Scripture Studies, May 27, 2018 Feast of the Holy Trinity

May 27, 2018 Feast of the Holy Trinity

Although Ordinary Time resumed last Monday we still won’t see green vestments at Sunday Mass yet. We have “special” celebrations that occur on the next two Sundays.
This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity also known as Trinity Sunday. A Catholic Christian’s life is marked by the Sign of the Cross. In this sacramental we profess over and over again that we believe in the “Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” The revelation of God as the Father (origin of all life and being), sending His Son or Word (source of our salvation) and communicating the Holy Spirit (agent of our rebirth in water and the Spirit) is the basic subject of the scriptural readings every week. This week the readings call us to examine more carefully the ways in which we experience God. Do I recognize God as my Source or Creator, as my Savior and as the Spirit within me that empowers me for good? If not, am I willing to do so from now on? It is not too late to begin again and allow myself to encounter the love of the Most Holy Trinity.


First Reading: Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40

32 “Ask now of the days of old, before your time, ever since God created man upon the earth; ask from one end of the sky to the other: Did anything so great ever happen before? Was it ever heard of? 33 Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live? 34 Or did any god venture to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, with his strong hand and outstretched arm, and by great terrors, all of which the LORD, your God, did for you in Egypt before your very eyes? [35 All this you were allowed to see that you might know the LORD is God and there is no other. 36 Out of the heavens he let you hear his voice to discipline you; on earth he let you see his great fire, and you heard him speaking out of the fire. 37 For love of your fathers he chose their descendants and personally led you out of Egypt by his great power, 38 driving out of your way nations greater and mightier than you, so as to bring you in and to make their land your heritage, as it is today. ] 39 This is why you must now know, and fix in your heart, that the LORD is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other. 40 You must keep his statutes and commandments which I enjoin on you today, that you and your children after you may prosper, and that you may have long life on the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you forever.”

NOTES on First Reading:

* The portion of the text in brackets is not included in the reading. I included it only for completeness.

* 4:32-40 This speech follows the wisdom tradition Israel which sought guidance from the past and from the created order.

* 4:34 The testings refers to the manifestations of God’s power as in the ten great plagues of Egypt. See Deut 7:19; 29:2.
The author links the unique vocation of Israel with the uniqueness of Yahweh by using the language of Exodus.

* 4:35 This is a profession of faith that is also attested in Isa 43:11; 44:6; 45:5,6 among others.

* 4:36-38 Later, Israel’s status as a moral community is based on a shared historical memory consisting of ancestors, exodus, and occupation of the land.

Here the preacher, in his exuberance, has apparently lost sight of the fact that this was supposed to be a speech of Moses that occurred before the occupation of the land by Israel.

* 4:37 The words translated as “by His power” or “by his presence” literally mean “His Face.” It is an echo of Exodus 33:14.

* 4:40 This verse forms an inclusion with 4:1.

Second Reading: Romans 8: 14-17

14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father!” 16 The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

NOTES on Second Reading:

* 8:14-17 Although mortification just mentioned in the previous verse is a necessary part of the Christian life it does not capture its essence. The essential point of Christian life is a new relationship with God for which Paul uses the image of “sonship.” The new status of the Christian is modeled on the relationship of the resurrected Jesus with the Father. Both the new life and the new relationship to God ( that of adopted children and heirs through Christ) belong to Christians because of the Spirit’s presence within them. As a result they will share both Christ’s sufferings and glory.

* 8:15 ” Abba” is an Aramaic term that was used by Jesus as a special way of addressing God with filial intimacy. The word, abba, seems not to have been used in earlier or contemporaneous Jewish sources to address God without some qualifier. This Aramaic word also occurs in Mark 14:36; and Gal 4:6.

Although adoption was not widely practiced in Israel and here Paul borrows a word (“huiothesia” in Greek) from the Hellenistic legal usage of the time, it was used of Israel (9:4) in the sense of being chosen by God (Ex 4:22; Isa 1:2; Jer 3:19; Hos 11:1).

Gospel Reading: Matthew 28: 16-20

16 The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. 18 Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

NOTES on Gospel:

* 28:16-20 This is a climactic scene that is often called a “proleptic parousia.” It gives a foretaste of the final glorious coming of the Son of Man pictured in Mat 26:64. His triumph will be manifest to all, whereas, now it is revealed only to the disciples, who, as part of the revelation, are commissioned to announce it to all nations and bring them to belief in Jesus and obedience to his commandments.

Since the message to the disciples was simply that they were to go to Galilee (Mat 28:10), some think that the mountain comes from a tradition of the message known to Matthew and alluded to here. As in Mat 17:1, the significance of the mountain is likely to be theological rather than geographical, possibly recalling the revelation to Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:12-18) and to Elijah at the same place (1 Kings 19:8-18; Horeb is the same as Sinai). It may also be intended to remind the reader of the Mount of Transfiguration (Mat 17:1-8) which, in its own right, was also a mountain of revelation.

* 28:17 The Greek can be translated, as either, “but they doubted,” or “but some doubted.” The verb only occurs in one other place in the New Testament: Matthew 14:31 where it is associated with Peter’s being of “little faith.”

The worship of the disciples indicates faith but even here there are some doubts. This mixture of faith and doubt is a very human condition. The fact that even the apostles suffered from doubt ought to give encouragement and hope to those among us today who also have lingering doubts that the Jesus story is too good to be true. In spite of the difficulty, the apostles eventually overcame their doubts and transformed the world. We are called by the words and grace of Jesus to follow in their footsteps and do the same in the modern world.

* 28:18-20 The words of Jesus are divided into three sections dealing respectively with the past, present, and future.

* 28:18 The Greek text here calls to mind the Septuagint (LXX) translation of Daniel 7:13-14 where one “like a son of man” is given power and an everlasting kingdom by God. The risen Jesus here claims universal power, that is power in heaven and on earth. He claims for Himself the power, dignity and dominion given to the mysterious figure of Daniel 7:13-14. The statement is in the past tense and in the “theological passive.” Power has been given to Him by God. See also 2 Chr 36:23 and Matt 6:10.

* 28:19 This verse is in the present tense. The mission upon which they are sent is the concern of the present and it must not be delayed. Because universal power belongs to the risen Jesus (Matthew 28:18), He gives the eleven a mission that is universal. They are sent to make disciples of all nations. While scholars have long argued whether or not this term refers only to Gentiles, it is likely that it was meant to include the Jews as well. Baptism was seen by the early church as the means of entrance into the community of the Risen One, the Church.

This verse contains what may be the clearest expression in the New Testament of belief in the Holy Trinity. It probably expresses the baptismal formula used by Matthew’s church, but its primary function here is to designate the effect of baptism which is the union of the one baptized with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. By this union we are drawn into the very life of the Trinity.

* 28:20 The commands mentioned here include all the moral teaching found in this gospel, but especially that of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). The commandments of Jesus replace the Mosaic law as the standard of Christian conduct, even though some of the Mosaic commandments have been repeated and continued by the authority of Jesus. The promise of Jesus’ real presence echoes the name Emmanuel given to him in the infancy narrative (Mat 1:23) even though His presence may not be generally visible. The reference to the end of the age refers to the future when the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness. Matthew is the only Gospel that uses the term, “end of the age.” See the Matthew 13:39 and Matthew 24:3. Although the exact meaning is never precisely given, it seems to indicate a time marked by the return of Jesus. </font

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