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Commentary to the FEAST OF THE TRINITY – YEAR C

Fernando Armellini - Sat, Jun 11th 2022


What is the identity card of Christians? What characteristic distinguishes them from the followers of other religions? Not love of neighbor: others—we know—do good too. Not prayer: Muslims also pray. Not faith in God: pagans have it too. It is not enough to believe in God; it is crucial to know in which God one believes. Is it a ‘something’ or a ‘someone’? Is he a father who wants to communicate his life or a master looking for new subjects?

Islamists say: God is the absolute. He is the creator who lives up there; he rules from above, he never comes down, he is the judge who waits for the reckoning. The Hebrews—on the contrary—affirm that God walks with his people, manifests himself within history, seeks an alliance with humanity.

Christians today celebrate the specific aspect of their faith: they believe in a Triune God. They believe that God is the Father who created the universe and directs it with wisdom and love; they believe that He did not remain in heaven but, in his image, the Son, came to make himself one of us; they believe that He brings his project of love to completion by his power, by his Spirit.

Every idea or expression of God has an immediate impact on our identity. In every Christian, the face of God who is Father, Son and Spirit, must be recognizable. The visible image of the Trinity must be the Church, which receives everything from God and gives everything freely, and which, like Jesus, is completely oriented towards her brothers and sisters in an attitude of unconditional availability. In it, diversity is not eliminated in the name of unity but is considered an enrichment.

The imprint of the Trinity must be seen in families that have become a sign of an authentic dialogue of love, mutual understanding, and willingness to open their hearts to those who need to feel loved.

  • To interiorize the message, we repeat: "Your face I seek, Lord, do not hide your face from me."


First Reading: Proverbs 8:22-31

Thus says the wisdom of God: “The Lord possessed me, the beginning of his ways, the forerunner of his prodigies of long ago; from of old I was poured forth, at the first, before the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no fountains or springs of water; before the mountains were settled into place, before the hills, I was brought forth; while as yet the earth and fields were not made, nor the first clods of the world.

“When the Lord established the heavens I was there, when he marked out the vault over the face of the deep; when he made firm the skies above, when he fixed fast the foundations of the earth; when he set for the sea its limit, so that the waters should not transgress his command; then was I beside him as his craftsman, and I was his delight day by day, playing before him all the while, playing on the surface of his earth; and I found delight in the human race.” —The Word of the Lord.

The first reading introduces the theme of the Trinity by telling us about the Father, creator of the universe. His wise work is presented with evocative images that, to be understood, need a brief mention of the cosmological concepts that inspired them. Ancient peoples imagined the world built on three levels: the earth where living beings dwell, and the subsoil, the realm of the dead, of the infernal rivers and of the dark waters of the abysses that feed the springs and the rivers and where the enormous columns on which the earth is laid are also placed; finally, supported by the “eternal mountains” (Deut 33,15), there is the upper plane, the sky, consisting of a sheet of shining crystal that holds back the waters above. From cataracts that open and close, God lets out rains, snows and dews. Hanging from this firmament are the stars, planets, moon, and sun, which move and travel their way on specially charted paths.

How did this fascinating and mysterious cosmos that surrounds and overlooks us come about? The reading explains. Before all things, God made Wisdom. The author of the book of Proverbs imagines her as an enchanting girl whom the Lord wants, from the beginning, beside him so that she might follow and contemplate all his activity (vv. 22-23). It is in her presence that he creates the universe. He begins his work under the earth: he arranges the depths and prepares the abundant springs that feed the rivers and seas (v. 24), fixes the bases of the mountains, makes the earth emerge from the waters, and forms the clods of the fields (vv. 25-26), while Wisdom always sits beside him and admires him in amazement.

Then he orders the heavens with clouds, places a circle along the horizon to separate the waters above the firmament from the abyss and establishes a limit to the sea (vv. 27-29). The scene with which the reading closes (vv. 30-31) is delightful and recalls God's judgment at the end of the creative work: "God saw what he had made, and behold, it was very good" (Gen 1:31).

It's all an explosion of happiness. Wisdom affirms that she rejoiced and danced the whole time, happy before God, while He delighted in her presence. Finally, she manifests her desire to remain on earth forever; her joy, in fact, is to be among people (vv. 30-31).

What do these images mean? When we reflect on what happens in the world, on the catastrophes and atrocities committed, it is easy to be touched and often gripped by the doubt that the universe is the fruit of chance, that everything is just confusion, that nothing makes sense.

The reading assures us that creation came out of a provident and wise Father; throughout his activity, He has always been assisted by his Wisdom; creation responds to a project of love, even if man's intelligence is not always able to grasp it. We are like children in front of a cathedral under construction. Whoever enters a building site sees only disorder, stacked materials, piles of sand, iron bars, planks, bricks, cans, hammers, nails scattered everywhere. Only at the end, when the work is completed, do we understand that even what seemed to be mere confusion was actually part of the master plan of a skilled architect.

To have faith in God the Father—is the message of the reading—means believing that he has done everything with wisdom and love.

Second Reading: Romans 5:1-5

Brothers and sisters: Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. —The Word of the Lord.

After having wisely created the universe, God did not consider his work finished. He did not retire to heaven and abandon the world and people to themselves. Our reasoning leads us to distance God from our world, pushes us to place him in a place unreachable by our impurity. "See how I dare to speak to my Lord, I who am dust and ashes," says Abraham (Gen 18:27).

The God who reveals himself from the very first pages of the Bible is instead surprising: not only does He not consider that his holiness is endangered by contact with his creatures, but he manifests an irresistible need to be in this world. He caresses man as he molds him from the dust of the ground and breathes into him his own breath of life (Gen 2:7), then descends from heaven and walks beside him in the garden in the day's breeze (Gen 3:8).

