Gospel Matters: Trinity Sunday

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Gospel Matters: Trinity Sunday

By Dr Christine E. Wood, Director of the Office of Evangelisation & Catechesis

Often called the “preacher’s nightmare,” Trinity Sunday might be considered the “preacher’s opportunity” to unpack the greatest mystery of the Christian faith. The Trinity is the most arcane and extraordinary of Christian doctrines, and simultaneously the most ordinary and obvious of doctrines. The very technical language used to speak of the Trinity was developed by the finest minds of the Church in order to speak of the mysterious Trinity.

As Christians we confess our belief in the Trinity whenever we make the Sign of the Cross. Catholics are baptised into the name of the Trinity and are thereby brought into the family of the Trinity, the inner life of God himself.

In the first reading for Trinity Sunday God reveals something of his identity to Moses: “The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.” In violating God’s covenant by worshipping the golden calf Israel should have been destroyed. Instead we discover God’s goodness and mercy revealed to Israel. In comparison to Israel God is rich in fidelity for he is faithful to his covenant. Despite Israel’s unfaithfulness, God is slow to anger, showing his love towards Israel in the form of mercy.

The Gospel reading for Trinity Sunday reveals the fullness of God’s mercy and graciousness in that he sends his only Son to take flesh, to live among us, and to redeem us from our sins. John’s Gospel reveals the very heart of the Gospel message: “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.” Again, it is God’s love that comes to the fore.

Christians believe that God is a Trinity of Persons because God is love. Love must be directed towards another Person; never towards a void. God exists eternally, and loves eternally. Who does he love? When we say God is love, this love is not first for us, but for himself. It is not an egocentric love, but a love between Persons within God himself. This reveals that there is more than one Person in God. Indeed, Jesus reveals God is one in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, bound together in a communion of love.

It is for this reason that, in the second reading for Trinity Sunday, St Paul gives us an explicit Trinitarian 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.” St Paul teaches us here that as Christians we are drawn up into the very life of the Trinity, to share a loving communion with the three divine Persons. What a blessed life we share – glory and praise to God forever!

Image: Andrei Rublev’s “Angels at Mamre (Holy Trinity)"