HOLY TRINITY SOURCE AND INSPIRATION IN BUILDING COMMUNITY
SCRIPTURE READINGS: [EX 34:4-6,8-9; 2 COR 13:11-13; JOHN 3:16-18]
The three-liner reading from St Paul‘s second letter to the Corinthians is pregnant with implications. It is the conclusion of his letters to the Corinthians. Scholars have told us that he wrote two more letters between the first and second letter but these are now lost. In the first letter to the Corinthians, Paul dealt with specific problems facing the Christian community. Corinth was a great commercial centre. The early Christian community was very much divided among themselves. There were scandals in the community, such as sexual immorality, adultery, incest and fornication. There were lawsuits against each other. There were debates about eating food offered to idols. Some in the community were boasting about their charisms, especially the gift of tongues, prophecy and healing. Finally, some were envious of Paul’s leadership and questioned his authority. All these were tearing the community apart.
Our Christian community is not much different from the Christian Community at Corinth during the time of Paul. Some of us think that the Church is always very united and fellow Catholics are very loving, caring, kind, understanding and compassionate. We would like to think of Church leaders as people who are exemplary, humble in service, not ambitious, but self-effacing. Most of all, we think that Christians should be living out the gospel life, the life of Christ and show themselves to be different from others with regard to morality and virtuous living.
The truth is that whilst we have such exemplary Catholics and Church leaders, yet there are members and even leaders that sow division causing disunity. They are ambitious, intolerant, egoistic, proud and arrogant. There are leaders fighting for leadership and positions. They have no respect for authority but are dictators over those under their charge. Some are impatient, self-righteous, always thinking that they are right, that they have the answers to everything and seek to be honoured and recognised. At the other end of the spectrum, there are Catholics who are a disgrace to the Faith; living contradictory lifestyles, adopting and promoting values of the world that are contrary to the gospel. Some live scandalous lives; committing sins of sexual immorality, getting drunk, taking drugs, stealing, cheating and even killing.
In the face of this reality, how should we manage all these conflicts, quarrels, scandals and competition that fragment our community? St Paul gives us the answer. He says, “Brothers, we wish you happiness.” To begin with, we all want to be happy. No one wants to be sad. However, it is also true that we cannot be happy simply by ourselves. We must be happy together with the rest of our community. It is like the Covid-19 pandemic. We cannot only take care of the rich and those in the middle class, or even the medical personnel. We have to take care of everyone because our health depends on the health of others. By neglecting the migrant workers or the poor refugees, the whole community suffers because Covid-19 does not respect age, class, race or religion. So to protect ourselves, we need to safeguard the well-being of others. To be happy, we must ensure that others around us are also happy. In other words, no man is an island. We are both individuals and members of a community. We are not just individuals but we are members of the human family. As individuals, we are all different, yet we share the same aspirations in life. It behoves us to recognise our diversity, different talents and strengths, preferences, and bring all these together, complementing each other, learning and enriching each other. Hence, St Paul urged the community, “try to grow perfect; help one another. Be united; live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.”
What is the model to bring about unity? St Paul pointed to the Holy Trinity. He concluded his letter in a significant way by greeting them with, “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” Indeed, this is the same greeting the Celebrant at Mass would greet the congregation. He does not greet the congregation, “Good Morning” because the gathering is not a sociological or secular gathering because of some affinity or common interest. Rather, we gather for worship, regardless of our status, rank and position in society, race or language, young or old, because we all share the same faith that we are all children of God, adopted sons and daughters in Christ, equal in His eyes. In the name of the Trinity, we gather as a people of God, live and model ourselves after the Holy Trinity. Today, when the Church celebrates Holy Trinity Sunday, the scripture readings invite us to contemplate on the heart of God, His inner life.
What is the inner life of God if not one of profound communion of love and life among the three persons of the Holy Trinity? This heart of God is one of mercy and compassion. God revealed to Moses His identity and His nature when Moses asked to see His glory. Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” (cf Ex 33:18f) In today’s reading, we have the Lord passing before Moses and as He passed by, the Lord proclaimed, “The, Lord, a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness.” Indeed, the glory of God is not demonstrated in terms of power and majesty but in mercy, compassion and forgiveness. The inner life of God is love and mercy. This is expressed in the Father’s giving up His only begotten Son to save us all from our sins and in Jesus’ who gave up His divinity to be identified with us so that He can lead the way back to God for us, and to share in His life.
Jesus, as the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, manifests to us the Father‘s unconditional love and mercy. That was why Jesus asked the Father to glorify Him upon His death since He had glorified Him by His life of mercy and compassion, especially in the act of giving His life to Him and to humanity. By so doing, Jesus was sharing in the nature of His Father, the nature of God, which is one of giving, loving and forgiving. This is what the gospel says as well. “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life. For God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved.” Indeed, the heart of God and therefore of Jesus is a heart of love that pours forth that love to others. God wants to save, to redeem and to give us eternal life. He does not condemn us but is always forgiving.
Thirdly, it is through the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Father and the Son that makes it possible for us to share in His life. Indeed, the love of the Holy Trinity is not a static love, all within themselves, and enveloped in each other. It is not a narcissistic and exclusive love. In fact, it is because of this intense love and communion of life within themselves, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that this love is poured out on us all. It is because God is so much in love within Himself that in the abundance of His love, God created humanity and the earth so that we can share in His love and life. When we are in love and when we are happy, we always want to invite others to share in our happiness and joy. Those who are truly filled with love, joy, peace and happiness cannot keep the joy to themselves but desire to share with others.
So, too, as individuals baptised in the name of the Holy Trinity and as a community assembled in the name of the Holy Trinity, we must therefore reflect the glory of the Trinity in our lives by living a life of perfect communion of love, giving and sharing. The greatness of the Catholic Faith is that we are called to be not just Christians but Catholics, that is, universal. We belong to many nations, cultures, languages and have different customs, but we are all of one faith, love and communion with each other. We respect unity in diversity.
Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore © All Rights Reserved
Best Practices for Using the Daily Scripture Reflections
- Encounter God through the spirit of prayer and the scripture by reflecting and praying the Word of God daily. The purpose is to bring you to prayer and to a deeper union with the Lord on the level of the heart.
- Daily reflections when archived will lead many to accumulate all the reflections of the week and pray in one sitting. This will compromise your capacity to enter deeply into the Word of God, as the tendency is to read for knowledge rather than a prayerful reading of the Word for the purpose of developing a personal and affective relationship with the Lord.
- It is more important to pray deeply, not read widely. The current reflections of the day would be more than sufficient for anyone who wants to pray deeply and be led into an intimacy with the Lord.
Note: You may share this reflection with someone. However, please note that reflections are not archived online nor will they be available via email request.