A REFLECTION ON THE HOLY TRINITY
Exodus 34:4-9 John 3:16-18 2 Corinthians 13:11-13
The third chapter of John’s Gospel John proclaims that the Father loves the world and sent His Son to share eternal life with all who believe. The God, we contemplate today is present in, with and for us. The story of God’s love, Jesus, the Word Incarnate, draws us into His relationship with God as Father.
If you notice, Jesus as the “Son” is referred to three times in this passage, but the Holy Spirit is not mentioned. We come to know and recognize the Spirit in the love that is poured out into the world through the oneness of the Father and Son.
The first reading (Exodus 34:4-9) and the Gospel emphasize the power, mercy and love of God. In the second reading (2 Corinthians 13:11-13), Paul confirms that God is a “God of love and peace”. The reading from 2 Corinthians is the only one that mentions all three Persons of the Trinity. The Alleluia verse reminds us that all three Persons of the Trinity share in glory: “Glory to the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit: To God who is, who was, and who is to come.”
A bit of interest: The Doxology was instituted in 1674. The Doctrine of the Holy Trinity was instated in the Third Century.
Trinity Offers the Gift of Relationship
The Trinity offers us a precious gift of relationship, a grounded connection with God, self, others and the world. This Easter Season invited us to be in relationship with Jesus; it awakened us to a way of living, loving and relating.
We are invited to be like the Trinity-living in absolute relatedness.
During this pandemic, I realize more and more that we are all together in a web of mutual interdependence. When we recognize this on a spiritual level, we call it love.
We know it is through Love, we come to know God. As Christians we believe that God is revealed to us as a Trinity-three persons who are who they are because of how they love one another. It is in God’s nature to love, to reach out to all.
Reflecting on Andrew Rublev's Icon
This leads me to Andrew Rublev’s beautiful Icon in ous Dining Room. We see the Oneness of the three in this icon. They are a unity of persons in one divine nature. The Divine Persons are in relation to each other.
In his book, Behold the Beauty of the Lord: Praying With Icons, Henri Nouwen writes, “Rublev wrote this Icon not only to share the fruits of meditation on the mystery of the Holy Trinity but also to offer his fellow monks a way to keep their hearts centered in God while living in the midst of political unrest.” We certainly know that experience today.
Nouwen goes on to say: “Within the circle of the Holy Trinity, all true knowledge descends into the heart. The Russian mystics describe prayer as descending with the mind into the heart and standing there in the presence of God. Prayer takes place where heart speaks to heart, that is, where the heart of God is united with the heart that prays. Thus, knowing God becomes loving God, just as being known by God is being loved by God.”
Similarly, Pope Francis wrote the following in 2018: “The Feast of the Most Holy Trinity leads us to contemplate the mystery of God who unceasingly creates, redeems and Sanctifies, always with love and through love.”
Reflecting on the Doxology and the Rule of Benedict
This brings me to our daily Community liturgy. I was reflecting on the many times we pray the Doxology in our office (at least ten times). I am aware that sometimes I am not really paying attention to the words. I do the ritual of bowing and then go on. I desire to appreciate it. Pope Francis woke me up to the beauty of what I am praying. We have two forms for our doxology. This is the main one:
All honor to God, the Giver of Life, To Christ, the Risen One, And to the Spirit, Bond of Love Let Glory and Praise be Sung!
I was looking in the Rule of Benedict to see how and if he used the words Holy Spirit. I found he never used the name of Jesus, he used Christ, Christus many times, and a few times, Holy Spirit, Spiritu Sancto.
To site just two: In Chapter 7:70 his very last sentence on Humility:
All this the Lord will be the Holy Spirit graciously manifest in this workman now cleansed of vice and sin.
On the observance of Lent, in Chapter 49:6, Benedict uses Sancti Spiritus:
So that each of us will have something above the assigned measure to offer God of his own will, with the joy of the Holy Spirit.
Reflecting with the Catholic Catechism for Adults
An excerpt from the Catholic Catechism for Adults says:
The Doctrine of the Trinity includes three truths of faith:
FIRST: The Trinity is One. SECOND: The Divine Persons are distinct from each other. THIRD: The Divine Persons are in relationship to one another.
We see this ONENESS in the circle of the Icon. They are distinct in the relationship they each hold. Henri Nouwen again sheds light on this for me.
The sacrificial lamb forms the center of the icon. The hands of the Father, Son and Spirit reveal in different ways its significance. The Son, in the center, points to it with two fingers, thus indicating his mission to become the sacrificial lamb, human as well as divine through the Incarnation. The Father, on the left, encourages the Son with a blessing gesture. And the Spirit, who holds the same staff of authority as the Father and Son, signifies by pointing to the rectangular opening in the front of the altar that this divine sacrifice is a sacrifice for the salvation of the world.
The open space to which the Holy Spirit points is where we become included in the Divine Circle. Today, let us each take time to reflect on this mystery and our own call into this Trinitarian Relationship.
Learn more about core Benedictine values.