Trinity Sunday – Year C
June 12, 2022 – 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community
Deacon Sharon Kay Talley
Proverbs 8:22-31 | Psalm 8:4-9
Romans 5:1-5 | John 16:1-5
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
The Most Holy Trinity is probably the most abstract concept in Christianity and most preachers would prefer not to have to preach on this Sunday. That is probably why Fr. David has me preaching today, just as he did last year!
The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is best understood with our hearts, not our minds since our minds typically are incapable of grasping that 1+1+1=1, not 3!
I’d like to share an old and much-repeated story about St. Augustine, one of the intellectual giants of the Church. He was walking by the seashore one day, attempting to conceive of an intelligible explanation for the mystery of the Trinity. As he walked along, he saw a small boy on the beach pouring seawater from a shell into a small home in the sand. “What are you doing, my child?” asked Augustine. “I am trying to empty the sea into this hole,” the boy answered with an innocent smile. “But that is impossible, my dear child,” said Augustine. The boy stood up, looked straight into the eyes of Augustine, and replied, “What you are trying to do—comprehend the immensity of God with your small head—is even more impossible.” Then he vanished.
The child was an angel sent by God to teach Augustine a lesson. Later Augustine wrote, “You see the Trinity if you see love.” According to Augustine, the Father is the lover, the Son is the loved one and the Holy Spirit is the personification of the very act of loving. This means we can understand the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity more readily with our hearts than with our minds.
Last Sunday, at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and all the followers of Jesus. So which gender should we use in relating to the Holy Spirit? In recent years from the 1980s to the present, typically the masculine form is used in reference to God the Father and God the Son, but many now use the feminine gender when referring to the Holy Spirit.
Semitic languages, like Syriac, referred to the Holy Spirit in the feminine gender. The Syriac language which is derived from Aramaic, the language most scholars believe Jesus spoke, used the feminine gender for the word for spirit, which brought about the consideration of the Holy Spirit as feminine. However, in Greek, the word “ pneuma” is neuter. The Greek word “paraclete” meaning comforter, is masculine. Messianic Judaism, considered to be a form of Christianity, holds to the feminine view of the Holy Spirit. Wisdom and love are equated with the Holy Spirit and both are considered to be feminine.
So there’s a considerable amount of evidence that religious scholars believe the Holy Spirit is female.
–In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus calls the Holy Spirit “Mother”.
–The Syrian writer Aphrahat referred to the Holy Spirit as “She”.
–The word describing the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament is “ruach” which is a feminine noun.
–The Greek language has a gender-ambiguous noun for the Holy Spirit “pneuma”.
–Jewish theology references wisdom in Proverbs as a female Holy Spirit and the mother of creation.
The first reading today from Proverbs describes wisdom personified. Research has shown that the correct pronoun is “she”. She is both God the Creator and the witness to creation. It is only the Trinitarian God who can understand and explain the Trinity since God’s wisdom is absolute while human wisdom is limited.
Our second reading from Romans has Paul telling us that, “the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” At baptism, we receive the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity, who dwells within us giving us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity. And love is the most important aspect of charity, where love of God and hope in the future reward prevail.
When we make the sign of the cross, it is a physical symbol of our faith in God as a Trinity, a triune God consisting of three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: one God. In our Gospel from John, Jesus speaks about the unique relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit: this is the mystery of the Trinity. Jesus talks about the Holy Spirit more in the Gospel of John than in any of the Synoptic Gospels. And this reading from John describes the Trinity, which is never actually mentioned in the Bible. Jesus talks about both His Father and the Spirit of Truth as persons distinctive from Himself. These are three persons who can be distinguished but not separated.
Jesus goes on to tell us that the Father has given everything to the Son in terms of knowledge and influence. The Son has given just as much to the disciples in order for them to carry our Jesus’ mission. And when the Holy Spirit comes, what the Father and Son collectively have given will grow and deepen and will “guide you to all truth.”
The three persons of the Trinity are in complete unity as each contributes to the glorification of the other two. This is the ultimate definition of sharing, as glory abounds when each person promotes the other two.
The idea of perichoresis, or the circular dance of three persons in God, is used by the Eastern tradition to explain the Trinity. It is the never-ending dance of affirmation and celebration.
Our take-aways from today’s readings are to live our lives selflessly, not just working for our own personal goals or gratifications, but with a desire to contribute to our families and our communities. We also must not take unfair advantage of others by oppressing, suppressing, stealing, bullying, or manipulating, but learn to treat others justly.
So, let us learn from the three divine persons how to live in harmony and love and respect all people. Psalm 8 tells us that if we learn to live in harmony as the Holy Trinity does, “The greatness of the name of the Lord will be made known through all the earth.”