OFFICE FOR LITURGY

of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford

The Most Holy Trinity (Year A)

We begin our Summer ‘Ordinary Time’ by celebrating a strange feast - not of a particular saint or event, but of the awesome paradoxes of our God, the Three-in-One, Father, Son and Spirit: so immeasurably distant, yet so amazingly close, so full of power and so full of love. It is love that is the key to the mystery: the revelation of God, to Moses and in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, shows a perfect love - a perfect unity. In the beginning, in the story of Creation in Genesis, God made man and woman ‘in the image and likeness of God’, to live together as a community of love. So too, the Church is an image of this perfection of community which is Father, Son and Spirit. We, as many members of one Church, strive in our everyday lives to imitate God who is Three and One, perfect unity and perfect love.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Exodus 34:4-6.8-9
 
A remarkable reading - very short and simple, but with immense depth and meaning. Notice one thing: at the beginning of the second paragraph, it is the Lord God who speaks, saying ‘Lord, Lord, a God of tenderness and compassion...’ This is the peculiar richness of this reading: that God himself proclaims his own tenderness, compassion, kindness and faithfulness. It fulfils something God says to Moses just before this reading: “I will let all my splendour pass before you, and I will pronounce before you the name of the Lord.” (Exodus 33:19) So here we have God telling Moses who he is - what he is like. This could easily be missed, so the reader will have to concentrate on bringing it out. There is a strange, almost mystical feel to the reading, as Moses shares this awesome but intimate moment with the Lord. Allow this to influence the way you read, especially emphasising what the Lord does and says: ‘the Lord descended...’, ‘the Lord passed before him and proclaimed...’ Above all, take your time, especially with the words God speaks.
 
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 13:11-13
 
Another brief reading (which is always an excuse to take time over it), but with great riches. God is revealed as Three-in-One, united in perfect love: the members of the Church in Corinth are encouraged by Saint Paul to imitate this perfection, this unity, this love. So are we. There is almost a tone of pleading: the Church at Corinth had been in a bit of a mess, and Saint Paul’s two letters to them contain some fairly severe comments: this is his final word, which tries to sum up all that he has said before. He wishes them to live as a true community, in the ‘God of love and peace’. The reading is filled with very short phrases (very unlike the Saint Paul we usually hear, so allow this to come across clearly) - short so that they may sink in, and be remembered. Pause as you read each one, so that it becomes almost like a litany. This is a word from Paul (and so, because he is an apostle of the Lord, from God) which will almost require no interpreting, being so straightforward. Read it with great clarity.

From the Catechism

The Trinity in the Church and her liturgy
CCC 249, 813, 950, 1077-1109, 2845:

The Trinity and prayer
CCC 2655, 2664-2672:

The family as an image of the Trinity
CCC 2205

CCC 238 - 248
Many religions invoke God as "Father". The deity is often considered the "father of gods and of men". In Israel, God is called "Father" inasmuch as he is Creator of the world. Even more, God is Father because of the covenant and the gift of the law to Israel, "his first-born son". God is also called the Father of the king of Israel. Most especially he is "the Father of the poor", of the orphaned and the widowed, who are under his loving protection.

By calling God "Father", the language of faith indicates two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children. God's parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood, which emphasizes God's immanence, the intimacy between Creator and creature. The language of faith thus draws on the human experience of parents, who are in a way the first representatives of God for man. But this experience also tells us that human parents are fallible and can disfigure the face of fatherhood and motherhood. We ought therefore to recall that God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God. He also transcends human fatherhood and motherhood, although he is their origin and standard: no one is father as God is Father.

Jesus revealed that God is Father in an unheard-of sense: he is Father not only in being Creator; he is eternally Father in relation to his only Son, who is eternally Son only in relation to his Father: "No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."

For this reason the apostles confess Jesus to be the Word: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God"; as "the image of the invisible God"; as the "radiance of the glory of God and the very stamp of his nature".

Following this apostolic tradition, the Church confessed at the first ecumenical council at Nicaea (325) that the Son is "consubstantial" with the Father, that is, one only God with him. The second ecumenical council, held at Constantinople in 381, kept this expression in its formulation of the Nicene Creed and confessed "the only-begotten Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father".

Before his Passover, Jesus announced the sending of "another Paraclete" (Advocate), the Holy Spirit. At work since creation, having previously "spoken through the prophets", the Spirit will now be with and in the disciples, to teach them and guide them "into all the truth".68 The Holy Spirit is thus revealed as another divine person with Jesus and the Father.

The eternal origin of the Holy Spirit is revealed in his mission in time. The Spirit is sent to the apostles and to the Church both by the Father in the name of the Son, and by the Son in person, once he had returned to the Father. The sending of the person of the Spirit after Jesus' glorification reveals in its fullness the mystery of the Holy Trinity.

The apostolic faith concerning the Spirit was confessed by the second ecumenical council at Constantinople (381): "We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father." By this confession, the Church recognizes the Father as "the source and origin of the whole divinity". But the eternal origin of the Spirit is not unconnected with the Son's origin: "The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is God, one and equal with the Father and the Son, of the same substance and also of the same nature. . . Yet he is not called the Spirit of the Father alone,. . . but the Spirit of both the Father and the Son." The Creed of the Church from the Council of Constantinople confesses: "With the Father and the Son, he is worshipped and glorified."

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