Gospel Reflection for Sunday the 12th of June 2022
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Sometimes the four different writers of the Gospels are represented by animals when there are drawings of them. That is what is on the most famous page of the Book of Kells if you have ever seen it. Four panels consisting of drawings of a calf, a lion, a man and an eagle. These animals have been chosen to represent the Evangelists as they are four animals mentioned in Revelation the Last Book of the Bible.
Over the centuries there has been a lot thought and written about the allegory that each Gospel could be represented by an animal. But only one of these animals concerns us now: the eagle and that is because the eagle represents the Gospel of John from which we have read and it connects to what we have to consider this Sunday. The scholars liked to associate John with the eagle because it makes one think of that majestic bird, noble and superior, reigning in the skies, lofty and heavenly. There are so many characteristics of the eagle that fit to the Gospel of John and how it can be distinguished from the other 3 Gospels. It is a Gospel of symbols and metaphor, a Gospel of deep discourses and speeches: the fruitful vine, the bread of life, the light of the world.
This passage from it that we read as our Gospel for this Sunday, which we call Trinity Sunday, is typically Johannine, typically mysterious and lofty: “I still have many things to say to you but they would be too much for you now. But when the Spirit of truth comes he will lead you to the complete truth”.
The whole passage brings out a deep mystery to be reflected on “”everything the Father has is mine; that is why I said: All he tells you will be taken from what is mine”. In such short sentences Jesus is summing up the mystery of the Trinity that has never ceased to cause man to wonder. St Patrick’s 3 leaved clover is a beautiful image of the 3 persons in one God, it helps us to make sense of 3 in 1 and 1 in 3, but really… can we ever truly understand what is meant by a Triune God? When we bless ourselves in the name of the Trinity or recite the Glory Be honouring each one of the persons in turn do we really fathom what we are describing?
The short answer has to be no of course! Of course we don’t really understand what we are describing. How can the human mind really fathom the mystery of God. Of course we are tempted to say yes. Yes we understand the theory or the principle but truly can we understand it in reality? The answer is maybe, and the answer is: we should definitely try. This Sunday, Trinity Sunday is an opportunity to think about the unity of the Trinity, the perfection of the Trinity, the love of the Trinity. The grandeur of the Trinity. The lofty soaring thoughts of it. These are things that our minds should try to contemplate. That the Father, Son and Holy Spirit together created heaven and earth, that the Son was born in the flesh to save us and the Spirit came to lead us to the Truth. Even if we don’t understand it we could at least take some time to thank the Trinity, the maker of heaven and earth
St John Henry Newman, a cardinal of the Church who lived in the 19th Century in England and who was a convert from Anglicanism had a close connection to the Trinity. He studied in Trinity College, Oxford and was ordained a Catholic priest on Trinity Sunday 1825. It is said that on Trinity Sunday each year he would take the whole day off to meditate on the mystery of the Trinity.
As we gather before the blessed sacrament for our prayer meeting this week we too should meditate on the Trinity in a special way. We should allow ourselves to be bound up in it. Our God is not a one dimensional, far away commanding figure. He is a God who surrounds us, who lived as one of us and who created us. He is a God in three persons. The mystery of the Trinity is meant to envelop us, to lead us so we come to the whole truth about life and about ourselves. So that our lives and minds might be freed to soar like an eagle to the lofty heights of spiritual freedom.
Thank you Father, Son and Holy Spirit!
Praised be the Holy Trinity.
-Fr Declan Lohan