24 May 2024

'Salamat sa Ginoo - Thanks to the Lord!' Sunday Reflections, Trinity Sunday, Year B


Holy Trinity
Jusepe de Ribera [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland)

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Gospel  Matthew 28:16-20  (English Standard Version, Anglicised)

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshipped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Léachtaí i nGaeilge

Antiphona ad introitum  Entrance Antiphon

Benedictus sit Deus Pater, Unigenitusque Dei Filius, Sanctus quoque Spiritus, quia fecit nobiscum misericordiam suam.

Blest be God the Father, and the Only Begotten Son of God, and also the Holy Spirit, for he has shown us his merciful love.

This is also the Offertory Verse in the Traditional Latin Mass on Trinity Sunday.

Twelve years ago around this time I gave a retreat to a group of Canossian Daughters of Charity in the Philippines. They included four novices and seven professed Sisters, including one from Malaysia. Their foundress, St Magdalene of Canossa bequeathed to the Sisters the mission of 'making Jesus known and loved above all'. This comes from a stance of standing at the foot of the Cross with Mary.

During my talks each morning I shared many stories of individuals who had made Jesus known to me, usually with no awareness that they were doing so. Some were persons I knew. Some are now dead. Some I met only once in passing, never learning their names. Most were poor. I know that my stories triggered off similar memories among the Sisters of people who had made Jesus known to them as the Sisters in turn had made him known to those they were serving.

I see this in the context of the Communion of Saints, the angels and saints in heaven, the members of the Church on earth, the souls in purgatory. The story of creation tells us that we are made in the image of God. But what the author of that first account of creation didn't know is that God is a Community of Three Persons. Made in God's image, we are made to be in community with others.

Jusepe de Ribera's painting of the Holy Trinity above, like a number of other paintings, shows the dead Christ. The expression on the face of the Father shows suffering. It is very similar to the face of the father in Rembrandt's The Return of the Prodigal Son, painted about thirty years later. I don't know if Rembrandt was familiar with de Ribera's painting.

Return of the Prodigal Son [detail]
Rembrandt [Wikipedia]

The Blessed Trinity call us into the circle of their life through suffering. We know the suffering of Jesus. Some of the great artists show to us something of the suffering of the Father.

Peasant Girl Bringing Basket
Adolf Fényes [Web Gallery of Art]

One of the stories I told involved two persons I met only once, a mother and her daughter aged about 13 or 14. When they first approached me outside a retreat house in Cebu City on the morning of Holy Thursday 1990. I made an excuse that I was only visiting. While inside I saw the two of them sitting on the steps. The daughter had her head on her mother's shoulder. Clearly, they were tired and hungry. When I was leaving I gave them enough to buy breakfast. The young girl looked at me with the most beautiful smile I've ever seen and said to me, Salamat sa Ginoo! 'Thanks to the Lord!' She wasn't thanking me but inviting me to thank the Lord with her and her mother for his goodness. Through her hunger and tiredness she had come to know something of God's bountiful love, the love of the Father that Rembrandt reveals so powerfully.

As I reflect on this incident now, 34 years later, I see it in the light of today's Second Reading, Romans 8:14-17. St Paul writes, For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God . . . When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness. That young girl was led by the Spirit of God to thank the Father for having provided her and her mother with breakfast that day, for having listened to their prayer, Give us this day our daily bread. And she invited me as her brother in Christ to do the same. Without being aware of it she was celebrating the reality of the Holy Trinity.

And she has been calling me into the life of the Holy Trinity for all those year. I've no idea what became of her. I went to the Philippines in 1971 to do my part in making disciples of all nations and have baptised many in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. But that young girl, and many others like her, have been constantly teaching me to observe all that I have commanded you and assuring me in the name of Jesus, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Benedictus sit Deus

This is Mozart's setting of today's Entrance Antiphon, composed when he was twelve.

3 May 1991 - 12 October 2006
Beatified 10 October 2020 [Wikipedia; photo]

On Thursday 23 May Pope Francis cleared the way for the canonisation of Blessed Carlo Acutis. He died from leukaemia at the age of 15. He was a computer 'geek', a skill which he used to be a 'web missionary', as the title of the video below states. If you google his name on YouTube you will find a number of videos about him, most of them short. The one below is just over 30 minutes but is very comprehensive, showing many aspects of his life as seen by others, young people of his own age who were friends of his, and others, young and older, on whose life Blessed Carlo had a huge influence, some while he was alive, others who came to know about him after his death, people drawn closer to Jesus Christ because of him. I've watched the video a number of times and each time it has been a prayerful experience, of being closer to God and with a sense of wonder at how the Blessed Trinity invites us into eternal life.

Young people can draw us into the life of the Holy Trinity, as did the 13- or 14-year old girl in Cebu City with me, as does the 12-year-old Mozart with his setting of Benedictus sit Deus, as has Blessed Carlo Acutis been doing before and after his death. Mozart and Blessed Carlo are known internationally, the young girl known only by her family and neighbours. We never know who may be drawing us into the eternal life of the Blessed Trinity.

Blessed Carlo, pray for us!

Blessed Carlo Acutis

Traditional Latin Mass

Trinity Sunday

The Complete Mass in Latin and English is here. (Adjust the date at the top of that page to 05-26-2024 if necessary).

Epistle: Romans 11:33-36. Gospel: Matthew 28:18-20.

Giuseppe Maria Crespi [Wikipedia]

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19; Gospel).

1 comment:

Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder said...

Dearest Father Seán,
Those are meaningful encounters that indeed reflect the Holy Trinity.
And for Mozart to compose this at the age of twelve is directly inspired by the Holy Trinity.
Carlo Acutis certainly left his mark!
We need more of them in today's world.