First Reading: Exodus 34:4-6, 8-9
Moses rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tablets of stone. The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name, “The Lord.”
The Lord passed before Moses, and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”
And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped. He said, “If now I have found favour in your sight, O Lord, I pray, let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.”
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 13:11-13
Brothers and sisters, put things in order, listen to my appeal, 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 saints greet you.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.
Gospel: John 3:16-18
Jesus said to Nicodemus: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
“In the beginning is not the solitude of a One, of an eternal Being, alone and infinite. Rather, in the beginning is the communion of the three Unique Ones” (Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff). Trinity Sunday is the day that we set aside to celebrate who God is in Godself and who God is in relation to everything that exists. We celebrate the nearness of the Triune God who draws us as participants into the mystery of life, of communion, of love and of salvation.
Today’s gospel passage forms part of Jesus’ dialogue with a Pharisee called Nicodemus whom Jesus leads from a basic and fairly literal understanding to new understandings of what it means to be in relationship with God. The need to be “born of the Spirit” is part of the conversation that forms the context for this gospel reading. God is not a distant God, but rather a God of communion, and a God in communion with the world: “God so loved the world….” John uses the term “world” in today’s gospel to refer to humanity in need of salvation. Jesus, “God’s child”, is the one through whom the world is saved.
Trinitarian language pervades John’s gospel and is present elsewhere in the Christian scriptures, almost certainly reflecting the incipient belief of the earliest communities that God is one, as Jewish faith asserts, and at the same time three-in-one. This belief was to develop over the subsequent centuries into the doctrine of the Trinity which is at the very heart of Christian faith.
Perichoresis, a Greek term suggestive of both permeation and diversity in unity, is one of the earliest and probably one of the most striking metaphors used to explain this Trinitarian life of God. The life that is in God is three and yet one in a totally harmonious union of love. Another early metaphorical explanation was of three unified suns, with their three lights mingled into one light. No one image can capture the mystery of God’s dynamic Trinitarian existence. Every image falls short in some respect. Since God is neither male nor female, it is important to remember that the traditional male language of Father, Son and Spirit is one way of imaging the Trinity and is not to be absolutized or taken as a literal description of God who is three in one.
Trinitarian love casts out hatred and enmity and wanton destruction. It calls us to live in harmony with one another and with the whole of the Earth community. It calls us to examine our tendency to privilege those who look and act like us and who see the world as we do. It calls us to hear the plea of Pope Francis to “enlarge the space of our tents” (Isa 54:2) and walk together in faith and hope and love as we prepare for the October session of the Synod on Synodality.