A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday Liturgy
BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (# 26)
Trinity Sunday, Year A – May 22, 2005
“God So Loved the World”
Ex 34:4b-6, 8-9 // II Cor 13:11-13 // Jn 3:16-18
I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS
When I presented my thesis proposal to the Pontifical Liturgical Institute where I was enrolled in Rome for my licentiate degree, my Moderator objected that my object of study was too vast and wisely suggested that I delimit the topic. In the proposed outline that I submitted to him, he noticed an item that he found interesting. Taking heed of his wise counsel, I then set myself to the task of investigating “The Trinitarian Aspect of the Biblical Readings of the Sundays of Lent, Year A, in the Vatican II Lectionary”. I did not have any problem with the liturgical hermeneutics of the biblical texts. What was formidable and daunting, however, was to delineate how these biblical readings could be used to prepare baptismal candidates for their immersion into the life of the Trinity.
Every evening after I had finished my work in the sacristy, I would sit in front of the tabernacle asking for light and guidance. The Eucharistic Master heeded my prayer. One afternoon, Sr. Mary Salome, who was also enrolled in the Liturgical Institute, kindly showed me an entry on the Trinity in a voluminous theological dictionary stacked in our community library. She rightly guessed that it might be useful for my work. When I read the article, I was astounded at the remarkable insight presented by the author. He asserted that the Paschal Mystery is the basis of Trinitarian revelation. According to him, from the experience of the Paschal Mystery, the Church had come to a profound understanding that the one God, in his most intimate nature, is Trinitarian: as a loving Creator Father, the source of redemption; as the obedient Son who accomplished the Father’s saving plan by his death on the cross; and as the Spirit of love, proceeding from the Father and the Son, who witnesses to our being God’s children and enables us to call him, “Abba, Father”.
That insight became the key to my thesis on how the biblical readings of the Sundays of Lent, Year A, could prepare candidates for baptism, called by St. Isidore of Seville the “sacrament of the Trinity”. Once I had approached the Lenten readings from the Paschal-Trinitarian perspective, my thesis went smoothly and it was successfully completed in short time.
Aelred Rosser corroborates the insight that the Paschal Mystery of Christ is the basis of Trinitarian revelation: “God’s self-revelation as a trinity of persons came very gradually through the centuries. God has not changed, of course, but our limited understanding of God’s nature has continually developed thanks to God’s grace. The revelation came most fully, we Christians believe, in Jesus, in whose life and death we glimpse enough to know that God is all-good, all-loving and has shown us how to be creatures worthy of our Creator.”
Regarding the Church’s feast of the Most Holy Trinity, the biblical scholar, Eugene Maly remarks: “The Feast of God! That is one way of describing our liturgical celebration this Sunday. Holy Trinity is simply (hardly the correct word) the Christian expression of our belief in one God. Father, Son and Spirit are one God.”
The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 2, underline the dynamic aspect of this festivity: “The liturgy, like the New Testament, like all the Greek and Latin Fathers before Augustine, has a very concrete and dynamic conception of the three Persons of the Trinity: everything comes from the Father and returns to him through the Son in the Spirit. Celebrated on the Sunday after Pentecost, it is a great doxology to the Father who raised his Son and brought him into the glory where he reigns with the Holy Spirit he has sent to us. When the sequence of the Sundays in Ordinary Time is about to begin again, this feast sheds light on the face and true nature of Jesus, the Son of God, who, by his teaching and his acts, reveals the Father and leads humankind to himself in the Spirit.”
The biblical readings of Trinity Sunday help us understand what kind of God we have and the relationship of the triune God with us. Eugene Maly explicates: “Our Scripture readings are chosen to emphasize the significance of the triune God for us (once again, the pro nobis aspect of the Scriptures). In the Exodus reading we see the face of the Father turned toward his children. In the Gospel that face is visibly manifest in the incarnate Son. In the letter of Paul all the three persons are invoked at once in a blessing on the readers and hearers of the Word. While the Exodus passage describes the true heart of God, the Gospel reading tells us how far that heart can go to reveal its true nature. God so loved the world that he gave his only Son. Some say that this is the most frequently quoted passage in the Scriptures. There is good reason for the frequency. But the passage’s exquisite beauty and unrestrained power became a sentence of death to the un-responding heart. To God the Father belongs love, the principle of all he wills and does. The result of this love for us is the gift, the grace, that is the Father’s Son, Jesus Christ. That love and grace, through the power of the Spirit, bring us together in fellowship and union. This is the feast of God we celebrate, the feast of love and grace and fellowship. They are Holy Trinity!”
In our celebration of the feast of the Most Holy Trinity, we are invited to a greater response to the incredible love shown to us by God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Augustinian friar, Francis McGowan, exhorts us to pay the triune God the homage of a loving heart: “We owe the Blessed Trinity the homage of grateful love … What happiness was breathed into our souls! The Father adopted each one of us as his child, the Son embraced us as his brother, and the Holy Spirit chose us for his temple. Could the triune God have done more for us? … Yes, we have abundant reason to be thankful to the Holy Trinity for its love and mercy toward us; we have forcible reason to love and honor the ever-blessed Three to offer them the best homage and sincerest worship of our lowly hearts.”
II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART
A. What is our personal response to this magnanimous, compassionate and gracious divine act: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (Jn 3:16)?
B. How do we open our hearts to receive the following Trinitarian benediction: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you” (II Cor 13:13)?
C. Is our life a Trinitarian doxology, “Glory to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit”? How?
III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD
Leader: Let us pray to our God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
O God, we praise you:
Father all-powerful, Christ Lord and Savior, Spirit of love.
You reveal yourself in the depths of our being,
drawing us to share in your life and your love.
One God, three Persons,
be near to the people formed in your image,
close to the world your love brings to life.
We ask you this, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
one God, true and living, forever and ever.
IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD
The following is the bread of the living Word that will nourish us throughout the week. Please memorize it.
“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (Jn 3:16)
V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION
A. ACTION PLAN: Pray that all Christians may give glory to the triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit by replicating the creative and compassionate love of God in their lives and especially in their care for the poor, the marginalized and the needy. Today, make the sign of the cross and pray the “Glory Be” with greater solemnity and devotion.
B. ACTION PLAN: That we may appreciate more deeply our baptismal consecration into the life of the Trinity, and in view of a more meaningful Year of the Eucharist, make an effort to spend an hour in Eucharistic Adoration. Visit the PDDM WEB site (www.pddm.us) for the EUCHARISTIC ADORATION THROUGH THE LITURGICAL YEAR (# 26): A Weekly Pastoral Tool for the Year of the Eucharist.
Prepared by Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang PDDM
PIAE DISCIPULAE DIVINI MAGISTRI
SISTER DISCIPLES OF THE DIVINE MASTER
60 Sunset Ave., Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. (718) 494-8597 // (718) 761-2323