Reflection: The Most Holy Trinity

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Tuesday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church


[1st Reading – Ex.34:4-6,8-9; Dan.3; 2nd Reading – 2Cor.13:11-13; Gospel – Jn.3:16-18]


Jesus is speaking with Nicodemus and it is clear that Jesus’ relationship with Nicodemus is quite different from the relationship with his own disciples. For a start, Jesus is speaking with a Rabbi … a learned person, a Teacher who knows what is written in the scriptures (the Old Testament).

At the same time Jesus understood that he could be more open with Nicodemus, and so Jesus revealed, to this “highly cultured” individual, things that would be quite difficult to grasp and understand by the simple uneducated “work orientated minds” of his own disciples! Alas, even Nicodemus struggled to fully understand… or rather, he was not yet ready to accept Jesus’ teaching, which placed Nicodemus as one of those who “refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son”.

Let us take a moment to consider why Nicodemus is put before us as an example: Nicodemus has demonstrated an interest in Jesus’ teaching by taking the initiative to go and talk to Jesus during the night (where Jesus would have more free time to dedicate to listening as well as talking to him). Now, Nicodemus knew what was written about the Messiah, and therefore must have realised that Jesus was acting like the foretold Messiah. But there is something in Nicodemus’ cultural formation that placed his acceptance of what Jesus said in an awkward position: namely, that there is only one God, so how can it be that this Jesus speaks about the ‘Son of God’? This concept was so difficult for Nicodemus to grasp that Nicodemus simply ‘refused to believe’. Although Nicodemus was a highly cultured man, he still found it difficult to understand and to accept Jesus’ teaching about ‘God’ and his ‘Son’. Jesus was speaking of only two persons of the Trinity (He has not mentioned the Holy Spirit yet!) and still for Nicodemus this was too incomprehensible and unacceptable.

So, how do we compare with Nicodemus? Well, unlike Nicodemus, we are not highly literate in the sense of what the scripture says. Unlike Nicodemus it often happens that we are not ready find the time to create a dialogue with Jesus (and let him speak to us). But like Nicodemus we may struggle to believe and at times we may also ‘refuse to believe’ because we have our own fixed ideas of how things are/should be and deep down we do not really want to change.

Furthermore, Nicodemus had only two persons of the Trinity (the Father and the Son) to deal with and we have all three (the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son)… and understandably this could make things even more difficult to grasp. Jesus is quite aware of this and so he is asking us to simply believe in him, and in doing so, we may arrive to ‘understand’ the mystery of the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is not to ‘understand’ in a ‘cultural/literate’, but in a ‘spiritual’ sense which can only be achieved through faith in Jesus. Once we believe in the Son of God, we may have eternal life (as Jesus promised) and therefore we can ‘understand’ the true meaning of what Jesus tried to reveal when he spoke about his Father in heaven and the Holy Spirit that he gives to those who believe in him.

“Lord, bestow on us the gift of faith. Help us to be readily open to your word and to create a relationship with you and through you to create a relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit.  Thank you Lord!”


Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo )

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