I’ve always thought that this Sunday, when we as the church celebrate the Most Holy Trinity, should be referred to as “Mystery Sunday.” Indeed, what we are celebrating today is the very nature of God, which at the end of the day is always a mystery. That isn’t to say that we don’t have an understanding of what or who the Trinity is, we have centuries of thought and argument to bring us to such an understanding. However, we should always be reminded that our human understanding of God is limited. The ways in which God works, in us, and through us, is not something we can even begin to wrap our heads around.
In the first reading from Exodus, we are reminded of that mystery, as the LORD descends from a cloud to stand with Moses on the mountainside. In that exchange, we find a most poetic descriptor for the Creator: “a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.”
Paul, in his second letter to the people of Corinth, describes the Trinity in terms of grace, love, and fellowship. The God of love and peace would be with the Corinthians if they encourage one another and live in peace. The emphasis here is important—Paul is describing the ways in which God shows up in the midst of community. God works through people who are in a loving relationship with each other, just as the three persons of the Trinity are in relationship with each other.
Paul was writing to the people of Corinth, a people divided much like we as a people are divided today. In that division, people were losing sight of their call to community, a call heard throughout all of Scripture.
The logic behind the biblical focus on community is simple. When you’re looking out for yourself, it’s you against the world. When you lookout for the others in your community, and they in turn look out for you, it’s the community together that faces the challenges, setbacks, and opportunities the world offers. And that’s where God, a community of three persons, shows up.
Dr. Paul Brand, a physician known for his pioneering work in eliminating leprosy tells the story of a lecture he heard by the anthropologist Margaret Mead. In the lecture, Mead discussed what she believed, through years of research, was the earliest sign of civilization. Her digs produced all kinds of artifacts—from household goods to farming implements. However, Mead asserted that the earliest sign of civilization was actually a healed leg bone.
Brand writes in his book Fearfully and Wonderfully Made (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1980):
She explained that such healings were never found in the remains of more competitive societies. There, clues of violence abounded: temples pierced by arrows, skulls crushed by clubs. But the healed femur showed that someone must have cared for the injured person—hunted on his behalf, brought him food, and served him at personal sacrifice. Other societies could not afford such pity.
There are a lot of people walking around with broken legs right now. The pain and the fear being carried by our brothers and our sisters, and by ourselves, is staggering. We as a church which believes in a triune God are called upon to respond.
How do we do that? We show up, we listen, we accompany each other. Such ministry, rooted in baptism, requires no training or degree, but an open heart and patient ears.
We are reminded in today’s gospel text of the incarnation, that moment when God, in the person of Jesus, became human and dwelt among us. Perhaps Jesus is the one person of the Trinity that is less mysterious than the others because we can relate to Jesus’ humanity. Today, the incarnation continues—in us, those who believe. That ongoing revelation of God’s love is found not by individuals set apart, but in the midst of the beloved community we create and foster.
Originally published in “Loose-leaf Lectionary for Mass,” Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota. Copyright 2020. For subscription information, visit: https://litpress.org/loose-leaf-lectionary/index