June 15, 2014
Feast of the Most Holy Trinity
The passage we read from the Book of Exodus on the Feast of the Holy Trinity
follows upon a description of how Moses broke the first set of the tablets of
the commendments when he discovered the people of Israel worshipping the golden
calf (Exodus 32:1-19). In Moses' anger he threw to the ground and shattered the
tablets which had been inscribed by the very hand of God.
John 3: 16-18
Shortly after the time of Jesus' life rabbinic traditions developed suggesting
that although these broken tablets appeared to be ruined, and were soon replaced
by a second set, the people of Israel recognized that they were still holy and
that they were thus worthy of preservation. These traditions assert that the
pieces of the broken tablets were therefore collected and kept in the ark
together with the whole tablets as a sign of respect and reverence for the
instruments-now broken-through which God revealed his salvific will to his
The broken tablets of the rabbinic story may be taken as an analogy for the
brokenness which each one of us experiences during the course of life, and which
we see in many forms in the world around us. In spite of a person's weakness or
brokenness, the rabbis taught that every person, no matter how defeated or
broken by life, is worthy of respect and honor-we would say that they possess an
intrinsic dignity, bearing as every person does the image and likeness of God.
On Trinity Sunday we are reminded that God sees the world in this same way.
Although throughout the gospel of John "the world" is consistently described as
a reality which stands in opposition to Jesus, in today's gospel proclamation he
nonetheless says that he came by the will of the Father precisely to save the
very world which sought to put him to death, and which is often a source of
anxiety and frustration for us: "God so loved the world that he gave his only
Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have
eternal life" (John 3:16).
God did this in Christ because while the world has been corrupted by sin, it
remains intrinsically good because it was created by God, just as we are
fundamentally good in spite of the brokenness we experience due to our sins.
"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the
world might be saved through him" (John 3:17).
Later in John's gospel Jesus repeatedly emphasizes in his discourses to the
disciples that in order to come to eternal life with the Father-in order to
transcend the world and its brokenness as well as our own-one must believe in
Jesus himself, who says: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one
comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).
Turning back to where we began, from the pages of Exodus we hear today how the
Lord passed before Moses proclaiming: "The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and
gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity" (Exodus 34:6).
Moses then responded to this appearance of the Lord, saying, "Lord, come along
in our company. This is indeed a stiff-necked people; yet pardon our wickedness
and sins, and claim us as your own" (Exodus 34:9).
Moses recognized the brokenness of the people of Israel and their need for
salvation, and he begged the healing remedy of God's presence with them as they
journeyed in the desert. This Sunday as we commemorate the abiding presence of
the Holy Trinity in the life of the Church we give thanks for God's presence in
the person of Christ, who came to save our broken world; for his presence in the
Holy Spirit, who dwells in our hearts; and for his presence in us-broken vessels
made whole again through the gracious mercy of our triune God.
Fr. Edward Mazich, O.S.B.