28th April 2021
WHAT IS OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE TRINITY?
Acts 12: 24–13: 5a;
Ps 67: 2‐3, 5, 6 and 8;
Jn 12: 44‐50
Today our readings are Trinitarian. In the First Reading, the presence of the Holy Spirit is evident. The church (community of believers in Jesus) at Antioch has many gifted people who are prophets (spokespersons for God) and teachers (communicators of God’s Truth). As the community worships together and fasts, the Holy Spirit communicates what they should do: they are to set apart Barnabas and Paul for a mission to Asia Minor. Paul and Barnabas head out “sent forth by the Holy Spirit.”
In the Gospel, Jesus speaks about the intimate bond between Himself and His Father, so much so that those who believe in Jesus are the ones who believe in God. Jesus has not come to condemn and punish the world. He has come to bring light and life to the world – to save the world. People will continue in darkness and death if they do not understand Jesus’ word and mission, and they refuse to accept that He has a deep and close relationship with His Father, who happens to be God. They will condemn themselves by choosing to live in darkness, death, and ignorance.
My reflection is centred on the Trinity. God has created and given life to the world. That is the first blessing God gives us. Yet that was not enough for God. God wanted us to have more than just mortal life. God wanted us to have eternal life – a share in the divine life that lasts forever. God kept sending spokespersons (prophets) to announce the divine plan, but people did not or refused to, understand. God became incarnate (“fleshified”) in Jesus. Jesus came as the One sent by the Father.
He came to save the world and to lift us to the higher life. Yet, in His human, earthly body, Jesus did not remain on earth. Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to continue the divine presence, the divine instruction, the divine empowerment. The Holy Spirit has led, and continues to lead, the believers.
What particularly strikes me in the First Reading is the awareness of the earlier believers in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. It is during their time of worship (liturgy) and fasting that it is obvious what the Holy Spirit wants. They experience the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit in the choosing of Saul (Paul) and Barnabas. The Holy Spirit is truly alive in their midst. So much so, that Paul and Barnabas are “sent forth by the Holy Spirit.” This is what some people call the “discernment of the Holy Spirit.” People pray for guidance and direction. As they come to a prayerful consensus, they know that the Holy Spirit has given them direction. The question before me as an individual and as a member of a local and worldwide community of believers is: Do I seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit by uniting myself with others in prayer (worship) and fasting? The answer I have to give is: “not always.” I sometimes try to “figure” things out on my own. I don’t want to burden others by asking them to pray with and for me. I don’t seek the discernment of the Holy Spirit that is present when two or three believers come together in faith.
I also realize that I don’t always pray that the Holy Spirit will guide the church today as the Spirit did in the times of the Apostles. If ever we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the church, it is now. (Actually, we always need to be attentive to the guiding Holy Spirit.) We should pray that all church leaders will be open to the direction and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I do not know where the Holy Spirit will lead the church (the Body of Christ), but I believe if all of us come together as a believing community of faith, the presence of the Holy Spirit will be manifested.
The Holy Spirit has seen the church through dark times in the past, and God will not let us down now. That does not mean there will not be conflict, division, and tension within the household of faith. There will be differences of opinions, hurt feelings, and maybe even splits as there has been before in the history of God’s People because we are humans who do not fully see and accept God’s plan. In the end, however, if we are faithful to the God Who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we will follow the plan of God as it is made known to us. After all, Jesus did not come to condemn us or leave us in the dark, but to save us and bring us into the light and life of God’s heavenly home.