We support our Publishers and Content Creators. You can view this story on their website by CLICKING HERE.

This morning’s Gospel reading is John 16:12–15:

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.”

Today, it occurred to me this weekend, gives us what seems to be a curious contradiction on our liturgical calendar. On the one hand, we return to Ordinary Time, which has a slightly different meaning than the vernacular but nonetheless describes well the end of our great cycles of Lent and Easter. On the other, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Trinity today as well, perhaps the most extraordinary concept in our faith — that the Lord is One, but also in Three Persons.

To me, though, this isn’t a conundrum as much as it reveals a plan. And we can see that plan unfold in today’s Gospel reading as well as in the Acts of the Apostles.

First, let’s consider how the apostles must have felt in the days immediately after the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension. These were weeks that shook their world (and ours as well, of course), in which the most extraordinary events took place. They must have expected that the entire world would change dramatically forever; we know from tradition that they didn’t expect the world to last long at all. They did not expect, in other words, a return of “ordinary time” in the vernacular. The apostles believed, at least initially, that the end of days would come in their own lifetimes.

One can certainly understand why they would have expected nothing to return to the ordinary. And in a significant sense it didn’t for them or the Church, but the world went back to its ordinary ebbs and flows. The apostles had to put their faith in front of them in a very ordinary world in order to preach and convert as Jesus commanded them to do at the Ascension.

So it is for us as well. Every year we go through the great cycles of our liturgical calendar, in which we move out of Ordinary Time to celebrate Advent, Lent, and Easter. The Easter season ends with Pentecost, just as the Passion cycle finished for the apostles at the time. When it ends, we are left with the same challenge each year: how do we keep our rekindled fire of faith alive to see us through the ordinary times of life — through its challenges, its temptations, and its mundane nature?

For that, we rely on the great revelation of Pentecost — the Holy Trinity of God. It would take a theologian of far better education and insight than I to explain the mysteries of the Trinity to anyone’s satisfaction. Even the great doctors of the Church on the Trinity liked to teach about it indirectly. St. Patrick, for instance, used the shamrock — a three-leaf clover — to teach it to the Irish.

Our first reading today from Proverbs gives a good grounding in the Trinity. Speaking as “the wisdom of the Lord,” the scriptures clearly foreshadow and reference Jesus as the Son and the Word:

“The LORD possessed me, the beginning of his ways, the forerunner of his prodigies of long ago; from of old I was poured forth, at the first, before the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no fountains or springs of water; before the mountains were settled into place, before the hills, I was brought forth; while as yet the earth and fields were not made, nor the first clods of the world.

“When the Lord established the heavens I was there, when he marked out the vault over the face of the deep; when he made firm the skies above, when he fixed fast the foundations of the earth; when he set for the sea its limit, so that the waters should not transgress his command; then was I beside him as his craftsman, and I was his delight day by day, playing before him all the while, playing on the surface of his earth; and I found delight in the human race.”

Jesus then teaches His apostles in John that “the Spirit of truth” will come among them to sustain the apostles after Jesus completes His sacrificial mission. Jesus emphasizes that He has everything of the Father, and the Spirit will “take from what is mine and declare it to you.” Jesus describes not just a partnership but a co-existence between three Persons of the same substance — a fully integrated Being who has come to humanity in all three forms over the arc of salvation history.

God the Father formed the world, created humanity, and then chose a people to serve as His instruments for calling all people back to Him. Jesus the Son, through and with whom all this was made, came to His people to complete a sacrifice that would forever lift all us up who chose to believe and participate in that sacrifice. And finally, the Father and the Son sent the love shared between them as one to guide us and reside in our hearts to see us through not just the extraordinary times of life but also through the ordinary — the valleys and deserts of faith, the trials and tribulations of fallen human life, where faith becomes most difficult and temptation and despair can overwhelm us.

Celebrating the most extraordinary mystery of our faith in connection with the resumption of something called “ordinary time” may seem odd, but it couldn’t possibly make more sense. Pentecost enabled the apostles to fulfill the Great Commission in a very ordinary world by filling them with the faith and fire they needed to succeed. They have passed that fire and faith onto us in hopes that we will form ourselves to the Lord’s will and thus join them and Christ in an extraordinary eternal life within the love of the Trinity. Will we choose to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit — and thus make even the ordinary extraordinary?

The front-page image is a detail from “Appearance on the Mountain in Galilee,” Duccio di Buoninsegna, c. 1308-11. On display at the Museo dell’Opera Metropolitana del Duomo. Via Wikimedia Commons.

“Sunday Reflection” is a regular feature, looking at the specific readings used in today’s Mass in Catholic parishes around the world. The reflection represents only my own point of view, intended to help prepare myself for the Lord’s day and perhaps spark a meaningful discussion. Previous Sunday Reflections from the main page can be found here.