What words of incomparable consolation! The Holy One of Israel, in a defining moment of His self-revelation, announces to Moses, the Chosen People, and to us, what His heart is like for those Who follow Him! He is merciful and gracious—isn’t that like a dream come true? Isn’t that exactly what you would want the Ruler of the Universe to be like? Well, the good news is: that’s exactly what He is like! It doesn’t stop there: He is also slow to anger. We, many of whom are so easily quick to anger, do not deserve such a Lord. But that is the kind of Lord we have! He is rich in kindness and fidelity! He is kind, always seeking our good, and He is utterly faithful, because it is His very nature to be so. Nothing duplicitous or wavering about Him! He is the solid rock upon which literally everything else rests! Think how much Moses and the Chosen People’s hearts must have delighted to hear such a proclamation! After spending so much time enslaved among the vagaries of the Egyptian pantheon, to finally have such a glorious encounter with the Holy One of Israel must have been a joy beyond words.
That Scripture is given to us in the first reading as we celebrate Trinity Sunday because that wondrous description applies to all three of the Divine Persons we know as the Most Holy Trinity. Sometimes we make the serious mistake of compartmentalizing the Three Divine Persons. For example, the Lord Jesus is frequently looked at as the kind and merciful One, whereas the Father is looked at as being only the repository of wrath and judgment. Some have gone so far as to mischaracterize the Old and New Testaments along the lines of that paradigm, e.g. the Old Testament (and the God portrayed there) is all about wrath and judgment, but the New Testament is all about mercy and kindness. This mischaracterization not only reveals a substantive lack of exposure to both Testaments, but runs the risk of doing great damage to the character and identity of God, especially of the Father. No one can have studied Song of Songs and conclude that the Father is just about wrath and judgment! The very content of the verse in Exodus cited above demonstrates the superficiality of such a characterization. All three Persons are well-characterized by that wonderful verse, and we are all invited to relate to each of Them conscious of that.
As we celebrate Trinity Sunday, the grace of this Feast is precisely for each of us to examine our relationship with each of the Three Divine Persons, especially with an eye toward seeing where do we need to grow in our relationship with them. We do this utterly confident of the fact that this is all Their idea in the first place. We would not dare to approach them if not for the fact that it is absolutely Their invitation that calls us to do so in the first place. The Gospel gives us courage to do so—it is all about the Father’s love and the Son’s response that brings us to communion with Them. This is exemplified in Jesus’ great prayer in John 17 that the love with which the Father has loved Him would also be in us! We are invited into a deep, personal union of love and friendship with each of Them, for, as St. Thomas Aquinas has so masterfully pointed out: Since each of the Three Persons a person, we should have a personal relationship with each One of Them. We are called to enter into the very life of the Trinity, sharing our life with Them as They share Their life with us. This enables us to experience, for ourselves, the One Who is merciful, gracious, and kind. Let us take advantage of Their invitation and choose on this Trinity Sunday to commit ourselves to pursuing ever more deeply that union with Them that we have been invited to!—Fr. Ed