Tag Archives: Trinity

Lamps in the Light

Fourth Week of Lent, Thursday

Exodus 32:7-14; John 5:31-47 

He was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light. But I have testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me… For if you had believed Moses, you would have believed me, because he wrote about me.

John 5:35-36, 46

The children of Moshe Rabbeinu (“Moses our Teacher”) had difficulty accepting the Messianic claim of Jesus of Nazareth. Wonders and signs failed to convince; teachings in the synagogue alienated. Mysterious references to his invisible, inaudible Father “who testified on my behalf” eluded not only his adversaries but even his friends (John 5:37; 14:9).

The tablets of the Ten Commandments were akin to the tree of life for Israel, guarded in the ark of the covenant by two cherubim as at the gates of Eden (Exodus 25:18-22). The word of God, living and active, fed the Israelites in the desert of exile as a refreshing, spiritual drink. Yet Jesus called into question the confidence of those who prided themselves as faithful keepers of the law shaped by the divine word.

…and you do not have his word remaining in you, because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent.

John 5:38

Jesus’ lamentation was devastating, for to be void of the word of God meant death and destruction.

You search the scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life.

John 5:39-40

The first statement may also be read as an imperative: “Search the scriptures, because you think that you have eternal life through them.”1 Moving from the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures) to the man, Jesus, required a gigantic leap of faith. 

The awe-inspiring, wholly transcendent God of Mount Sinai spoke to Moses “face to face” from between the two cherubim over the ark in the tent of meeting (Numbers 7:89). The ark represented the ultimate manifestation of God’s physical presence on earth (shekinah). For a man to claim to be God in the flesh was the height of blasphemy.

Jesus, a Jew among Jews, understood the trauma and dissonance surrounding his person and work. Thus he appealed to the testimony of John the Baptist, his Forerunner, and especially to Moses, Israel’s foundational teacher and lawgiver. The appearance of Moses and Elijah with Jesus at the Transfiguration ratified his status as the true Messiah and Son of God.

The following poem is a reflection on Jesus’ appeal to his witnesses in John 5:31-47.

The lamp of the law given to Moses2 
Illumined prophets, priests and kings.
Pharaoh’s rival esteemed Christ’s reproaches
More than Egyptian glitterings.3

Elijah’s word burned like a blazing torch, 
Calling fire down from the heavens.4 
John prepared the way for the fan to scorch,5 
The Lamb’s lamp waking to penance.6

Dim was the lamp in the Light of the Word
Born in the beginning with God.7 
Hearts filled with the word recognize the Word,
Acknowledging the love of God.8

He who has seen me has seen the Father9 
Though his form is invisible.10 
Alone I am not, but from my Father—
His charaktér made visible.11

Moses, Elijah and I are aflame—
Lamps in the triple Light of God.12 
The Torah and Prophets proclaim
That I AM WHO I AM, your God.

-GMC


References

1 See New American Bible (Revised Edition) footnote to John 5:39

2 Psalm 119:105.

3 Hebrews 11:26.

4 Sirach 48:1, 3.

5 Luke 3:17.

6 John 1:29; 5:35.

7 John 1:6-9; 1:1-2.

8 Inverse of John 5:38, 42.

9 John 14:9.

10 John 5:37; 1:18; 6:46.

11 Charaktér from Hebrews 1:3: image, stamp, or imprint. Click phonetics for the pronunciation of charaktér.

12 Transfiguration of Jesus: Mark 9:1-8; Matthew 17:1-8; Luke 9:28-36. Triple Light refers to the epiphany of the Holy Trinity.

You Have but One Father in Heaven

“You have but one Father in heaven”
Matthew 23:1-12 “in a snailshell”
Saturday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
Related posts: Lent, Day 12, Abba, Draw Us to Your Son, Mysteries Too Deep, Servant Leadership
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’ As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Messiah. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Matthew 23:1-12

Between the Creator and creation, there is no barrier. Phylacteries and tassels, like the fig leaves of Eden, seek cover from the original, naked simplicity before God. 

As no barrier exists between the Son and the Father, none exists between the Son’s brethren and the Father. Abba’s children are directly in his hand and in his womb. God designed the human person to hear his voice directly in the Spirit. The Son of God came to restore Adam’s union with the Father, for “the Father and I are one” (John 10:30).

In the Bread of Life discourse, Jesus quotes Isaiah 54:13, which prophesies a new intimacy with the Father:

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day.

It is written in the prophets:
‘They shall all be taught by God.’

Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.

John 6:44-45

All your children shall be taught by the Lord;
great shall be the peace of your children.

Isaiah 54:13

The Hebrew word for “peace” is shalom, which means wholeness, soundness, and completeness in God. Fractured Adam and his offspring will be made whole by the Spirit of God:

I will pour out water upon the thirsty ground,
streams upon the dry land;
I will pour out my spirit upon your offspring,
my blessing upon your descendants.

