Reflection for Trinity Sunday.
Jesus answered, “…… What is born of the flesh is flesh and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.” From John 3:1-17, NRSV.
“It is commonly said that the Trinity is a mystery…. But it is not a mystery veiled in darkness in which we can only grope and guess…. It is a mystery in which we are given to understand that we will never know all there is of God…. It is not a mystery that keeps us in the dark, but a mystery in which we are taken by the hand and gradually led into the light.” Eugene Peterson.
In today’s Gospel for Trinity Sunday, Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night – perhaps as he didn’t want to be seen openly with him or because he wanted a quiet talk with him. As a member of the ruling Sanhedrin and a Pharisee, Nicodemus would have placed heavy emphasis on following the established laws of Judaism but Jesus speaks in their complex conversation of being born again and of a new way of life that is not about rules but the love of God and the power of the Spirit. He likens this to the wind, which is invisible and can be heard but blows where it will, and challenges Nicodemus with a different way of interpreting some of the traditional teachings of the faith into which he, too, was born. Nicodemus is not easily persuaded, but later suggests to his colleagues that they should investigate Jesus before judging him (John 7) and also brings a huge quantity of spices to anoint Jesus’ dead body when taken down from the cross (John 19:39). His relationship with Jesus clearly has some effect on him.
Relationship is also clearly at the heart of the Trinity and, although this term isn’t mentioned as such in the Bible, it’s shown in challenging encounters like this. The meeting with Nicodemus happens as Jesus is starting to build relationships with his followers early in his ministry but these are later devastated when the disciples betray and deny him, fleeing from what has been so carefully nurtured as Passiontide develops. Jesus is left alone, experiencing utter dereliction in his words, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” before being placed in the solitude of the tomb. After the resurrection, the fledgling community is slowly rebuilt with the love that death cannot touch and even richer relationships develop as the Good News of the love of God the Father, revealed in the life of the Son and through the power of the Holy Spirit begins to spread.
During the pandemic, countless rich relationships were disrupted as the lockdown led to isolation, hardship and sacrifice for many for the sake of the longer term benefit of all. The challenge now lies in rebuilding what can be restored and in developing a way of being relational to the needs of others as well as ourselves so that good news may prevail, whether on June 21st or later. It will take patience, care and love – but it can be about more than endurance or survival. Trinity Sunday reminds us that the Love of God in relationship and community can also be an inspiration when we look for the signs of new life developing and hope suffusing relationships and communities as we are also “….gradually led into the light”.
There are alternatives: PD James warned that, “the modern holy trinity is money, sex and celebrity” but the history and mystery of the actual Holy Trinity may become more enlightening as perceptions change. Each generation has the opportunity, like Nicodemus, to choose whether or not to explore what this means to life, faith and our relationships with God, each other and ourself. Perhaps there are relationships that need care and revival in our lives today – could something be done to restore them?
What a mystery and a joy it can be to discover that, when our response is inspired by God’s love, we can be part of the encounter of not only an historical event but also the living, breathing, loving reality of the Trinity today!
With my prayers; pob bendith,