Trinity Sunday (Year B)

God has called you home, to feast with him at his table. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit!

3 young people on a sofa studying the bible together


First Reading: Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40

  • In this passage, the uniqueness of the Lord is emphasised in strong, unmistakable terms: he is the Lord God, he and no other. This central affirmation of faith means that idolatry is a particularly troublesome sin in the Bible, which again and again emerges and is rebuked. How does idolatry manifest in today’s world? You might want to consider things such as money, fame and status. But you might also want to consider how fashioning an image of God in our own minds, one which we are comfortable with, might also be a form of this perennial human failing.

Psalm: Psalm 32(33):4-6, 9, 18-20, 22

  • The psalm affirms the unique creative act of God; he alone made the heavens and the earth by his word or his command. But the psalm then, echoing Deuteronomy’s emphasis on God’s communication with his people, praises God as the one who sees human beings, rescues and saves us, loves and shields us. How do we hold these two truths together: the majesty of God, the creator of all, with the tenderness of his loving care towards us?
  • The refrain declares us happy, or blessed, as the people chosen by the Lord. How does this encourage us: that it was God who chose us.

Second Reading: Romans 8:14-17

  • Paul here calls each of us a son or daughter of God by the movement of the Holy Spirit which we have received, who makes us heirs with Christ; are we conscious of the Spirit’s presence and activity in us? What does being a child and heir of God mean to us?
  • Paul says it is the Spirit that enables us to cry out ‘Abba! Father!’ Is there a distinction between this Spirit-given call to the Father and the universal Fatherhood of God by virtue of all humans being made in his image and likeness?

Gospel: Matthew 28:16-20

  • Matthew here drops in the caveat that some hesitated in falling down before the risen Jesus. What does that say to you? How do we deal with doubts in our lives?
  • This is commonly known as the Great Commission; we can break it into a number of elements:
    • Go
    • Make disciples
    • Baptise them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
    • Teach them to observe Christ’s commands
      • What does this Great Commission mean for the Church as a whole, for your parish, and for your own personal life? How can you apply this model to your evangelisation, and does it challenge or shape your priorities?


Over the past few weeks we’ve been reflecting on the Persons of the Trinity in different ways; we’ve seen how the Father loves the Son, how the Son came into the world as Saviour, how the Spirit descended upon the disciples as upon us and lives within us.

Those threads come together on this day: Trinity Sunday.

The Trinity is powerfully relevant and absolutely practical in day to day life. There’s something unique and identifying about being a person. Personhood allows relationships.

That type of personhood is in God’s nature; there are three identifiable and relational persons in the oneness that is God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Each Person is totally God, but the Father is not the Son and is not the Spirit.

It’s confusing, I know, but it’s so vital to how we relate to God ourselves. Here’s a really simple way to think about it: God = what; Father/Son/Spirit = who.

Ok, but why is it vital?

Let me give you one example. Have a look at the Collect prayer for today’s Mass or almost any liturgy of the Church. You’ll see this format: it addresses the Father directly, through the Son, in the Spirit. That’s a biblical pattern; look at many New Testament prayers, and you’ll see it reflected there.

Prayer is TO the Father, THROUGH the Son, IN the Spirit: our acts of prayer are Trinitarian. Of course, we can go to Jesus directly or the Spirit directly, but there’s purpose and wisdom in how the Church prays liturgically and normatively. It’s this:

Our basic problem as human beings is that we are fallen. We are not holy. God, however, is searingly holy, so much so that the Seraphim in Isaiah 6 have to shield their faces from his glory.

God wants relationship with us, but if we were to approach him as he is with how we are now… it would be like flying too close to the sun. As an Eastern Rite communion prayer says, we would burn up like grass.

How can we have a relationship with a God who is dangerous for us to approach?

This is the dilemma that is answered at Mount Sinai with the giving of the Law. The first primary sacrifice of the Law was the whole burnt offering. To oversimplify it, the logic is this: the worshipper wishes to approach God (say to offer thanks for a blessing received), but first has to offer a whole burnt offering.

Unlike the other types of sacrifice, the whole burnt offering was totally consumed by fire. It is as if the worshipper was saying to the Lord: ‘I want to come and give you thanks, but I’m aware of how I fall short of your holiness. I want to approach you safely, so let your holiness burn up this offering instead so that I can come into your presence.’

In the New Covenant, Jesus is our whole burnt offering. The Son of God became the one wholly consumed on the Cross so that safe access to the Father is possible. In the Ascension, which we celebrated a few weeks ago, Jesus as the High Priest entered into the heavenly sanctuary, where he remains even now offering the merits of his sacrifice.

Of course, we still fall short of God’s complete holiness. This is where the Spirit enters the drama.

In baptism, which is the focus of today’s gospel passage, the Spirit grafts us into the Body of Christ.

We can approach the holiness of the Father because we are part of the Body of Christ; we go to the Father through Jesus. We can’t go without him! If we did, we would be burned up.

We are only able to stand in the Body of Christ because the Spirit of Christ lives in us and makes that connection real and constant.

Every time you pray, whether in the liturgy or privately, the Spirit connects you to Jesus the High Priest before the throne of the Father, and you speak to the Father as if through Jesus’ lips. That reality is as readily available to you as closing your eyes and making the sign of the cross.

The letter to the Hebrews sums it up succinctly: We have access to the Father’s presence and can come boldly (Hebrews 4:16).

The reality of the Trinity is as intimate and personal as your slightest, most fleeting prayer. Jesus came into this world to enable this kind of relationship to happen.

A few weeks ago, I referenced Rublev’s icon, the Hospitality of Abraham. The Trinity’s desire was to open up that empty space at the table for you. It was achieved in Jesus and is made accessible in the Spirit. The Father has called you home to feast with him at his table. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit!


  • Rite/Order of Christian Initiation of Adults: a rich source of meditation on the theology of baptism and Christian initiation as practised in the liturgy of the Church, with particular reference to the blessing of water for baptism
  • CCC 662 (Catechism of the Catholic Church): on Jesus the High Priest and his action in the liturgy
  • St. Augustine of Hippo, On the Trinity: famous and highly influential treatment of the theology of the Trinity