Feast of the Holy Trinity – Year C

Abramo E I TRE ANGELI, Marc Chagall

12 I have much more to say to you, but right now it would be more than you could understand.13 The Spirit shows what is true and will come and guide you into the full truth. The Spirit doesn’t speak on his own. He will tell you only what he has heard from me, and he will let you know what is going to happen. 14 The Spirit will bring glory to me by taking my message and telling it to you.15 Everything that the Father has is mine. That is why I have said that the Spirit takes my message and tells it to you.

Solitary God or God of Communion?
Gospel reflection  – John 16:12-15
Fernando Armellini

It is the fifth time that, in John’s the Gospel, Jesus promises to send the Spirit, and says it will be the Spirit to carry out the project of the Father. Without his work people could never be able to accept salvation.

The passage begins with the words of Jesus: “I still have many things to tell you, but you cannot bear them now” (v. 12). This phrase might suggest that Jesus, having lived a few years, has not had the opportunity to convey his whole message. So as not to leave his mission halfway, abruptly interrupted by his death, he would send the Spirit to teach what was missing.

This is not the meaning. Jesus clearly stated that he has no other revelations to do: “I have made known to you everything I learned from my Father” (Jn 15:15) and in today’s Gospel he says that the Spirit will not add anything to what he has said: “he has nothing to say of himself, but he will speak of what he hears … . He takes what is mine and makes it known to you” (vv.13-14). He does not have the duty to supplement or expand the message but to enlighten the disciples to make them understand correctly what the Master taught. The reason why Jesus does not explain everything is not the lack of time, but the inability of the disciples to “bear the burden” of his message. What is it? What is the “too heavy” topic for their weak forces?

It is the weight of the cross. Through human explanations and reasoning, it is impossible to come to understand that the plan of salvation of God comes through failure, defeat, and the death of his Son at the hands of the wicked. It is impossible to understand that life is reached only by passing through death, through the free gift of oneself. This is the “total truth,” very heavy, impossible to sustain without the power communicated by the Holy Spirit.

In the First Reading, we have considered the project of the Father in creation. In the Second Reading, it was explained to us that this project is carried out by the Son, but we did not yet know that the path to salvation would be not only strange but even absurd. That’s why the Spirit’s work is necessary. Only he can lead us to adhere to the project of the Father and the work of the Son.

He will tell you of the things to come (v. 13). This is not—as claimed by the Jehovah’s Witnesses—the predictions about the end of the world, but the practical implications of Jesus’ message. It is not enough to read what is written in the Gospel; one needs to apply it to the concrete situations of the world. The disciples of Christ will not deceive themselves in these interpretations if they will follow the impulse of the Spirit because he is the one in-charge of guiding “into the whole truth” (v. 13).

To whom does the Spirit reveal himself? All Christ’s disciples are educated and guided by the Spirit: “You have received from him an anointing, and it remains with you, so you do not need someone to teach you … so remain in him, and keep what he has taught you” (1 Jn 2:27).

In the Acts of the Apostles, an episode shows the way and the privileged setting in which the Spirit loves to manifest himself.

In Antioch, while the disciples came together to celebrate the cult of the Lord, the Spirit “speaks,” reveals his plans, his will, his choices (Acts 13:1-2). Prayer, reflection, meditation on the Word, fraternal dialogue create the conditions that allow the Spirit to reveal himself. He does not miraculously send from heaven the solutions; he does not reserve his illuminations to some privileged member; he does not replace the efforts of people, but rather accompanies the passionate pursuit of God’s will that the disciples do together. That’s why, in the early Church, everyone was invited to share with the brothers what, during the community meeting, the Spirit suggested for the edification of all (1 Cor 14).

“He will glorify me” (v. 14). To glorify means for us to applaud, exalt, incense, magnify. Jesus did not need these honors. He is glorified when the Father’s plan of salvation is implemented: the evil becomes right, the poor receive help, who suffers finds solace, the unhappy resumes to hope and to believe in life, the lame man stands up and the leper is made clean. Jesus glorified the Father because he finished the work of salvation which he had been entrusted.

The Spirit, in turn, glorifies Jesus because he opens the minds and hearts of people to his Gospel, gives them the strength to love even the enemies, renews relations between people and creates a society founded on the law of love. That is the glory of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit: a world in which all are his children and they live happily!

Fernando Armellini
Italian missionary and biblical scholar

José A. Pagola

Throughout the centuries, theologians have made an effort to go deeply into the mystery of God by examining in depth their concept of God’s nature and by expressing their conclusions in different ways of speaking. But all too often our words hide God’s mystery more than reveal it. Jesus doesn’t talk much about God. He simply offers us his experience.

Jesus calls God «Father» and he experiences God as a mystery of goodness. He lives this mystery as a good Presence that blesses our life and draws us, God’s sons and daughters, to fight against anything that destroys humanity. For Jesus, this ultimate mystery of reality that we believers call «God» is a close and loving Presence that is opening a path in the world in order to construct, with us and beside us, a more human life.

Jesus never separates this Father from the Father’s project of transforming the world. He isn’t able to think of God as someone enclosed in an unfathomable mystery, with back turned on the suffering of God’s sons and daughters. That’s why he asks his followers to open themselves to the mystery of this God, to believe in the Good News of God’s project, to unite ourselves to God in order to work for a more just and happy world for everyone, and to seek always that God’s justice, God’s truth, God’s peace reign more and more in our world.

Furthermore, Jesus experiences himself as «Son» of this God, born to promote here on earth the humanizing project of the Father and to bring it to definitive fullness that is even beyond death. That is why he seeks at all times what the Father wants. His faithfulness to God leads him to seek always the good of God’s sons and daughters. His passion for God translates itself into compassion for all who suffer.

Therefore, Jesus’ whole existence as Son of God consists in bringing healing to life and alleviating suffering, defending victims and demanding justice for them, sowing deeds of goodness and offering everyone the gratuitous mercy and forgiveness of God: the salvation that comes from the Father.

Lastly, Jesus acts at all times driven by the «Spirit» of God. It’s the Father’s love that sends him to announce to the poor the Good News of God’s saving project. It is the breath of God that moves him to bring healing to life. It is his saving power that manifests itself in every prophetic path.

This Spirit won’t be extinguished in our world when Jesus is gone. He himself promised this to his disciples. The power of the Spirit will make them witnesses of Jesus the Son of God, and co-workers in the saving project of the Father. This is the concrete way we Christians live out the mystery of the Trinity.