With the season of Easter now over, this Sunday and next Sunday are two special days in the Church that celebrate central mysteries of our faith.
Next Sunday – Corpus Christi – we will celebrate Christ offering his divine life to us in the Eucharist. Today – Trinity Sunday – we celebrate what we believe about God. In our limited capacity to comprehend the Divine, we understand from the Scriptures that there is one God in the three persons of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
How there can be three persons in one God is a mystery. And, as one of my college professors used to remind us, ‘explain a mystery and you explain it away’.
So what are we make of it? Well, let’s look at what’s in today’s Gospel text – John 16:12-15. These verses come towards the end of Jesus’ long discourse at the Last Supper. In the early part of this ‘speech’, as we heard last week on Pentecost Sunday, Jesus offers assurance to the disciples that although he will be physically absent from their lives, God the Father will send them a helper or Advocate in the (invisible) form of what we call the Holy Spirit.
In today’s text we hear Jesus speaking to these disciples about the future. He tells them that they will share in his victory over the ‘world’ i.e. the forces to reject and put him to death. But they must know, he says, that whatever shape their future takes, they will not have to face it alone. They will be given what he calls the ‘Spirit of Truth’.
What does Jesus mean by ‘Spirit of Truth’?
Jesus teaches that what he reveals (about God) comes – through him – from God the Father. He is the Word, channel of communication or means through whom God speaks. When he, Jesus, is no longer physically present – after he returns to the Father – he says the Father will send the Spirit to continue making Jesus’ teaching meaningful to them – and not just to them but to succeeding generation of believers like us. This ‘Spirit’ will lead people to the Truth about God that Jesus has revealed, hence his reference to the ‘Spirit of Truth’.
In our Baptism we each have been given this Spirit to guide us in our relationship with God and to support us in living the teaching of Jesus. This Spirit draws each one of us – weak, fragile, sinful and messed-up as we are – into the life and love of God. And no failing, mistake or sin of ours can prevent or debar us from this love: no sin is greater than the love of God revealed to us by Jesus.
Now this won’t change the baby’s nappy or get the ironing done. But what a mystery! We are drawn into the inner life and love of God the Father through Jesus and by the Holy Spirit. And whatever the future holds, we do not have to face it alone. The Holy Spirit is at our side, a source of strength to call on when we need it.
Holy Name, Jesmond
16 June 2019