As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, Franciscan Friar Fr. Paul Gallagher reflects on the Gospel for Sunday June 12, 2022. The content is edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. To read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here:Franciscan Gospel Reflection June 12 2022 Excerpts are from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Photo: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0b/Angelsatmamre-trinity-rublev-1410.jpg; [[File:Shield-Trinity-Scutum-Fidei-compact.svg|Shield-Trinity-Scutum-Fidei-compact]]
Jesus said to his disciples: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. 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. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. 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 centuries or even decades of reflecting on the nature of Jesus’ relationship to God and how the Holy Spirit fit into their relationship. The need to understand the Holy Spirit arises with Jesus’ departure and return to God. That the early Church found it necessary and important to reflect on the relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is demonstrated by the five statements about their relationship 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 cannot 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)
- “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. 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. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. 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. (John 16:12-15, the gospel text for today, Trinity Sunday.)
These passages describe the Holy Spirit as the reassuring presence of God that will be with the Christians in their struggles and questions now that Jesus is no longer in their midst.
Complicating this struggle for the early Christians was 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. Peter is able to maintain some degree of honor even if it is at the cost of being truthful about his relationship to Jesus. As a value, this is very different from western culture, but it may not be so different from western practice.
In this culture, the Holy Spirit being the guardian and source of truth is a much-needed reassurance for the early Christians, who are faced with opposition from both civil and religious authorities of the day. They also had their own internal doubts and fears with the delayed return of Jesus. The Holy Spirit guides them to all truth. The Holy Spirit doesn’t present his own truth, he presents the truth that he has taken from the Son–and he presents it to them (and us).
- What sources of information do you trust to be accurate, and which do you approach with suspicion? How does that reality affect you?
- Can you picture yourself among the disciples hearing Jesus say to you: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now?” What feelings and thoughts become present to you as you hear Jesus’ words to you?
- 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 already?
- When you pray, do you notice that some of your prayers seem to be addressed to God as Father, others to the Son, and still others to the Spirit? Do you notice any pattern in the kind of prayer that is addressed to each?
- Sit with Jesus as he addresses these teachings to his followers. What is motivating Jesus’ instruction?
- How do you experience God as a Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
- Can you talk now with God about your understanding of God’s relationship within Godself and how that affects your understanding of how God is in relationship with you, or any other thought or awareness that arose within you in this text?