Sunday, June 7, is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. Mass readings: Exodus 34:4-6,8-9; Daniel 3:52-56; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; John 3:16-18.
There is nothing like the absence of those we love to remind us that we were not made to be alone. This year’s Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity offers more cause than ever to sense the longing that can sometimes go unnoticed in our busy lives. As quarantine, social distancing and many forms of loss expose the ache of loneliness, they also point to our longing for the presence of others. This Sunday’s readings offer the antidote: the God in whose image we were made and whose Presence does not fail.
In Moses’ mountaintop encounter, the Lord reveals himself as one longing to be present and to enter into relationship, not only with Moses, but with all the people of Israel. He speaks of himself as “the Lord, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity” (Exodus 34:6). For as often as the Israelites turned away from the very Presence they longed for, the Lord never gave up on them and renewed the covenants repeatedly as a sign of his merciful, kind fidelity.
St. John expresses the culmination of the divine desire to be present to us in one of the most consoling passages of sacred Scripture: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (John 3:16). This eternal life is not an endless sequence of tedious moments. It is the fullness of vision, the fulfillment of our deepest longing, when at last we will behold the Beauty beyond our imagining.
The perfect love within the Trinity is hard for us to grasp, but it is a mystery whose glimpses we catch in the loves we experience in daily life. St. Paul offers a simple pattern of living love: “Brothers and sisters, rejoice. Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Corinthians 13:11).
Today and each day we have every opportunity to live this way of love. Even with social distancing, the call to encourage another could be only a text or call away. Living in peace could be looking out for our immediate family members with a little more generosity and thoughtfulness. Rejoicing can coexist even with loss when we are open to the simple gifts that we often take for granted: the song of birds, the gentleness of rainfall, the silent growth in nature.
When we open ourselves to the God who spoke to Moses and who still speaks in daily encounters, then we can experience the Trinitarian dimension of life-giving love under any circumstances. One of my spiritual heroes, Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, lived this profoundly. Amid 13 years of unjust imprisonment, he reflected, “All prisoners, myself included, constantly wait to be let go. … I decided I would not wait. I would live the present moment and fill it with love.”
Let’s not wait until the pandemic passes. Let’s live the present moment and fill it with love. Then the words of St. Paul will echo in our lives: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you” (2 Corinthians 13:13).
Sister Mary Madeline is a Dominican Sister of the St. Cecilia Congregation in Nashville.
She received her doctorate in sacred theology from the Angelicum in Rome
and currently teaches religion and philosophy at Mount de Sales Academy in Baltimore.