27May 27 May, 2018. The Most Holy Trinity

(Saint Augustine of Canterbury is not celebrated this year)

1st Reading: Deuteronomy (4:32-34, 39-40)

The great God of heaven and earth guides us by his word

For ask now about former ages, long before your own, ever since the day that God created human beings on the earth; ask from one end of heaven to the other: has anything so great as this ever happened or has its like ever been heard of? Has any people ever heard the voice of a god speaking out of a fire, as you have heard, and lived? Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by terrifying displays of power, as the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?

So acknowledge today and take to heart that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. Keep his statutes and his commandments, which I am commanding you today for your own well-being and that of your descendants after you, so that you may long remain in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for all time.

Responsorial Psalm (from Ps 33)

Response: Happy the people the Lord has chosen for his own

The word of the Lord is faithful
and all his works to be trusted.
The Lord loves justice and right
and fills the earth with his love. (R./)

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
and all their host by the breath of his mouth.
He gathered the waters of the sea as in a bottle;
he put the deeps in storehouses. (R./)

The Lord looks on those who revere him,
on those who hope in his love.
to rescue their souls from death,
to keep them alive in famine. (R./)

Our soul is waiting for the Lord.
The Lord is our help and our shield.
May your love be upon us, O Lord,
as we place all our hope in you. (R./)

Our soul waits for the Lord,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O Lord, be upon us
who have put our hope in you. (R./)

2nd Reading: Romans (8:14-17)

By the Holy Spirit we become children of the Father, and co-heirs with Christ his Son

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ-if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

Gospel: Matthew (28:16-20)

Jesus tells his followers to baptise in the name of the three divine persons

The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”


What can we say?

The abstractions of this feast can terrify — perhaps rightly, leading us to silence, the proper language of God. Our word mystery come from the Greek verb muein, to close the eyes or the lips, that is, to be silent. Silence is the language of God, all else is a poor translation. (Attributed to Rumi)

The Holy Trinity is not a puzzle, which in principle might be “solved”; rather, the Trinity is a mystery, a relationship, which can be explored infinitely, endlessly, joyfully, lovingly. It may be better (and more pastoral) to take inspiration directly from the readings, which are closer to experience. Our loving God has made himself known in Jesus through Spirit. The ending of Matthew is a good example: God will be with us all, everywhere, all of the time.

Kieran O’Mahony (for his exegetical commentary on the readings, click here)


The Fullness of Love

They say that “Two is company, three is a crowd” but today’s feast would have it otherwise. There, the figure three symbolises completeness and perfect symmetry, and re-appears at all the key moments of the Christ story, for the life of Jesus constantly reflected the Trinity of God. The Holy Trinity, the mystery we celebrate today, is beyond the reach of time and the grasp of human reasoning.

Three figures make up the nativity scene in Bethlehem–the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Their first visitors were the three wise men. Later, in the desert preparing to begin his public life, Jesus was tempted three times by the devil. A good story should have a beginning, a middle and an end. Christ was a storyteller par excellence and three figures prominently in his parables. The Prodigal Son is about a father and his two sons; the Good Samaritan tells of the behaviour of three passers-by, the priest, the Levite and the Samaritan; the sower sowed his seed in three different types of terrain, yielding three different levels of harvest. The end of his life, as the beginning, has again the three motif. During his Passion, Peter denied him thrice. On the road to Calvary, he fell three times. The crucifixion scene has three figures, Christ between two thieves. Before his resurrection, he spent three days in the tomb.

God is love. There are Three Persons in the Trinity, the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit. Together they represent the fullness of love. The Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Father. The Holy Spirit is their love for each other. We are made in the image of a triune God. God the Father, who created us, his Son who saved us, and the Holy Spirit who continues to guide us. Our lives should reflect the Trinity. We should be always creative like the Father, compassionate like his Son, and dispose our talents in the service of others like the Holy Spirit.

