Scripture Reflection for June 7, 2020, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

For many of us, no dogma of the faith is more challenging to explain to a non-believer than is the Trinity. The very revelation of God as Trinitarian happens over generations and is then not easily understood – or at least not easily explained – by the Christian faithful.

God’s revelation of himself to humanity is a gradual unfolding of encounter. While human beings have intuited by sense experience the existence of gods from the dawn of history, due to the primacy of free will in the created human condition, God revealed himself gradually, and over time, so as to draw a response of faith borne of that freedom. We see this unfolding – this apocalypse – of God as we study the Readings for this solemnity.

God revealed himself to Abram and sent him on an arduous trek to the land of Canaan which he left to him and his posterity as their heritage, sealed by a perpetual covenant. This covenant was strengthened and further defined as seen in the first Reading as Moses received the Law on Mount Sinai. Throughout the history of Israel, the Lord led his people, though much of their history is the story of rebellion and not observance of the covenantal relationship. Nonetheless, the covenant was not abrogated or abandoned but, true to his essence and as an expression of the fullness of his love, the Father sent the Son into the world to build upon that covenant and extend it to the entire world. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, present and active within the world, the Gospel is proclaimed to all peoples.

The on-going revelation of God reaches its climax in the Incarnation, and yet through the Spirit present within the Church and the world, each one of us is called to a deeper relationship with God, having our own personal encounter with the Lord. It is this encounter that draws us deeper into an experience of faith.

Hence, the revelation of God is, as we should expect, multi-faceted and multi-dimensional. God reveals himself to all of humanity, and to the world now through the Church as the Holy Spirit continues to guide and direct her. Yet, each of us also needs to share in the personal encounter.

Pope Benedict XVI, reflecting on the life of St. Paul, commented: “It means that also for us, Christianity is not a new philosophy or new morality. We are Christians only if we encounter Christ. Of course he does not show himself to us in that irresistible, luminous way, as he did with Paul to make him Apostle of the Gentiles, however, we can also encounter Christ in the reading of sacred Scripture, in prayer, in the liturgical life of the Church.

“We can touch Christ’s heart and feel him touch ours. Only in this personal relationship with Christ, only in this encounter with the Risen One do we really become Christians. And in this way, our reason opens, the whole of Christ’s wisdom opens and all the richness of the truth. Therefore, let us pray to the Lord to enlighten us, so that, in our world, he will grant us the encounter with his presence, and thus give us a lively faith, an open heart, and great charity for all, capable of renewing the world.”

To understand the Trinity and to be able to articulate the fine theological points of understanding as outlined in the various creedal formulae, magisterial proclamations, and other theological insights is noble, but if the experience of encounter is absent, it is empty.

The essential insight of St. John the Apostle that, “God is love” must be the overwhelming sense of our lives as disciples. We are Christians, we are Catholic not because God is Triune, but because the Triune God chose to make himself known to us, to enter into a covenant with us, and to draw us into a relationship with him.

The end result of this encounter, of responding to God’s love by leading a life of faith, of faith-in-action, and by exercising that encounter through love in the Word, is the promise of eternal life. We are called to this encounter, then, not just for this life, but so that we might be in an eternal relationship with the Lord as we share in the fullness of life.

The Trinity, then, draws us deeper into relationship with the Lord, calling us to know the Lord and encountering him in and through the many facets of our lives.

Father Garry Koch is pastor of St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel.