Trinity Sunday C
Sunday 12th June 2022
The Gospel Paraphrased
There are many fine translations of the Gospels readily available. This paraphrase is not meant to replace them. Rather the intention here is to offer a more contemporary rendering so that you can imaginatively translate the Gospel in your own situation.
This Sunday's Gospel Paraphrased
Jn 16: 12-15
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I have so many things I want to say to you but you are not yet ready for them. But when the Spirit of Truth has come, he will lead you into the fullness of the truth. He will not be speaking from himself, but will speak of all that he has received and will reveal what is to come.
He will glorify me, having received everything from me, and will reveal it to you. All that the Father has is mine. That is why I can say that the Spirit will take all that is mine and reveal it to you.’
The Psalms are the ancient prayers of the Jewish people, here paraphrased into contemporary language.
This Sunday's Psalm
What are mortals that you care for them,
the children of humanity that you visit them?
Just a little lower than the angels you have created them,
crowning them with glory and honour.
You have made them rulers over the works of your hands,
putting all things under their feet:
all sheep and cattle
even the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air, the fish of the sea.
O Lord our God,
how noble is your name through all the earth.
Words cannot contain our desire for God but they help direct our minds and hearts towards God's love and express our needs.
This Sunday's Prayer
Loving Father, all you are you have given to the Son and Spirit and through them we have received all that we have. Open us to the mystery of your self-giving love so that we may reveal your divine life in all we do and say. We ask this in Jesus’ name confident that you will hear us.
The Commentaries Summarised
As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.
This Sunday's Commentary
The Gospel reading for this Sunday is particularly apt for the mystery of the Trinity. Though the persons of the Trinity are mentioned in various New Testament books, most clearly in the baptismal injunction at the conclusion of Matthew’s Gospel, there is little clear understanding of the Mystery and how the persons relate. So when Jesus says that he has things to convey to the disciples that they are not capable of understanding and for which they will need the wisdom of Spirit of God, we can readily apply this to our understanding of the Trinity. As Church and as individuals we are being led into a mystery beyond human understanding where we feel we are only being given hints and guesses at the edge of our knowledge. Indeed it took the Church some centuries of discussion to come to the definitions of Nicaea and Chalcedon that form the basis of traditional Trinitarian theology. These definitions still intrigue but with the support of the Spirit, we can feel that we are being led into the fullness of the truth that Jesus promises to us.
This reading explores the ways in which the persons of the Trinity give themselves to each other and in turn give themselves to us. Love is the ground of their being and it is only when we seek to emulate their self-giving love in our own human relationships are we able to have any true understanding of their mysterious loving. As we love, we are given some instinctual understanding that makes us realise even more how dependent we are on the wisdom of the Spirit.
Christian conversion is promoted by conversation. This section is a response to and a development on the knowledge gained from the commentary section.
This Sunday's Exposition
There are many serious issues challenging our world today. Inequality in the distribution of the world’s resources or climate change spring readily to mind. Intractable as these issues may seem at heart the needed response to these challenges is remarkably simple: a change in personal possessive pronouns. Instead of ‘mine’ we need to use ‘ours’. While we operate simply on the basis of our individual desires, we will use the world primarily in selfish and ultimately destructive ways. But if I see myself as belonging to the community of humanity, I not only use the goods of this world with an eye to others’ needs but I also see myself as part of the solution to even the greatest of the world’s problems. With such a transformation I will not only recognise how my actions influence others but also how other actions influence my life. For example, if the work of the Bangladeshi garment workers had been appreciated, their deaths, and the resultant even greater destitution of their families, would not have occurred.
This transformation of determining possessive pronoun is not only necessary for our survival as a race, it is integral to our happiness as a people. If we look to this Sunday’s Gospel, we see why this is so. We are made in the image and likeness of God. This Gospel clearly shows that each person of the Trinity exists totally in relationship with the others. They do not give to each other what knowledge, love or glory is left over after they have attained their own self-fulfilment. Rather their self-fulfilment is attained in giving over of the self to the others and receiving back what the others have to offer. The Son can give his all to the Father, because the Father has given his all to him. Similarly the Holy Spirit gives his all to us because he has received totally from the others. This is not meant to be remote and rarefied theology. It is the power by which we can offer hope to our suffering world and at the same time come to our deepest fulfilment.
Reflection is an essential element of our growth in Christ. As we reflect over what we have learnt and ponder it in our hearts, we come to recognise the presence of God in our lives.
This Sunday's Reflection
I have three nieces who loved to dance at the Eucharist. They would find a clear space near the organ and, once a hymn began, they would weave around, sensitive to each other, delighting in the song and their own movement. They were an example of an ancient Greek image for the Trinity – perichoresis – the ones who dance together. For such communal dancing to be beautiful, each needs to recognise and appreciate what the others offer to the artistry as a whole.
We see this weaving in and out in Jesus’ description of the relationships within the Trinity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit: each has their role in the revelation of the love and life of God. The Trinity is a difficult concept to get our minds around but we all know what a good communal dance looks like just as we all appreciate the ebb and flow of love between people. Our knowledge of the Trinity comes about not when we try to nut out an intellectual understanding but rather when we enter into the dance of love that is communal living. In such loving, we each take our turn accepting responsibility and initiative in fulfilling the needs of the group. At other times, we move back and receive from others. Such mutuality rarely comes easily. Giving or receiving, we are called into a process of self-giving, specifically using our gifts and talents for the building up of a community in love. And as we do this, the very life of God becomes real, and hopefully radiant, in our lives.
Looking at art works or movies is a great way to open ourselves to the meaning of the Gospels. Seeing can bypass our preconceived notions, giving us new vistas of enlightenment. With painting or sculpture one needs to sit quietly and absorb the dynamics of the piece. The drama of movies more easily engages us and offers a way to conversation about the Gospel with other members of your family.
This Sunday's Visual Meditation
- This is a 15th century illumination by the Master of Jean Chevrot (click red text) which has the Holy Spirit portrayed in human form – quite unusual.
- Rublev’s Trinity is very popular and rightly so!
- Russian Icons
- This American design has its origins in Byzantine art even though painted in the Spanish Americas.
- The Way
- Black Robe
The purpose of mulling meditations is to offer a few ideas that one can mull about while doing other occupations. There are many things we do in our day that do not require our full attention - some things which are largely done on automatic pilot - like driving a car or peeling the potatoes. While we give these our attention, part of our mind is still at work mulling on other things and unless it is given something positive to feed on, we easily feed on negative thoughts. Personally I find mulling time the most likely time for God to get through to me. Because I am not so conscious of myself, God gets through the cracks and opens my heart to look at life differently.
Two practical times for mulling can be when exercising and when driving. Some small preparations for integrating such prayer into these exercises can be helpful.
As you do your preparatory stretches, pray the line of the Psalm "I praise you God for I am wonderfully made!"
Similarly when doing your concluding stretches use the prayer of St Clare "Praised be you, my God, for creating me!"
Have some music that you find helps you turn you mind and heart to God and play that for the first 10 minutes or so of your trip.
This Sunday's Mulling Meditation
This Sunday’s Gospel places great emphasis on the way the persons of the Trinity give of themselves to each other. As you go through this week, notice the times when you give of yourself and when you hold back. Mull on how your self-giving could make you more like the Trinity.
In the Letter of James, we are told that the Scriptures are like a mirror in which we can see ourselves. In this type of meditation we take a piece of Scripture, hold it before us and consider what echoes within our heart. These echoes help us to see who we are before God and how we are loved. What usually echoes in us are situations that we are dealing with in our lives. When something strikes us, we do not actively try to solve the situation or work it through. Rather we sit holding it in God's love. The point of such a meditation is to make space within the situation for God's love to be. In 'sitting with' such a situation, painful or sad, we come to recognise the love of God that is at work on our lives. The suggestions for Mirror reflections can also be used for Exercise reflections but wouldn't be advised for Driving Prayer as often some degree of emotion or distraction might rise in such prayer.
This Sunday's Mirror Meditation
Rest in the love of your God.
The persons of the Trinity give and receive of themselves to each other in love and it is in the image of this God that I have been made and from which I should live. By reflecting on my giving and receiving, I can discover how God loves through me.
What have I received from others in the past few days? How graciously did I receive? Did I acknowledge and thank them?
What have I given away in the past few days? How graciously did I do it? How did I accept thanks if it was offered?
Rest in the love of your God.
Suggestions for the Programme
The elements of the programme can be used in any way that helps your prayer. The suggestions below are fairly simple ways of using this programme.
Become conscious of your God
Hymn or poem
Reading of Gospel text
Mulling over a reflection
Become conscious of your God
Reading of Gospel text and reflection
The programme can also be used for Staff Prayer. How you may put together such a prayer would be influenced largely by the size and dynamics of your staff. For example, a smaller staff group might be able to use discussion of a movie as a way of exploring the meaning of a Gospel.
A painting illustrating the Gospel could be displayed on an interactive board
Reading of the Gospel
Invitation for share reflections
Reading of part of the Gospel
One or two of the mulling themes
Time for reflection
- Firmly I Believe and Truly by John Henry Newman
- This Day God gives me adapted from St Patrick’s Breastplate by James Quinn SJ
- All hail adored Trinity Anon. of Anglo Saxon origin.
- On this Day the First of Days Trad. translated by Henry Baker.
Of three in One and One in three
My narrow mind would doubting be
Till Beauty, Grace and Kindness met
And all at once were Juliet.
Holy Sonnet XIV: Batter my heart
Batter my heart, three-personed God; for You
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurped town, to another due,
Labor to admit You, but O, to no end;
Reason, Your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love You, and would be loved fain,
But am betrothed unto Your enemy.
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again;
Take me to You, imprison me, for I
Except You enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except You ravish me.