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HOLY TRINITY (B) May 26, 2024

Deut 4: 32-34, 39-40; Psalm 33;
Romans 8: 14-17; Matthew 28: 16-20

by Jude Siciliano, OP


Dear Preachers:

The title of today’s feast can be misleading to both congregation and preachers. This is not a day we celebrate a dogma of the Church. Dogmas are important, but we don’t worship them as we gather for liturgical celebration. Nor is a day for a catechism lesson on how one God can have three faces and be called by three different names. I don’t plan to take a shamrock into the pulpit this weekend to show how God could be one and three at the same time.

Someone said once, “Anyone who talks of the Trinity, talks of the cross of Jesus and does not speculate about a heavenly riddle.” (Sorry, I don’t know the source for this quote.) Christians know about God through our experience and key to that experience is something we have in common – suffering and the cross. I know a 56 year old woman who is a vibrant and fun-loving woman. She loves her family and they return that love. She has been described by her children as “the glue that holds the family together.” She had severe back pain and an X-ray revealed a broken vertebrae.

But when she was in surgery they discovered cancer. Further tests showed the cancer had spread to her lungs. It had metastasized. Her daughter called a young woman friend and wept hysterically over the phone asking, “Why did God do this to her?” It is a question we have all heard during similar crises and maybe is a question we too have asked at similar times in our own lives. It is the question we ask out of pain and confusion, when life takes a harsh turn and threatens our faith.

It is really a Trinity question, isn’t it? Who is our God? What is our God like? It isn’t a question about church dogma or “heavenly riddles.” When Jesus looked at what was coming at him in the Garden of Gethsemane he felt it was more than he could bear, so he asked God for it to be taken away. But God wanted to stick it out with us, not pull the emergency brake and get off. If Christ had been given a quick exit that night in the garden, then we would feel even lonelier in our struggles and pain. Instead God stayed with us; Christ showed us in his obedience that no matter how many physical or emotional stresses we have on us, God is not a stranger to our pain: no stranger to emotional pain – Jesus wept; no stranger to physical pain – Jesus was broken on the cross. That’s in the scriptures.

What’s not in the scriptures is that God sends us pain and suffering to test our faith. After all, what good parent would do a thing like that to a beloved child? And we do believe God loves us and that we are God’s children, don’t we? Paul reminds us in the letter to the Romans today, “The Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are children of God,...”

What is also not in the scriptures is what some people say to others who are in pain to console them. “God never gives us more than we can bear.” When people say things like that, I imagine God pressing down on someone to test their faith, but stopping just short of their breaking point. What a miserable and harsh God that would be! That’s not the God we celebrate on this feast of the Trinity. Here’s another one: “God helps those who help themselves.” I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that quote used to describe God. I have even heard people say that in scripture groups with open bibles on their laps and they quote it as if it were in the Bible they were holding. If we could help ourselves we wouldn’t need God, would we? When we are struggling and feeling lonely in our pain, we don’t need to hear about a God who will help us, but only if we can first help ourselves.

No – life has its ways of testing us; sometimes giving us more than we can bear. God is the one who helps us carry what life piles on us. Not only so we can just bear up under our burdens, but that we can even grow and mature through them. God can get us through to the other side of suffering stronger than when we first entered in. Now that’s the triune God Jesus sends his disciples into the world to proclaim.

When Jesus sends out his disciples to baptize, it is in the name of the God we have come to know through him: “Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” God the Creator – the source of life, the Creator who loves the works God had made. God the Christ – God in our flesh, who walked our walk all the way through death to resurrection. God the Spirit – the very life of God, in Jesus, offered us again here today as we celebrate and pray together.

How do we define the Trinity? Jesus tells us – “I am with you all days, until the end of the age.” Jesus has “defined” God for us – revealed God already with us. So, when someone calls us on the phone or weeps on our shoulder, and asks, “Why did God do this to me? What have I done to deserve this?” We can respond, as the young woman I mentioned above did, “I don’t understand all this. But I know God didn’t put this suffering on your mother. God is with us in this and God is crying with us too.” This young woman who said this to her friend is a high school graduate with three small children – she was balancing the youngest on her hip as she gave this response to her friend. There she was, a theologian, explaining the Trinity in a way her grieving friend could understand and embrace!

