Fr. Romeo Ballan
Today’s feast is an open provocation on the reality of God and on our perception of Him. A persistent question harbours in the hearts of all believers of all religions: What is God like within Himself? How does he live? What does he do? How much does He care about man? Why do people take an interest in Him? ... And so forth. The answers are often convergent and at times divergent, according to the ability of the human mind and everyone’s personal experience. The mystery of God is an objective reality that speaks by itself, and which the human heart cannot evade, in spite of some forms of atheism. The divine mystery acquires for us new light and amazing value when Jesus – God himself in human flesh – comes to reveal to us the true and complete identity of our God, who is full communion of Three Persons.
Catechisms tend to declare, simplistically, that “God is One alone in three Persons”. This says it all, but the all still has to be understood, taken in, welcomed with love and adored in contemplation. The subject has central importance in the area of mission, too. Then again, there is a facile inclination to declare that all peoples – even non-Christian – know that God exists, so that even pagans believe in God. This shared truth – albeit with differences and reservations – is the basis that makes dialogue between religions possible, particularly between Christians and peoples of other beliefs. On the basis of a God who is one and common to everyone, it is possible to put together an understanding among nations, with a view to joint action for peace, in defence of human rights, so as to carry out development projects… But this is only part of the evangelising action of the Church. Indeed, the Church offers the world a message with a new content and objectives with a much wider range.
For a Christian it is not enough to base oneself on a single God, and even less for a missionary, aware of the extraordinary revelation received through Jesus Christ; a revelation that embraces the whole mystery of a God who is Unity and Trinity. The God of Christians is unique, but not solitary. The Gospel that a missionary takes to the world, besides strengthening and perfecting the understanding of monotheism, opens the way to the immense and surprising mystery of God who is a communion of Persons. The feast of the Trinity is a feast of communion: the communion of God within us, the communion between God and us; the communion we are called to live, announce and establish every day and in every corner of the earth!
The three readings of this feast speak in turn of the three Persons of the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son and the Spirit. The Father is introduced in the role of creator of the universe (I Reading): from the context God does not appear to be unique, but as one who shares with Someone else (the mysterious Wisdom) his creation project. Everything is created with love; everything is beautiful and good; God reveals himself as a lover, jealous of his creation (v. 30-31). Blessed is the man who is able to recognise the beauty of God’s work (responsorial psalm). We find here also the theological and anthropological foundations of ecology and bioethics. The Son (II Reading) came to restore peace with God (v. 1), and the Holy Spirit floods our heart with God’s love (v. 5). The Christian God is always near to every person, inside everyone and works in their favour. (*)
For a Christian the Trinity is a friendly presence, a silent but reassuring company, as St. Therese of Lisieux, a missionary in her monastery, used to say: “I have found my heaven in the Holy Trinity who dwells in my heart”. The mystery is so rich and inexhaustible that always surpasses our understanding. Even the apostles (Gospel) realised that “it was too much for them”, so that Jesus entrusted to the “Spirit of truth” the task of leading them “to the complete truth” and to tell them “of the things to come” (v. 12-13). The ‘heaviest’ aspect of the mystery of God is certainly the cross: the suffering in the world, death, the suffering of the innocent, the death of the Son of God on the cross… Yet, thanks to the interior light-love-strength of the Spirit promised by Jesus, even this mystery makes sense to the saints. So much so that Paul (II Reading) boasted even “about sufferings” (v. 3); Francis of Assisi found “perfect happiness” even in unfavourable situations and praised God for “sister death”; Daniel Comboni wrote at the end of his life: “I am happy in the cross, which, if willingly borne for the love of God, generates triumph and life eternal”. Only the God-Love can enlighten even the absurd folly of the cross!
It is the God-Love that supports the martyrs and the missionaries of the Gospel. For the missionary Church draws its origin from the spring of love of the Father, through the Son, by the power of the Spirit, as Vatican Council II teaches: "The pilgrim Church is missionary by her very nature, since it is from the mission of the Son and the mission of the Holy Spirit that she draws her origin, in accordance with the decree of God the Father. This decree, however, flows from the «fount - like love» or charity of God the Father" (AG 2). From this the inseparable name combination of love- mission.
The Pope’s Words
(*) “The strongest proof that we are made in the image of the Trinity is this: love alone makes us happy because we live in a relationship, and we live to love and to be loved. Borrowing an analogy from biology, we could say that imprinted upon his genome, the human being bears a profound mark of the Trinity, of God as Love".
Angelus on the feast of the Holy Trinity, 07.06.2009
In the steps of Missionaries
- 30/5: St. Giuseppe Marello (1844-1895), Bishop of Acqui Terme (in Piedmont) and founder of the Oblates of St. Joseph for the moral and Christian formation of youth.
- 31/5: Feast of the Visitation: the encounter of Mary and Elisabeth is one of faith and of praise of God.
- 1/6: St. Justin, a Christian philosopher, born in Palestine and martyred in Rome (+165).
- 1/6: Bl. John B. Scalabrini (1839-1905), Bishop of Piacenza and founder of the Missionaries of St. Charles, for pastoral assistance to emigrants.
- 1/6: St. Hannibal M. of France (1851-1927), a priest from Messina in Sicily, and apostle of Prayer for Vocations and founder of the Rogationists.
- 2/6: Pope Paul III, with the Bull ‘Sublimis Deus’, condemned slavery in 1537.
- 3/6: Sts. Charles Lwanga and 21 fellow martyrs of Uganda, killed between 1885-1886 at Namugongo and around Kampala. With them were killed 23 more young people of the Anglican church.
- 4/6: Afonso Mwembe Nzinga, king of Kongo (XV century), the first African king to be baptized (1491). In 1518 his son Henry became the first African bishop of Sub-Saharan Africa.
- 5/6: St. Boniface, bishop and martyr (675-754), British monk, great evangelizer of Germany, bishop of Magonza, buried at Fulda.