Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Cycle A

Easter ended last Sunday with Pentecost, and this week we have returned to Ordinary time. Today we cap off these first few Ordinary days by going back to the beginning, when everything created started, even history itself: to the Most Holy Trinity. We know God has no beginning or end; he even created beginnings when, as the first words of the Bible in Genesis remind us, he said, “let there be light.” Even now he is always with us, no matter where we are or what we’re doing. We being every prayer reminding ourselves of his presence by making the Sign of the Cross and invoking the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

In today’s First Reading Moses implores the Lord to remain with him and his people no matter how stubborn they have been or will be. The Golden Calf incident has just happened in today’s First Reading: the people had made a covenant with the Lord at Sinai and broke it by worshiping a golden calf. Moses, upon coming down from Mt. Sinai and seeing what they’d done, smashed the tablets containing the Ten Commandments (first and only edition) in anger at what the people of Israel had done, rightfully disgusted with them. Moses had the repentant regroup with him to show their return to the Lord, and those who didn’t perished. Even then, Moses was unsure whether the Lord would ever be with them again.

In today’s reading he goes up the mountain to see the Lord’s glory. The Lord promised to take the new tablets he’d made and “reprint” the Ten Commandments again, a sign that the covenant with his people would stand. When Moses beholds the Lord’s glory he sees the Lord for how he truly is: “a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.” He knows neither he nor the people of Israel are entitled to have the Lord be with them, yet he also knows, in faith, that the Lord will remain with him due to his sure goodness and mercy.

In today’s Second Reading Paul expresses the hope that we now express at the beginning of every celebration of the Eucharist: that the Lord remain with us all. In the First Reading it was through Moses that the people reconciled with the Lord and renewed their willingness to be faithful to the covenant they had struck with him at Mt. Sinai. In every celebration of the Eucharist the celebrant, invoking the Most Holy Trinity, greets the faithful by expressing his desire that the “communion of the Holy Spirit” be with them all, using the same words of Paul: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” Along with this communion we pray for the grace of Christ and the love of God, because we know if those things are not present, neither is the communion of the Holy Spirit. Woven in this desire we see every Person of the Most Holy Trinity involved: it begins with the love of God the Father, even before creation, it is restored after we’ve broken it through the grace of God the Son, and it is sustained and fortified through God the Holy Spirit.

In today’s Gospel Our Lord reminds us that God never distances himself from us; we distance ourselves from him. Despite this, he comes in his Son to help us draw close to him again. God is always present to his creatures, including us, in an existential way: he sustains us in existence every moment. If he were to ever stop thinking about us we’d cease to exist. He never stops thinking about us. We distance ourselves from God in our hearts, and he always tries to close the gap, even though he respects our decision to distance ourselves from him. The Father sent the Son into the world to reveal to us that we had distanced ourselves from him and to give us a way to close the gap. The Son doesn’t condemn us. The distance speaks for itself. Through faith in the Son we close the gap and enable the Lord to be with us not only existentially, but in our hearts.

The Sign of the Cross reminds us that we should do everything in the name of the Most Holy Trinity. Let’s make the Sign of the Cross this week like we mean it: by making it a real invocation of the Triune God who loves us. If you weren’t planning on making the Sign of the Cross anytime this week it means you weren’t planning to pray at all, at least not in a Trinitary way. Bad sign. Try starting and ending each day this week by praying the Sign of the Cross. You’ll be amazed how it changes your perspective on how you should live your day.

Readings: Exodus 34:4b–6, 8–9; Daniel 3:52–55; 2 Corinthians 13:11–13; John 3:16–18.

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Pentecost Sunday, Cycle A

Today the Easter season concludes with Pentecost Sunday, commemorating that day in the budding Church when the Father and the Son poured out the Holy Spirit in a special way on the Apostles and they took up the mission of proclaiming the Gospel throughout the whole world. The Holy Spirit throughout the Church’s history has showered down gifts upon her to keep her faithful to the teaching she’s received from Our Lord, and to keep the fires burning to inspire hearts to turn to Our Lord and be reconciled with God and with man.

In today’s First Reading with wind and fire the Holy Spirit is poured out upon the Twelve in a way that cannot be contained. It’s a sign no one can ignore. A rushing wind and tongues of fire. It draws a crowd. It’s a sign everyone is able to understand. It goes beyond the barriers of language to help humanity reunite once again in the Spirit. It’s the sign everyone has been seeking: the truth about God, the world, and man. Every point of origin the shocked witnesses mention today was a full-fledged Christian communion by the time St. Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles. The fire of the Holy Spirit spread like wildfire, uncontainable.

In today’s Second Reading Paul reminds us that the presence and action of the Holy Spirit is often perceived as gifts, gifts for the edification and unity of the Church. The Holy Spirit gifts us the gift of prayer to express in faith that Jesus is Lord. The spiritual gifts are unified in the Church through their source: the Holy Spirit. The ways we serve are unified in serving Our Lord. All the workings of the Spirit in us come from God. Each gift is for our benefit, another’s, or both.

In today’s Gospel we’re reminded of one of the Spirit’s greatest gifts, a gift Our Lord conferred to the Apostles on the eve of his Resurrection: the gift of reconciliation with God. Our Lord first bestows the gift of reconciliation with his dearest friends, the friends who abandoned him in his moment of need: “Peace be with you.” It’s no coincidence that he repeats this desire for reconciliation even as he is breathing the Holy Spirit upon them. It is the Holy Spirit who makes reconciliation possible. The Spirit raised Jesus from the dead and gave him new life so that reconciliation would be possible.

One of the most saddening ways to break off a relationship with someone is to say, “you are dead to me;” In God’s eyes, even in those situations the Spirit can make that person come alive again through the grace of mercy, whether mercy received or mercy given. The separation between God and man, recalled by the story of the Tower of Babel, is reversed by the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost: in pride man distanced himself from God and his fellow man, and communication broke down. Through the gift of tongues the Holy Spirit reestablishes the lines of communication. In the Spirit man reconciles not only with God, but with his fellow man.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday were crowning gifts for the good of the Church and the world. This Sunday is not just a moment to ask the Spirit for more gifts, although they are abundant; it is a moment to take stock of the all the spiritual gifts we have received in gratitude. People receive gifts that they don’t think they really need and chuck them in the closet all the time. Have we relegated any of the Holy Spirit’s gifts to the closet? Paul reminds us today that gifts are for the benefit of someone.

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how you can best use his gifts.

Readings: Acts 2:1–11; Psalm 104:1, 24, 29–31, 34; 1 Corinthians 12:3b–7, 12–13; John 20:19–23.

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