Vs.12 Jesus said to his disciples: “I still have many things to say to you but they would be too much for you now.
Vs.13 But when the Spirit of truth comes he will lead you to the complete truth, since he will not be speaking as from himself but will say only what he has learnt; and he will tell you of things to come.
Vs.14 He will glorify me, since all he tells you will be taken from what is mine.
Vs.15 Everything the Father has is mine; that is why I said: All he tells you will be taken from what is mine.”
John 16: 12-15
In the Liturgy there are two kinds of Feasts of Jesus: those that recall significant events in the life of Jesus – His baptism, Transfiguration, Resurrection – and then Feasts that celebrate some teaching of the Church or some aspect of our faith in relation to Jesus. The Feasts of Trinity, Corpus Christi, Sacred Heart and Christ the King belong to this second group.
The Feast of Trinity can be approached doctrinally – the formula is one that is very familiar to us: three persons and one God as set out in the Catechism.
It can also be approached from a biblical or scriptural point of view. Using this approach we look at the passage given to us by the church for the feast, recognise the passage in life-experience, and in this way deepen our ‘feel’ and our ‘understanding’ of life in the Trinity. When complemented by the Lectio journey with the word of God, the doctrine of trinity becomes transfigured – alive, vibrant and life-giving!
When did this take place?
This passage is taken from a long section of the gospel known as the “Last Discourse” (chapter 13:31-end of chapter 17). Jesus was facing the great crisis moment of his life – his arrest, trial and death were imminent. His words are wise and profound as with someone who knows the end is near. He is seeking to prepare and inspire his disciples for community life and mission after his death and resurrection.
Where did this happen?
This happened in the Upper Room in Jerusalem after the profound gesture of washing the feet of his disciples.
Who was there?
Jesus was with the eleven apostles – Judas has taken his leave, vs 30. The atmosphere is solemn and intimate. Jesus is with people he trusts and can speak from the heart without hesitation.
What happened ?
It is at times of crisis that the truth of a person is often revealed. This passage uncovers the inner disposition with which Jesus faced the crisis moment in his life. We see clearly the kind of person he was deep down, his spirituality, his deep self.
Humble: in his relationship with the Father: “everything the Father has is mine” – everything for Jesus was a gift from the Father and was received with gratitude. Jesus didn’t see himself as the origin of all. The Father was the source of life, love, meaning. In his relationship with the Spirit – the Spirit would finish his work-“he will lead you to the complete truth” V13. He knew that he didn’t have to do everything.
Self-confident: Jesus was secure in himself in where he had come from and in where he was going: to the Father. He is satisfied that he has done all he can and now it is over to the Spirit. What’s more he is confident that the Spirit would glorify him by making obvious the love and truth present in Jesus “He will glorify me” V14. He knew that he would not be diminished by the coming of the Spirit. He was not threatened by that in any way but delights in the fact that the Spirit will see to it that his work will be completed.
Compassionate: He displayed a huge sensitivity and compassion towards his disciples and where they were at on their personal journeys. He didn’t want to overwhelm them -V12 “I still have many things to say to you but they would be too much for you now”. He understood that one day they would be strong enough.
People who live in God, in the trinity, have those qualities: Humility and gratitude, security and self-confidence, compassion and gentleness.
Or another way we can enter into this passage is to see Jesus as a person who lives in the Trinity and recommends community living. All three persons show total trust in each other—Jesus experiences God as “Abba” and the Holy Spirit as “Paraclete”. At the same time they all know their need of each other. There is joy and strength in their mutual dependence. There is no competition, no domination, no rivalry and yet the individuality and contribution of each is preserved and cherished
Inclusion, equality, participation in an atmosphere of trust and mutual dependence are the hallmarks of a genuinely living and life-giving community.
Or finally, we can also look at the gospel passage on this feast of the Trinity as an invitation to relate to God: sometimes as Father, sometimes as Son, as Jesus, and sometimes as Spirit – the one at work in our lives and world. And of course sometimes as all three.
God as Father is the One we cannot see – the origin, source and creator, the unknown and unknowable. “Everything the Father has is mine..”
God as Son is God made visible in the person of Jesus of Nazareth himself and in Jesus today in so far as we experience God becoming flesh in others or in ourselves – the word made flesh and dwelling among us.
God as Spirit – the unobtrusive God within reality, a liberating force of God’s presence within every living thing he created. Whenever we see an act of kindness, marvel at the beauty of nature, or are moved to love, God is there as Spirit. “When the Spirit of truth comes he will lead you to the complete truth..”
If over time we experience God in these three different ways it is a sign of a healthy spirituality.
Some suggested guidelines for Meditation.
Can we remember an experience, when somebody who was hugely important in our lives was taking leave of us, and gave us a last and deep teaching that they wanted us to remember for the rest of our lives?
Can we remember someone faced with a great crises moment in life and it was there they showed us their true mettle; what was there all along came to the surface?
Can we identify someone in our lives, in whom we have seen that wonderful combination of humility and self-confidence, strength and gentleness, and who reminds us of Jesus in the gospel – the model of a person living in the Trinity?
Can we recognize that journey in our own lives from a time when we thought we had to do everything to a realization that while we had a part to play, it was not everything and we had to leave the rest in God’s hands?
Can we recognize in our catholic church any new openness and willingness to learn and receive from people of other churches and other religions?
Can we identify someone in our lives of whom we can say: “everything that person has is mine,” and now we know what love is?
Can we identify an experience of community living which mirrors something of the life of the Trinity: relationships of trust, interdependence, and respect for individuality and difference?
Let the prayers of thanksgiving, repentance and petition flow from your meditation – ideally these are expressed in our own words interlaces with words from the passage. (See introduction to Lectio stages.)
Let the rich silence of God’s presence grow and deepen as we journey to a prayer of no words and no images – simple presence to the presence of God. (Contemplative moment – see introduction).
We reflect on our experience of the work of God in the passage and in life until a truth or some truths emerge – new insights into life and love – which can be savoured and celebrated in prayer as they release their life-giving power in us, moulding and shaping our minds and hearts and bearing fruit in our lives. (Wisdom Moment – see introduction).