Sunday Church at Home – Trinity Sunday, Year A

Trinity Sunday, Year A

Sunday Church at Home

during lockdown in the Coronavirus Pandemic

 

The lay leader makes the sign of the cross, saying:

Leader: ln the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

All reply: Amen

Leader: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

All reply: Blessed be God for ever

Leader: Now that Pentecost Sunday has brought the Easter festival to a close, we resume our journey through Ordinary Time. The first two Sundays after Pentecost are always celebrated as the feasts of the Holy Trinity and of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi). Every year the readings for these two festivals replace those for the Sundays of Ordinary Time.
The mystery of the Trinity can be approached as a theological conundrum or as an adventure in faith. The word of God invites us to take the latter route. The readings for the day help us retrace some of the steps taken by our forebears in faith as they were led to discover Father, Son and Spirit communing in the one Godhead and enfolding the whole of creation in their love.

 

LITURGY OF THE WORD

First Reading: Exodus 34:4b-6.8-9

Introduction to the reading: When Moses saw the Israelite people worshipping the golden calf, he angrily threw down and broke the tablets containing the commandments.  Later, God instructed him to cut two new tablets.  Today’s passage begins at that point, and offsets the mistaken notion that the Old Testament always presents a stern and angry God.

A reading from the Book of Exodus

In those days: Moses rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand two tables of stone. And the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him, and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” And Moses made haste to bow his head toward the earth, and worshiped. And he said, “If now I have found favour in your sight, O Lord, let the Lord, I beg you, go in the midst of us, although it is a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.”

The Word of the Lord.

Let us now pray the Responsorial Psalm beginning and ending with the response:

R/:   You are to be praised and highly exalted forever.

Blessed are you, O Lord, God of our fathers,

and to be praised and highly exalted forever;

and  blessed is your glorious, holy name

and to be highly praised and highly exalted forever.

Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory

and to be extolled and highly glorified forever.

Blessed are you upon the throne of your kingdom

And to be extolled and highly exalted forever.

Blessed are you, who sit upon cherubim

And look upon the deeps,

And to be praised and highly exalted forever.

Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven
and to be sung and glorified forever.


R/:  You are to be praised and highly exalted forever.

Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 13:11-13

Introduction to the reading: This passage is the ending of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians.  The Church chose this passage for Trinity Sunday because the final sentence mentions all three persons of the Trinity.  That sentence is also used as one of the greetings at the beginning of Mass.

A reading from the second Letter of St Paul to the Corinthians

Brethren, rejoice. Mend your ways, heed my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

The Word of the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia. Glory be to the Father; and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; to God who is, who was, and who is to come.    Alleluia!

Gospel: John 3:16-18

A reading from the holy Gospel according to John

God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.  He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. 

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection on the Readings 

The leader reads the text prepared by the priest and leads the sharing.

Homily


It was confirmation in the parish, and the Archbishop was there to confer the Sacrament. The Archbishop was old and a little deaf – but that did not stop him from asking the teens some questions about their faith. So he asked them for a definition of the Holy Trinity.  A girl answered very softly – The Holy Trinity is three persons in one God.” The Archbishop, replied – I didn’t understand what you said.” And the young theologian standing in front of him replied: Well, Your Grace, you are not supposed to. The Trinity is a mystery. Nobody understands it.” 😊

Let us explore Scripture today to see what we can discover about this amazing God of ours.

We don’t usually focus on the Responsorial Psalm. It is what its title suggests, a response to the first reading. Today’s Response is an exception, it is not from the book of Psalms. Instead it is a song – or psalm – from the Book of Daniel. 

“Blessed are you, O Lord, God of our fathers, and to be praised and highly exalted forever.” 

These are the words of the three young men Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego who were thrown into a fiery furnace by Nebuchadnezzar for not worshiping the golden statue he had made. They were willing to die rather than betray their God.  In the furnace they could be seen walking around and heard praising God. Today’s Responsorial is part of the young men’s Canticle.

We sometimes paint a harsh picture of the so-called “Old Testament God.”  I often struggle with some portrayals of God slaughtering the enemy army. An extreme example is Richard Dawkins in his book ‘The God delusion’ when he writes: “The God of the Old Testament is … jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic ……” and other words like that.

Have a look at the first reading today. What is the reference for it? It is Exodus 34: 4b-6.8-9. Note that verse 7 omitted. This is the verse:

“ … visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

The NIV translation puts it this way: “Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

The very important reason it is omitted is this– we are followers of Christ, and Christ has revealed to us that God is a God of love. St John says it like this: God IS love! We do not worship a punishing God. Our understanding of God has developed over centuries and millennia from a harsher God in pre-history until we are able to rejoice in a relationship with a loving God.

We can ask the important question: Why would the three young men men choose the furnace’s fire instead of betraying God, if their God was harsh and punishing? 

On the feast of our triune God the blessings the three men pray from the midst of the flames remind us of the God we worship: 

“Blessed are you O Lord.. and to be praised and highly exalted forever.” 

This is the response to our reading from Exodus. 

We go with Moses up Mount Sinai where God had summoned him.  In calling Moses, God had taken the initiative, which is how God treats us as well. Each time we pray, go to church or, as we do these days, live stream Mass, we acknowledge, the God of Moses and the God of Jesus Christ. God calls us to many “mountaintop” encounters, either by ourselves, or with a worshiping community.

Who is this God-of-summons? In the encounter with Moses God declares God’s name, “The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and gracious God slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.” The Hebrew terms for God convey more than our English translation.  The Bible does not define God, but renders powerful images of God for us. For example: “merciful” means “compassion,” and in Hebrew is associated with a pregnant woman’s womb. “Gracious” means to show favour towards a person and “slow to anger” suggests patience and long-suffering. 

