May 26, 2013
Holy Trinity Sunday
[Jesus said to his disciples:] 12 "I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. 13 But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. 15 Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.
The early disciples did not have the advantage of reflecting on the nature of Jesus’ relationship to God and how the Holy Spirit fit into that relationship. The need to understand the Holy Spirit arises with Jesus’ departure and return to God. Important to the Church’s understanding of the Holy Spirit are the five statements about the Paraclete found in John’s gospel.
· “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world can not accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17)
· “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name--he will teach everything and remind you of all that [I] told you.” (John 14:26)
· “When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.” (John 15:26-27)
· “But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: sin, because they do not believe in me; righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.” (John 16:7-11)
· The last is John 16:12-15, the gospel text for today, Trinity Sunday.
These passages describe the Holy Spirit as the presence of God that will reassure a community that is struggling with all the questions that face them now that Jesus is no longer in their midst.
As part of this struggle, the early disciples had to deal with a culture that valued honor more that truthfulness. There are a number of incidents recorded in the gospels that reflect this mindset. For example, after Jesus dismisses the woman caught in adultery, (John 8:1-11) Jesus enters a long discussion with the Pharisees about the validity of this action. (John 8:12-59) After much debate Jesus finally says to them: “Whoever belongs to God hears the word of God; for this reason you do not listen, because you do not belong to God.” (John 8:47) In order to deflect Jesus’ accusation, they indirectly say something they know to be false: “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and are possessed?” (John 8:48) They know that Jesus is not a Samaritan, and that he is not possessed. But they are not interested in truthfulness. Instead they are avoiding Jesus’ accusation and trying to maintain some degree of honor. Another familiar example is Peter’s denial of his relationship to Jesus outside of the house of Annas, the High Priest. (John 18:25-27) In this culture it was better for Peter to preserve his honor, even for a short time, than to tell the truth. Therefore he tells those who suggest that he is a follower of Jesus that he does not even know the man. As a value, this is very different from western culture, but it may not be so different from western practice.
1. When you read newspapers, or watch or listen to news reports, do you presume that what you are being told is accurate? How aware are you that what is being reported may have a certain “spin”?
2. Have you found yourself in situations where you were less than honest and forthright? What was more important in those instances than representing yourself with complete honesty?
3. At the beginning of our text, Jesus says “I have much more to tell you, but you can not bear it now.” Why would Jesus make that statement? How would you feel if a person who had become a significant mentor for you was leaving, and said to you something like what Jesus says to the disciples here? What do you think he wants them to realize?
4. The spirit will (1) guide the disciples to all truth, (2) declare the things that are coming, and (3) glorify Jesus by telling them about him. How do you experience God working in these ways in your life? Do you make the connection that this is the way the Holy Spirit is present in your life, in the life of your community, and the Church?
5. What does this text say to you about your growth in your relationship to the God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit?
6. When you pray, do you notice that some of your prayers seem to be addressed to God as Father, or Son or Spirit? Have you ever found that, at different times in your life, your prayer was more focused on one member of the Trinity?
7. Why do you think the Church celebrates Trinity Sunday every year?
On Wednesday of each week, the Gospel and reflection questions for the upcoming Sunday are posted at the following link: http://il-ritiro.org/gospel-reflections.aspx
. You are invited to share your own reflection and comments with others at this website.
The reflection and questions are written by Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM.
They are edited by Sister Anne Marie Lom, OSF and Joe Thiel.
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