Sunday, June 7, 2020
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
Liturgical Color: White
First reading: Exodus 34:4b–6, 8–9
Responsorial Psalm: Daniel 3:52, 53, 54, 55
Second reading: 2 Corinthians 13:11–13
Gospel: John 3:16–18
God’s love and mercy are the theme of this week’s readings. The Old Testament reading and the Gospel speak of God’s merciful response to sinful mankind, while the New Testament reading reminds us that we are called to respond in lovingkindness to God and our neighbor. Love and mercy are attributes of each of the three Persons of the Godhead, and his creatures are meant to be like him.
Moses is returning to Mount Sinai, the Mountain of the God, to speak to the Lord on behalf of the Israelites, who have betrayed their troth with God by worshiping the golden calf. He carries two new tablets, on which he hopes the Lord will again inscribe the words of the Law, which were on the tablets which Moses broke when he saw the people reverting to the ways of pagan Egypt, indicating that they had broken the Law of God which he carried.
“He proclaimed the name of the Lord” (v. 6); the context would suggest that it is Moses who proclaims the name of the Lord, but the Hebrew could indeed be as the RSV has it, “and he proclaimed his name, ‘Lord.’” The same wording appears in v. 6, implying that it is the Lord who is “proclaiming,” defining himself as he promised he would (cf. Exodus 33:19). The sacred writer may have intentionally left these words open to either interpretation; whether spoken by Moses or said directly by God, they are equal from the revelation point of view. (Navarre Bible Commentary)
As Moses pleads for the people, God manifests himself. The solemn repetition of the Lord’s own name shows that the revelation that Moses is receiving is, in fact, intended for the Israelites as a whole. In the self-manifestation which follows, God emphasizes two of his attributes: his justice and his mercy. Personal sin cannot go unpunished, but his mercy is paramount when a person repents and returns to him.
The concept of ‘mercy’ in the Old Testament has a long and rich history. We have to refer back to it in order that the mercy revealed by Christ may shine forth more clearly. […] [S]in too constitutes man’s misery. The people of the Old Covenant experienced this misery from the time of the Exodus, when they set up the golden calf. The Lord himself triumphed over this act of breaking the covenant when he solemnly declared to Moses that he was a “God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6). It is in this central revelation that the chosen people, and each of its members, will find, every time that they have sinned, the strength and the motive for turning to the Lord to remind him of what he had exactly revealed about himself and to beseech his forgiveness. (Pope St. John Paul II, Dives in misericórdia, 4; quoted in Navarre Bible Commentary)
Moses then sums up his plea with three requests: that God may stay with his people, protecting them as they pass through the perilous desert; that he may forgive the grave sin of idolatry which they have committed; and that he may receive them as his own special people. The subsequent history of the Israelites shows that these requests for mercy and protection were indeed granted, although the Lord continued to punish their transgressions to remind them of their obligation to adhere to him and his Law.
St. John Chrysostom comments, he tells them what this will lead to: “Live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you, for God is a God of love and a God of peace, and in these he takes his delight. It is love that will give you peace and remove every evil from your church” (Hom. on 2 Cor., 30). (Navarre Bible Commentary)
St. Paul repeatedly names the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in this short passage, because we Christians are supposed to be Godlike in our lives. Again, the interplay between justice and mercy is evident:
First, Paul calls on them to rejoice. They are to rejoice in the good things God has done for them (see Philippians 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:16). They can also take joy in the fact that Paul rejoices in them and prays for them (2 Corinthians 13:9). Second, he summons the community to mend their ways, a shorthand exhortation to put an end to sexual immorality and divisive behavior (12:20–21) as well as to all the ways they have opposed Paul. The verb “mend” (katartizō) recalls their “restoration” (katartisis) for which he prays (13:9). Third, he exhorts them to encourage one another, an echo of the opening blessing (1:3–7). As Paul has committed himself to encourage the Corinthians, so are they to help one another. Fourth, he urges them to agree with one another, literally, to “think the same” (see Philippians 2:2). This does not mean to have the exact same thoughts or opinions about everything. It does mean their heeding the Spirit’s bestowal of “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16; see Philippians 2:5), inspiring them to live no longer for themselves (2 Corinthians 5:15) and to seek to be reconciled with one another. Fifth, he encourages them to live in peace (1 Thessalonians 5:13), something they can do if they are truly committed to the work of reconciliation. (Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture)
Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it. This […] is why Christ the Redeemer “fully reveals man to himself.” If we may use the expression, this is the human dimension of the mystery of the Redemption. In this dimension man finds again the greatness, dignity and value that belong to his humanity. […] The one who wishes to understand himself thoroughly […] must, with his unrest and uncertainty and even his weakness and sinfulness, with his life and death, draw near to Christ. He must, so to speak, enter into him with all his own self, he must “appropriate” and assimilate the whole of the reality of the Incarnation and Redemption in order to find himself. If this profound process takes place within him, he then bears fruit not only of adoration of God but also of deep wonder at himself. (Pope St. John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis 10; quoted in Navarre Bible Commentary)
God loved “the world” from the moment He created mankind. But He created mankind free to love his Creator or not, and we, His creation, often choose not to love Him. Those of us who repent, having faith in the Son of God, will be saved by the selfless sacrifice of that same Son. They will “not perish but have eternal life” in heaven with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. But those who continue in sin by not turning toward God are “condemned already,” by that very fact.
The Father loves the Son; He is, after all, the Only-Begotten. And the Son, by the very fact of that love, loves the Father and obeys Him in return. This divine love, flowing eternally between the two Persons, is itself the third Person, the Spirit. John does not name the Holy Spirit, but He is clearly there between the Father and His Son.