God has taken the initiative to call people and it is God who reveals the divine nature and its meaning to Moses on Mount Sinai. Don’t you find Moses’ invitation to the all-powerful and merciful God charming? 

“If I find favour with you, O Lord, do come along in our company.” 

That could be our prayer as well during these pandemic days. Like Moses and the Israelites crossing the harsh desert to an unknown destination, we too are on a perilous journey and we don’t know where, or when it will end. 

We can make Moses’ prayer ours too: “If I find favour with you, O Lord, do come along in our company.” On Trinity Sunday we ask, “Who is this God we worship?” Guided by our Exodus account we say, “Our God is the one who “comes along in our company,” comes along in our midst, throughout our lives. And I would add, whether we find “favour” with God or not, God is always there for and with us. 

John spells out more about the God we worship today.  God’s love extends to the whole world. How much? God’s love is so expansive and intense for us that God has given everything to prove it – even God’s only Son. What does God’s love look like? Jesus on the cross displays that love for us. God didn’t cause the crucifixion, but God let the worst happen to Jesus to show us how much God loves us. But we need to accept the healing God offers us through the Son’s death.  We look upon the cross and by that powerful sign of love trust the forgiveness and healing God is reaching out to give us.

When we read the Gospel of John, we see that there is that contrast between light and darkness (Jn1:4-5). We can accept and come into the light by believing in Jesus, God’s new creation. Or, we can choose to remain in the darkness. 

“Whoever does not believe has already been condemned because that one has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” 

The condemnation comes, not because any laws have been broken, but because when we choose to remain on our own evil has its way with us and destroys and defaces – not just us as individuals, but all of the created world, trampled down by greed and indifference.

In John’s Gospel, chapters 15–18, we have a detailed account of Jesus’ teaching of the role of each Person of the Holy Trinity: God the Father creates and provides for His creatures. God the Son redeems us and reconciles us with God. God the Holy Spirit sanctifies us, strengthens us, teaches us, and guides us to God.

Our God is beyond our definition and comprehension. Yet God still reaches out to save us. Our Scriptures proclaim this consistently and quite plainly and we receive the blessing Paul gives us today on the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, 

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”

Reflection Questions

  1. Who is God and what is God like – for me?
  2. We believe that there is one God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is a mystery that we cannot fully explain. What are your favourite images of God?

Family Activity

Whenever we make the Sign of the Cross, we are remembering that we believe in

the Holy Trinity: one God who is three Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. At

their Baptism, Christians are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son,

and of the Holy Spirit. Have a look at photos or videos from family baptisms. Make the sign of the cross on each other’s forehead to remember your Baptism.

Prayer of the Faithful 

Leader: As we remember God’s great love for us, we are assured of God’s powerful and living presence among us. Let us ask God’s help and healing in all that concerns us. 

Reader:
We pray for the Church: (pause) 

that the unconditional love of the Trinity may strengthen and inspire each of us, deepen our love for one another, and help us to witness God’s love and mercy to others. LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for an end to discrimination of all kinds: (pause) 

that we may be inspired by the unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to see God’s creative design in all people, regardless of colour, race or religion.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for the grace of discernment: (pause) 

that we may recognize our true goals in life and follow Jesus on the path to everlasting life.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for the parish of the Resurrection: (pause)

that the life-giving love of the Trinity may flow through us so that we may be untiring in supporting the lonely, consoling the grieving, encouraging the struggling, and forgiving those who have injured us.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for all who are ill, particularly those with Covid-19: (pause) that God will free the world from the virus, heal those who are afflicted, and protect others from the disease.
LORD HEAR US

We pray for members of our families and friends who have died and those whose anniversaries occur about this time, especially for: Donald Grant and the deceased members of the Sikhakane family. 

LORD HEAR US

We pray for Lionel McMurray, Patrick Murray and  all who have died this week, especially those with the Covid-19 virus.
Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord.

All: And let perpetual light shine on them. 

May they rest in peace. Amen.

 

Leader: Let us pray our prayer for healing: 

All: Most Merciful and Triune God,
We come to You in our weakness.
We come to You in our fear.
We come to You with trust.
For You alone are our hope.

We place before You the disease present in our world.
We turn to You in our time of need.

Bring wisdom to doctors.
Give understanding to scientists.
Endow caregivers with compassion and generosity.
Bring healing to those who are ill.
Protect those who are most at risk.
Give comfort to those who have lost a loved one.
Welcome those who have died into Your Eternal Home.

Stabilize our communities.
Unite us in our compassion.
Remove all fear from our hearts.
Fill us with confidence in Your care.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.
Amen.

 

Spiritual Communion

We can unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion.
By making an Act of Spiritual Communion, we express our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and ask him to unite himself with us. 

My Jesus,
I believe you are really here in the Blessed Sacrament.
I love you more than anything in the world, and I hunger to receive you.
But since I cannot receive Communion at this moment,
feed my soul at least spiritually.
I unite myself to you now as I do when I actually receive you.
Amen.

CONCLUDING RITE

Leader: Let us pray to the Father in the words Jesus our Saviour gave us: 

All say: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.

Leader: God our Father,

you revealed the wonderful mystery of the Godhead

by sending into the world

the Word who speaks all truth

and the Spirit who makes us holy.

Grant that we may proclaim the fullness of faith

by acknowledging and worshipping

three Persons, eternal in glory,

one God of majesty and power.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God for ever and ever.

Amen.

 

Blessing

A leader who is a layperson, using no gesture, says:

Leader: May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

All: Amen.

Instrumental music may be played or a hymn may be sung.

 

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