The inner being of God

Many Christians may not realise that adoring our God as Trinity means that God’s most profound reality is welcome and kindness. Ours is a God whose very essence is love. Perhaps the most vital conversion for most believers is to move from mainly considering God as All-powerful, to a God joyfully adored as Love.

Remember: an all-powerful being could be a despot, a destructive tyrant, an arbitrary dictator, a threat for our small and weak liberty. Could we really trust in a God whom we perceive mainly as almighty? How can I abandon myself to someone infinitely powerful? It would seem easier to mistrust, be cautious, be defensive of our independence. But our Gospel presents God as Trinity, an inter-relating mystery of Love. God’s power is that of one whose love is unfathomable and whose kindness is infinite. It is the love of God that is all-powerful. Only God can love infinitely. And each time we ignore this and forget that God is love, we fabricate a false God. Until we discover that God is only love, we relate superficially to God out of interest or fear. Our self-interest moves us to influence God’s omnipotence for our own gain, or our fear makes us seek every means to defend ourselves from God’s threatening power. But such a self-interested and fearful religion is closer to magic than to true Christian faith.

Only when we start with knowing that God is Love, and discover with fascination that God can’t be anything but Love that is present and beating in the deepest part of our lives, only then does trust in a Triune God begin to grow in our heart. This God of intimate, loving relationship whom Jesus reveals, and whom today we celebrate, can do nothing but love us. (José Antonio Pagola)

Faith in a living God

In bygone times practically everyone agreed on the existence of God. Back then, religious divisions came from conflicting beliefs about God, rather than being a conflict between theism and atheism. This is not the case nowadays. Not only do many profess to be atheist, but the many aspects of modern life tend to promote a kind of atheism in all of us. In our large cities, surrounded by the works of human hands, people are less aware of the the God who created nature’s beauty. Even country people feel in some degree God’s apparent remoteness from our situation, God’s silence, hidden and beyond our ken. Today we celebrate the Most Holy Trinity, the mystery of God’s own life.  Scripture tells us not only that our God is personal, but that God exists as three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Although we cannot give a logical explanation for this, our faith enables us in some small measure to feel and value the dynamic relationship that exists within God’s very nature.

The Scriptures tell us more about the divine AGENCY than about the divine NATURE. Verbs can tell us more than nouns.

Our hope of salvation is a pure gift that is always given by the Father, enfleshed in his divine Son, and enkindled in each of us through the Holy Spirit. St Paul links the three Persons when he writes that “in one Spirit we have access through Christ to the Father”. And God’s reaching down to us must be answered by an up-reaching of our soul towards God. To grow in spirit we must break free from any sinful chains which hold us captive. Then as Paul says, like mirrors we will reflect the brightness of the Lord, until finally we are changed into that image which we reflect. For this great hope and promise, glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, forever, Amen.

Machtnamh: Ní Dia i bhfad uainn, neamhpearsanta

San sean-aimsear, d’aontaigh gach éinne ar aon fhiocal go bfhuil Dia ann, pé rud a cheapadh faoi nádúr Dé. Bhí creideamh de shaghas éigin i nDhia go foirleathan ar fud and domhain. San saol inniu, d’eirigh tuairmí creidimh faoi Dhia, seachas mar a bhí tráth—Dia nó aindagacht. Ní hamhlaidh dúinn inniu. Ní hamháin go bhfuil go leor daoine aindiaghach ann, ach tá an-chuid gné den saol nua-aimseartha ag cothú aindiaghais ionainn uile. In ár gcathracha móra, timpeallaithe le h’oibreacha lámh an duine, is féidir dearmad a dhéanadh faoi Dhia a chruthaigh áilleacht an nádúir. Braitheann daoine tostas Dé, i bhfolach agus fada ó’n ár radharc. Inniu táimid ag ceiliúradh féile na Tríonóide Naofa, an rúndiamhar faoi shaol pearsanta Dé. Insíonn an Scrioptúr dúinn ní amháin go bhfuil ár nDia pearsanta, ach go bhfuil Dia ann mar thrí phearsa, Athair, Mac agus Spiorad Naomh. Cé nach féidir linn míniú loighciúil a thabhairt ar a leithéid, cuireann ár gcreideamh ar ár gcumas, fiú más beag féin é, a thabhairt faoi ndear an caidreamh dinimiciúil atá ann i nádúr Dé.


