A reading from the Book of Exodus
(Chapter 34:4b-6, 8, 9)
“Early in the morning Moses went up Mount Sinai as the Lord had commanded him, taking along the two stone tablets. Having come down in a cloud, the Lord stood with Moses there and proclaimed his name, ‘Lord.’ Thus the Lord passed before him and cried out, ‘The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.’ Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship.”
This is one of the critical moments in the history of Israel, Moses receiving the Ten Commandments from God and pleading with God, “O Lord, do come along in our company. This is indeed a stiff-necked people; yet pardon our wickedness and sins and receive us as your own.”
The false gods that Moses knew of at that time did not have the wonderful qualities that Moses attributes to the one true God: merciful, gracious, slow to anger, full of kindness and fidelity. That is the God that we believe in today.
(Daniel 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56)
“Glory and praise forever.” Yes, especially today, amid the horrors that we face in our society and in our world: warfare, millions of refugees, intractable poverty, climate change, and senseless deaths by gunfire. In these times, it may be harder for some to believe in this one true God, but it is ever more important.
A reading from St. Paul's second letter to the Corinthians
Here is a beautiful blessing from Paul to a people in crisis and great danger. “Brothers and sisters, rejoice. Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the love of God and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the holy ones greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”
Here we have a trinitarian blessing has been used from the beginning of Christianity.
I remember being taught as a child in Catholic school that we are all created “in the image and likeness of God” and that God was not an isolated being but a community of persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That being true, then we are all communal beings, starting with our families and moving out from there to friendships, various community groups, and the community of our Church. Of course, each of us is an individual, and we can and should pray to God in solitude, but praying in community is also something in our very nature. We don’t attend Mass only because it is an “obligation,” but because we want to worship in the assembly, the Body of Christ.
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John
“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”
Many people think of God as “up there” or “out there somewhere,” but God, the Father, shared his life with us in his Son, Jesus, whose body and blood we receive in the Eucharist. The Holy Spirit of God lives within every one of us. God is not “there” or “there.” God is here, now, and we can experience his presence as the Holy Trinity in the privacy of our prayer and in the celebration of the Paschal Mystery with the assembled church.
Photograph by Sharon Sentima on Unsplash.
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.