Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sunday's Message: Trinity Sunday

Welcome back to another edition of Sunday's Message.  Here, I will reproduce the readings for Mass from The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition.  (I want to thank Greg Pierce at ACTA for giving me permission to do this weekly post.)  While this is not an "official" Catholic edition, one of my hopes for doing this new series is to have a lively discussion on the renderings, compared to the more formal ones we are use to reading and hearing at Mass.  Is there a place for a translation like this?  Could this be a good Bible to give to a Catholic "seeker" or young adult? I have used it while teaching my high school theology classes, along with the NRSV and NABRE, and have had positive results.  

I would like to also propose a question each week to reflect upon, particularly in light of the rendering found here in The Message:  German theologian Karl Rahner wrote in his treatise on the Trinity that
“despite their orthodox confession of the Trinity, Christians are, in their practical life, almost mere ‘monotheists’. We must be willing to admit that, should the doctrine of the Trinity have to be dropped as false, the major part of religious literature could well remain virtually unchanged.”  As you reflect on the profound mystery, and reality, of the Most Holy Trinity on this day, ask yourself whether or not your worship of God is merely "monotheistic' or full Trinitarian.

Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40
Ask questions. Find out what has been going on all these years before you were born. From the day God created man and woman on this Earth, and from the horizon in the east to the horizon in the west—as far back as you can imagine and as far away as you can imagine—has as great a thing as this ever happened? Has anyone ever heard of such a thing? Has a people ever heard, as you did, a god speaking out of the middle of the fire and lived to tell the story?
Or has a god ever tried to select for himself a nation from within a nation using trials, miracles, and war, putting his strong hand in, reaching his long arm out, a spectacle awesome and staggering, the way God, your God, did it for you in Egypt while you stood right there and watched?
Know this well, then. Take it to heart right now: God is in Heaven above; God is on Earth below. He’s the only God there is. Obediently live by his rules and commands which I’m giving you today so that you’ll live well and your children after you—oh, you’ll live a long time in the land that God, your God, is giving you.

Psalm 33
For God’s Word is solid to the core;
everything he makes is sound inside and out.
He loves it when everything fits,
when his world is in plumb-line true.
Earth is drenched
in God’s affectionate satisfaction.
The skies were made by God’s command;
he breathed the word and the stars popped out.
He spoke and there it was,
in place the moment he said so.
Watch this: God’s eye is on those who respect him,
the ones who are looking for his love.
He’s ready to come to their rescue in bad times;
in lean times he keeps body and soul together.
We’re depending on God;
he’s everything we need.
Love us, God, with all you’ve got—
that’s what we’re depending on.

Romans 8:14-17
There are things to do and places to go!
This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

Matthew 28:16-20
Meanwhile, the eleven disciples were on their way to Galilee, headed for the mountain Jesus had set for their reunion. The moment they saw him they worshiped him. Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally.
Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”


Anonymous said...

I don't know who said it, but when asked what the best translation is to read, this person said, the one you will actually READ. Years ago when my wife received the sacrament of confirmation, she was given a Douay bible by her mother. On a few occasions she tried to read it, couldn't understand it and never picked up scriptures again until she was much older.

She went through a retreat years later and was given a Good News translation and said "why wasn't i given something like this years ago?"

We can get all caught up in the nuances of different translations, and these are good discussions to have. However, the average lay person needs something they can understand and I think something like the Message is a great way to expose them to the story of scripture in a way that is understandable.


Dominic1752 said...

I'm still stuck on the part: "We must be willing to admit that, should the doctrine of the Trinity have to be dropped as false, the major part of religious literature could well remain virtually unchanged." -Karl Rahner

Anonymous said...

Thanks again Tim for the as ever penetrating question.
For me, the answer is generally Trinitarian but I do have to keep reminding myself!
Of all the Christian doctrines I have to confess this one perplexes me the most but as has been said often a God who could be fully understood this side of Glory would really be no God at all.
The quote mentioned by Keith has been attributed to Billy Graham, but used by many no doubt, myself included.
Thanks again Tim.

CarlHernz said...

Rahner was not saying that the two are different, as if some dichotomy exists between the two views. Rahner was saying that the Trinity is monotheism, and monotheism has been revealed to Christians as the Mystery of the Trinity. So true is this, Rahner illustrated, that if ever the impossible occurred and the Trinity were declared false, our worship would not be any different than what it is now.

I could not and would not be Catholic if our faith denied the truth of the Shema:שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יהוה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יהוה אֶחָד - Sh'ma Yisra'el Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Eḥad - Hear O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is One! (Deut 6:4ff, see footnote in NABRE.) This Law demands the worship of a single God, or the practice of monotheism. If I worshipped in any different form I would be breaking the Mosaic Law, not fulfilling it. While Christians aren't obligated to follow the Law in the old manner, they must fulfill its demands in Christ. (Matthew 5:17-19) The Shema is one of the two fundamentals of the Mosaic Law, a fundamental demand that teaches monotheism. Break it and you cannot be saved.--See Mark 12:28-34.

We do not worship three gods. We worship only one. The only difference is that our one, singular God exists in a manner that far exceeds human experience. Our one God is not a single entity like a human. Our God's life is so exalted that the One God exists as a Community.

Unfortunately from our vantage point, this Trinitatiran formula cannot be reconciled with our limitations. Due to the inability of our minds and the three dimensions of our temporal existence, God in Three Persons can neither be fully explained nor demonstrated. To comprehend the single God as a Trinity in the fullest sense requires leaving the confines of time and space for the Beatific Vision that is God. Like the fact the God has no beginning, this is one of those facets of God that have no empirical line of evidence except for faith.--Hebrews 11:1.

So if a Catholic worships God as One, he is also worshipping God as a Trinity. If another Catholic worships God as Trinity he worships only one God. Rahner was explaining that a Christian's Trinitarian worship was a monotheistic one, not one that rejected monotheism because it adopted Trinitarianism. Christian monotheism is always and only fully Trinitarian.

rolf said...

What Carl said! :-)

Laurence Foley said...

Although I am an RSV follower, I was blown away with the (new for me) messenger translation. Tim, you asked if there was a place for this type of translation. I must say: yes with a degree of enthusiasm! It would be a great experience if our congregations would occasionally hear this type of reading in place of the bland - and in my opinion - uninspiring translation that we get dripped to us every Sunday. What a splash of cold water!; what a wake up that would make to our somulent people!

Tom said...

I do wonder, in all practicality, how my faith life would differ if Trintarianism was taken away. I mostly pray to Jesus and Mary, alas, and give way too little thought or prayer to the Father and the Spirit.

TS said...

I like "The Message" this week, although "There are things to do and places to go!" does sound awfully Seussian.

Russ said...

Thanks to you, Tim, for the quote and thanks to Karl and Carl for their comments on the Trinity. Good stuff.