(Saint Augustine of Canterbury, bishop)

Augustine was an Italian Benedictine monk sent by pope Gregory the Great as the first Archbishop of Canterbury. In 597, Augustine landed on the Isle of Thanet, Kent, and proceeded to Canterbury. When King Æthelberht allowed the missionaries to preach freely, Augustine converted many of the king’s subjects, including thousands during a mass baptism on Christmas Day in 597. He is honoured the “Apostle of England.”.

2 Responses

  1. Brian Fahy

    Trinity Sunday 2018

    ‘Know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.’

    Two men stood on the platform at Mullingar railway station until it was time for the train to go. They shook hands and one man boarded the train, clearly on his way to the boat and to England. The other bid him farewell saying ‘Goodbye now dacent man’. My father who was nearby heard this exchange and was tickled by the language used and much impressed. It has stayed with me all my life.

    Saying goodbye to someone and parting is always a moment tinged with sadness. Our ways are diverging and we will not see one another again for some time, and sometimes never. My mother told me how her mother would not go as far as Ballina to see her daughter off to England. ‘I don’t want to see that big black monster (the train) taking you away from me.’ My cousin Hughie speaks about how his own mother, my aunty Sheila, always regarded England as exile, though she lived the greater part of her life there, and always thought that one day she would go home to her beloved Mayo.

    Having to leave home and loved ones is one of life’s great sadnesses. Growing up is one thing but growing apart is quite another. We belong to one another and distance is something we would rather avoid. My sister, Tricia, always stands at her gate and looks with longing at those who say goodbye and leave after summer holidays. Only when they have disappeared over the brow of the hill does she turn her steps back into her own home.

    Then the day comes when we must say goodbye finally to a loved one, as they depart this world forever. We take our leave of them and mourn them and gather to recall their lives and to celebrate their goodness, and to give them into the hands of God, for the Lord has told us that we do not go into any long goodnight, but rather into the realms of glory. I have always believed this and I believe it still.

    It makes no sense to me that this deeply meaningful life of ours should come to an end in death, be terminated and be no more. I refuse to accept the idea that those I have loved in life and have loved so powerfully suddenly are reduced to nothingness. The spirit is greater and stronger than this, and what my heart dearly wishes, Our Lord fully confirms in his life story, in his dying and rising again.

    After rising from the dead there is still a parting to take place and today we hear that story. Jesus gathers his disciples and gives them their directions in life. Go and make disciples of all the nations. What a marvellous and incredible task. What a job description for all the followers of the Lord! Then he says, as he takes his leave, ‘Know that I am with you always; yes, until the end of time.’

    When we take our leave of people we are precisely no longer with them. That is the point. We will try and remember them while we are away, but we are indeed separated from them and therein lies our sorrow. But Jesus has changed all this for us. The spirit is stronger than death and his life giving Spirit now resides with us and with everyone of good will.

    The followers of the Lord need to remind themselves of this great truth every morning when they wake. The Lord is with you. The Lord dwells in your heart. We are not alone. We are urged to pray for that very reason, to live life in the company and in the presence of this living Lord.

    My father (God bless him) used to surprise me with little quotes from the Gospel. Sitting in his chair in his old age, drinking his tea, studying his horses or just gazing out of the window, he would suddenly quote lines that seemed to impress him greatly. One day he suddenly chirped up and said, ‘Heaven and earth shall pass away but my words will never pass away.’ And on another occasion when I was sitting there with him, he quoted the words of Our Lord that we hear today…

    Know that I am with you always; yes, until the end of time.

  2. Joe O'Leary

    Are Irish priests as dispirited and devastated on this Trinity Sunday as people say?

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