Click here for a link to this Sunday’s readings:


We do not think about the Trinity as much as experience it. Only then do we understand. And here is the paradox, that we understand the Trinity most when we realize that we do not understand.

Herbert O’Driscoll, “Prayers for the Breaking of Bread


To you I will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving
Psalm 116:17

In today’s scriptures, we find rich biblical images of sacrificial blood. Blood suggests both life—vitality, health, vigor--and death--without blood, one dies. Have you ever stopped to contemplate how many people have died to bring Jesus’ teachings to the twenty-first century? How many have died to give you the life that you now enjoy? There is no one who can claim that they have made it on their own. So, the question becomes, what will be our sacrifice, our blood, for future generations? Oblate Father Ron Rolheiser writes:

“God puts us on this earth not just for leisure and enjoyment, but also to serve others and to give our lives over in unselfish duty. Our private happiness and indeed our private sanctity, is not our highest goal. Once we accept this and begin to give our lives over in service, the duties innate within marriage, family, vocation, Church, society, and the needy will, at times, consume us in ways that can for long periods of time take away our freedom, our leisure, our rest, and even our time to pray as we ideally should. But that response to duty is also a healthy asceticism, albeit a conscriptive one, which can do for us the very things that private prayer and voluntary fasting can do, namely, push us beyond a self-centered life” (“The Asceticism of Pressure and Duty” NC Catholics, March, 2011)

To follow Jesus is more than to just observe the practices of a religion because Christianity is meant to be holistic, not just a segmented part of one’s life. The Gospels and Letters propose a new way to live as a community in the world. As a matter of fact, early Christianity was known as “The Way.” Many people view such a life as joyless but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Believing in something and sharing something greater than yourself is a joyous expression of the human person fully alive. What would it take to incorporate the teachings of Jesus into every aspect of your life?

Will you offer your life as a sacrifice of thanksgiving for all the blessings in your life and to bless future lives? There are so many needs in our world today that call for Christian love and commitment. To start, check out the Human Life, Dignity, and Justice Ministry pages at Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral | Human Life, Dignity & Justice (

Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS, Director
Office of Human Life, Dignity, and Justice Ministries
Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, Raleigh, NC


Mini reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for persons on the run. “Faith Book” is also brief enough to be posted in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.

From today’s Letter to the Romans:

The Spirit bears witness with our spirit
that we are children of God, ...
heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.


Today we do not celebrate a doctrine, but the heart of our faith: in Christ we have a special relationship with God, we are children of God and so “joint heirs with Christ.” We don’t have to fear and impersonal and distant God, because God is our “Abba,” the parent who has come to our rescue and adopted us.

So we ask ourselves:

  • How do I experience the dignity I have as a child of God?
  • What frequent behavior of mine diminishes me as a child of God?


"The death penalty is one of the great moral issues facing our country, yet most people rarely think about it and very few of us take the time to delve deeply enough into this issue to be able to make an informed decision about it."
– Sister Helen Prejean

Inmates on death row are the most forgotten people in the prison system. Each week I am posting in this space several inmates’ names and locations. I invite you to write a postcard to one or more of them to let them know that: we have not forgotten them; are praying for them and their families; or, whatever personal encouragement you might like to give them. If the inmate responds, you might consider becoming pen pals.

Please write to:

  • Iziah Barden #0491889 (On death row since 11/12/1999)
  • John Mc Neil #0275678 (11/10/1995)
  • Linwood Forte #0133102 (11/8/2003)

----Central Prison, P.O. 247 Phoenix, MD 21131

Please note: Central Prison is in Raleigh, NC., but for security purposes, mail to inmates is processed through a clearing house at the above address in Maryland.
For more information on the Catholic position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network:
On this page you can sign “The National Catholic Pledge to End the Death Penalty.” Also, check the interfaith page for People of Faith Against the Death Penalty:


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