Isaiah 44:3

The law of life written on hearts is the voice of the Holy Spirit, our interior teacher:

But this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days—oracle of the Lord. I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. They will no longer teach their friends and relatives, “Know the Lord!” Everyone, from least to greatest, shall know me—oracle of the Lord—for I will forgive their iniquity and no longer remember their sin.

Jeremiah 31:33-34

And I will give them another heart and a new spirit I will put within them. From their bodies I will remove the hearts of stone, and give them hearts of flesh, so that they walk according to my statutes, taking care to keep my ordinances.

Ezekiel 11:19-20

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost fulfilled the prophecy of Joel:

It shall come to pass
I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions. 
Even upon your male and female servants,
in those days, I will pour out my spirit.

Joel 2:28-29 (NABRE: Joel 3:1-2); cf. Acts 2:17-18

The essence of prophecy is the recognition of truth, which is given by the Holy Spirit:

But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.

John 16:13

In the Last Supper Discourse, Jesus enigmatically told the disciples that the hour and day is coming when he will no longer intercede for them. They will find themselves “in the Father” just as the Son is “in the Father.”

I have told you this in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures but I will tell you clearly about the Father. On that day you will ask in my name, and I do not tell you that I will ask the Father for you. For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have come to believe that I came from God.

John 16:25-27

I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.

John 17:20-23

One, Two, Three… Return to Trinity!

“One, two, three… Return to Trinity!”
A reflection on Matthew 19:3-12
Friday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

Some Pharisees approached him, and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?” He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” They said to him, “Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss her?” He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.” His disciples said to him, “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” He answered, “Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom that is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.”

Matthew 19:3-12

The Trinity is present in the second line of the couplet as breath (Holy Spirit), the Word (Son), and God the Father.

Beneath the discussion about marriage lies a primordial metaphysical truth: the essential unity of the human race in Adam/Christ beyond the division of the sexes. The virginity of Christ mirrors Adam’s original virginity stamped in the image of the Virgin Father, Virgin Son, and Virgin Holy Spirit. See the related post: Marriage, Christ and the Trinity.

Marriage on earth is a sign of the union between Christ and the Church, divinity and humanity in the second person of the Trinity. In the person of Christ, male and female, Jew and Gentile (individuating characteristics belonging to general classes) are integrated in the Body of Christ. Unlike monism, however, ultimate reality is simultaneously one and many due to unique, unclassifiable persons.

Jesus’ final words about eunuchs for the kingdom of God establishes the vocation of virginity/celibacy as an eschatological sign of the multi-personal unity of the human race in the communion of the Trinity.

The Transfiguration of the Lord

“The Transfiguration of the Lord”
Mark 9:2-10 in a couplet (Solemnity of the Transfiguration of the Lord)
Related post: Second Sunday of Lent
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; then from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them.

As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.

Mark 9:2-10

The Cross and the Beatitudes

10th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday (Year I)

2 Corinthians 1:1-7; Matthew 5:1-12

A single teardrop from God could wash away the sins of the world, but the Father gave his only-begotten Son to the last drop of blood.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Our “Father of compassion” (2 Corinthians 1:3) is moved like a mother in the depths of her womb for her children. The Greek word for compassion (oiktirmos) translates the Hebrew word rachamim (from racham) in the Greek Septuagint, which means womb, tender love, mercy, and pity.1 God the Father sent the Son of his Eternal Womb into the womb of the Virgin Mother and Earth for the love of the world.

Our Father is also the “God of all encouragement” or “comfort” (paraklésis), a word that evokes the Holy Spirit, Comforter, and Paraclete (paraklétos).

Our Father who sent his Son and Spirit into the world is indeed a God of compassion and comfort, taking humans by surprise. 

Why not a God of sophia (wisdom) in the heights of heaven, an object of pure contemplation beyond human reach and relationship, to satisfy the Greeks?

Why not a God of power and authority, who would overthrow the Romans and enthrone the triumphant Messiah, to satisfy the Jews?

The plan of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit upset both reason and religion in the course of human history (1 Corinthians 1:22-23). The sufferings of Christ shattered all human expectations. What are philosophers and worshippers to do with a crucified God?  

St. Paul considered the “scandal” and “foolishness” of the Cross to be his greatest treasure. What all humans avoid, the apostle embraced to “overflowing” (2 Corinthians 1:5). St. Paul found true wisdom and power in the self-negation of the Cross.

Jesus transformed the curse of suffering and death into the blessing of eternal life. The Beatitudes from his Sermon on the Mount, full of paradoxes, are a roadmap to the fullness of life in God.

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God. 
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:3-12

The earthy God of the Cross and the Beatitudes shed tears and blood for us. Ever new and strange, the Gospel never ceases to challenge the human heart.

-GMC


Reference

1 An example of this Hebrew idea translated into Greek can be found in 1 Kings 8:50 (Hebrew, Greek).