he reveals more than just His name, but something more personal, He reveals the loving nature of his divinity, describing Himself as “merciful,” “gracious”, “slow to anger”, and “abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” There is a pattern in the interaction between Moses and God. First God takes the initiative by revealing who He is. Then Moses responds with a prayer for God to remain with his people. Finally, Moses asks for God to forgive their transgressions and to restore their status as children of God. This last request is an intercession for God to restore a relationship that had been broken by sin. This request is only possible because God is a God of mercy and compassion. We often look to the New Testament for passages that remind us that God is love, but here we see this concept of God clearly revealed in in the Old Testament as well.
The Responsorial this week is a Canticle from the book of Daniel. It is a hymn of praise sung by the three men rescued from the fiery furnace. This hymn is in the form of a litany. A repetition that reflects the intensity of feeling of thanksgiving and love for the Lord. Do we ever experience love for God with such intensity?
The Second Reading is from the Second Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians. St. Paul closes his letter with this passage where he calls the Corinthian church to live peacefully in community and as a community. When St. Paul exhorts the church to “mend their ways,” he is calling for a distinctive and holy way of behaving that will set the Christians apart. He reminds the Corinthians that by joyful and righteous conduct, God will retain his presence among them. A common theme throughout Scripture is a yearning for and awareness of God’s presence. This is exactly what Moses prayed for it in the first reading. Notice how Paul refers to God as a God of “love and peace,” which also reminds us of the description that God gave of Himself to Moses in the first reading from the Old Testament, that is, a God “abounding in steadfast love.”
If the first two readings declare to us the loving nature of God, this Gospel reading from St. John shows us the depth of God’s love. These words “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son,” are at the heart of the Gospel. God the Father was willing to sacrifice His only Son to the point of death to make possible eternal life for us.
Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus, a teacher of the Law who had been troubled by Jesus’ claim to come from God, but was sufficiently intrigued to want to learn more. Jesus has just told Nicodemus that he “must be born from above,’ born of water and the Spirit.” In other words, the Law of which Nicodemus was a teacher could not save Nicodemus. Salvation could only be accomplished by trust and belief in Jesus, by uniting one’s self to His sacrificial love, through baptism and the Holy Spirit. Throughout history God has been revealing Himself to us gradually and progressively. Now Jesus builds on prior revelation and takes us deeper into the mystery of God – revealing to us a God who not only loves, but actually IS love itself in the relationship between the persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Not only does God love us, but through His Son, has sacrificed Himself in a unique way to make it possible for us to participate in that mystery of love which is the Holy Trinity. This is what God desires for our eternal destiny and our response is up to us.
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