GLORY BE TO THE FATHER AND TO THE SON AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, AMEN.
(A biblical reflection on the Solemnity of THE MOST HOLY TRINITY, Sunday June 19, 2011)
Second Reading: 2Cor 13:11-13
First Reading: Ex 34:4b-6,8-9; Psalms: Dan 3:52-56, Gospel Reading: 3:16-18
Finally, brothers, rejoice. Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the holy ones greet you.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. (2Cor 13:11-13 NAB)
The celebration of Trinity Sunday provides us with the opportunity to think about God. To do this, we must try to find words adequate for such thinking. For us, this is a problem since our human words are so inadequate. How do we approach the mystery of the One God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit? To be honest with ourselves, we do not understand God as we understand other realities. It is not we who control God and initiate contact with Him. Rather, it is God who calls us and challenges us to respond in faith to His word. Father Karl Rahner SJ writes: “It is evident that the doctrine of the Trinity must always remain aware of its mysterious character, which belongs to the divine reality, insofar at least as we are concerned, now and forever, hence also in the blessed vision. For even in the vision God remains forever incomprehensible” (The Trinity, Burns & Oates, 1986 [third impression[, p. 46).
The inadequacy of God-talk in our part and the mystery of God are best understood in the reality of God’s love for us. We find it incomprehensible that God loves us in a total, forgiving way. There is no way to express it partially, as our faith seeks understanding. The Trinity is expressed in the threefold divine love: God-the-Father’s loving creation of us and the world; God’s forgiving love made visible in Jesus Christ; Christ’s and God-the-Father’s abiding love through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We could spend a lifetime talking about the Triune God-of-Love. Better than just talking, however, is the experience of God’s love and our sharing that love with one another.
The second letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians is in many ways the most personal letter of the apostle. He was accused of being unreliable since he postponed his trip to Corinth. They even tried to say that he was not a real apostle or at least not as good as others. Thus St. Paul had to write a letter of defence, talking about the greatness of the apostolic office and the hardships and sufferings he endured for Christ (2Cor 1:12-7:1). After motivating the Corinthians for the collection to be taken up for the Christians in Jerusalem (2Cor 8-9) he then went on to attack his opponents (2Cor 10-13). This last part is in some ways the hardest part of any Pauline Letter, not done as retaliation but in order to put people in the right place.
Usually, the apostle brings a long list of greetings. In the letter to the Romans it is a whole chapter (Rom 16:1-27). But here in the second letter to the Corinthians the ending is rather short. We can read only one short sentence relating to greeting: “All the holy ones greet you” (2Cor 13:12). It is as if St. Paul wants to let them feel that he is not quite pleased with their dissensions.
However, here he ends on a positive note, which is the Trinitarian blessing, now used at the beginning of the Mass (2Cor 13:13). St. Paul starts the end of the letter with a note of reconciliation. “Agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss” (2Cor 13:11-12). What the apostle told the Corinthians was not meant to discourage or to offend them but rather to ask them to live in peace and harmony and to overcome all factions.
But such togetherness can come only from the Triune God Himself, the model and source of all togetherness: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2Cor 13:13). Each attribute (grace, love, fellowship) is attributed to one person in the sense that it is most typical of this divine person and/or in the sense that this person is the giver of this particular good. Of course, Paul is flexible. Thus he attributes grace here to Christ, while in 2Cor 6:1 to the Father; love here to the Father, but in 2Cor 5:14 to Christ.
Hence, all human togetherness can be modelled only after the koinonia (fellowship) of the Most Holy Trinity and of the Holy Spirit in particular, who effects all togetherness. As long as the Corinthians (and the followers of Christ of all ages) would be open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, there would be hope for peace and harmony which they externally could express with a kiss of peace (2Cor 13:11).
Short Prayer: Heavenly Father, through Your Holy Spirit You gave Christ, Your only Son, to us in the flesh, so that we might have life through Him. Filled now with that life, we raise our hearts in praise of the Holy Trinity, saying “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Jakarta, 16 June, 2011
A Christian Pilgrim