All in preparation for the great surprise to which the first reading also introduced us: the Wisdom of God not only is not afraid to defile herself but "delights to be on earth and places her delights among the children of man." In the fullness of time, the Wisdom of God came "to visit us from above," he became one of us.

This God made man is the Son, the perfect image of the Father. He is the Wisdom spoken of in the first reading. How did God come into our history? The second biblical text proposed to us today tells us: he intervened to justify us through faith in Jesus; for this reason, "we boast in the hope of the glory of God" (vv. 1-2). What does this mean? In front of their peers, people boast of their abilities, strength, wealth, and achievements. But, before God, what can they boast about? To this question, someone answers: they can boast of their good works. He looks at them with satisfaction; if they misbehave, he is indignant and inflicts punishment.

The Son came into this world to announce an unheard-of message, a surprising, excellent news: the Father has decided to ‘justify,’ that is, to make all people righteous in an utterly gratuitous way, without considering their merits. Man's boast is not his good works, but something infinitely more solid and safer: God's unconditional love.

This does not mean that God will cover up, pretend not to see our sins. That would not be salvation. God makes all people righteous because, by always leaving them free, He can change their hearts and make them good with his love.

Let us take as an example the behavior of a mother: even if her son refuses food and is stubborn in keeping his mouth shut, she is not discouraged, she does not resign herself to the whims of the child, and with kisses and caresses, she always manages to get her son to feed himself with what makes him grow. It is unthinkable that the almighty love of God is weaker than that of a mother.

If he looked only at himself, man has only one thing to boast about: his weakness (v. 3). This look—says Paul—must not lead to discouragement but must open up to trust in God's love and give rise to a hope that will certainly never be disappointed (v. 5). To have faith in God, the Son, means to believe that He loves humanity to the point of sharing the precariousness and fragility of life; it means to cultivate the hope that this infinite love can register some momentary failures, never a definitive defeat.

Gospel: John 16:12-15

Jesus said to his disciples: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” —The Gospel of the Lord.

This is the fifth time in John's Gospel that Jesus promises to send the Spirit and affirms that he will be the one to bring the Father's plan to completion. Without his work, people could never be able to receive salvation. The passage begins with Jesus' words, "Many things I have yet to say to you, but for the moment you are not able to carry the burden" (v. 12). This phrase could suggest the idea that Jesus, having lived only a few years, did not have the opportunity to convey all his message. So, in order not to leave halfway his mission, abruptly interrupted by death, he would have sent the Spirit to teach what was still missing.

This is not the meaning. Jesus clearly stated that he had no other revelations to make: "Everything I have heard from the Father I have made known to you" (Jn 15:15). In today's Gospel, he says that the Spirit will add nothing to what he has said: "He will not speak for himself, but will say whatever he has heard; he will take of mine and proclaim it to you" (vv. 13-14). His task is not to supplement or expand the message but to enlighten the disciples so that they understand, in a correct way, what the Master has taught.

The reason why Jesus does not explain everything is not the lack of time but the inability of the disciples to ‘carry the weight’ of his message. What is it about? What is the topic that is too ‘heavy’ for their weak strength? It is the weight of the cross. Through human explanations and reasoning, it is impossible to understand that God's plan of salvation passes through the failure, the defeat, the death of his Son at the hands of the ungodly; it is impossible to understand that life is attained only by passing through death, through the free gift of self. This is the ‘total truth,’ very heavy, impossible to sustain without the strength communicated by the Spirit.

In the first reading, we considered the Father's project in creation; in the second, we were explained that the Son realizes this project, but we did not yet know that the path that leads to salvation would not only be strange but even absurd. This is the reason why the work of the Spirit is necessary. He alone can urge us to adhere to the Father's plan and the Son's work.

He will announce to you the things to come (v. 13). It is not a matter—as Jehovah's Witnesses claim—of predictions about the end of the world, but the concrete implications of Jesus' message. It is not enough to read what is written in the Gospel; it is necessary to apply it to the concrete situations of today's world. Christ's disciples will never be deceived in these interpretations if they follow the impulses of the Spirit because he is the one in charge of guiding "into all truth" (v. 13).

To whom is the Spirit revealed? All of Christ's disciples are instructed and guided by the Spirit: "As for you," writes John, "the anointing you have received from him abides in you, and you need no one to teach you... Stand firm in him, as he teaches you" (1 Jn 2:27).

In the Acts of the Apostles, an episode shows the privileged way and context in which the Spirit loves to manifest himself. In Antioch, while the disciples are gathered to celebrate the worship of the Lord, the Spirit ‘speaks,’ reveals his plans, his will, his choices (Acts 13:1-2). Prayer, reflection, meditation on the Word, and fraternal dialogue create the conditions that allow the Spirit to reveal himself. He does not miraculously rain down solutions from heaven; He does not reserve his enlightenment for a few privileged members. He does not replace human efforts but accompanies the passionate search for the Lord's will that the disciples do together. This is why, in the early church, each person was invited to share with their brothers and sisters what the Spirit suggested during the community meeting for the improvement of all (1 Cor 14).

“He will glorify me” (v. 14). For us, glorifying means applauding, exalting, incensing, magnifying. Jesus does not need these honors. He is glorified when the Father's plan of salvation is carried out: the wicked become righteous, the miserable receive help, the suffering find comfort, the unfortunate resume hope and believe in life, the crippled rise up, and the leper is made pure. Jesus glorified the Father because he accomplished the work of salvation that had been entrusted to him.

The Spirit, in turn, glorifies Jesus because he opens people's minds and hearts to his Gospel, gives them the strength to love even their enemies, renews relationships between people, and creates a society based on the law of love. This is the glory of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit: a world in which all are his children and live happily!





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