Sunday Scripture reading, June 7, 2020: Greet one another

Kevin Perrotta / CNS    |    06.03.2020
Category: Worship


The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

1) Ex 34:4-6, 8-9
Responsorial Psalm: Dn 3:52-56
2) 2 Cor 13:11-13
Gospel: Jn 3:16-18

Today is Trinity Sunday, and the readings, of course, give us insights into the three-person nature of God. But as I was reading through them, what jumped out at me didn't have anything to do with the Trinity.

The second reading is a letter from St. Paul to the Christians in the city of Corinth. He calls them to live in peace with each other. And since he expects his letter to be read aloud at their weekly assembly, he gives them a liturgical instruction about how to symbolize this peace: "Greet one another with a holy kiss."

Yeah, right, I said to myself. That's about the last thing we're going to be doing this Sunday. Greet one another with a holy nod would be more like it for us, as we stand six feet apart, trying not to share any virus with each other.

But then I thought of the famous Russian icon of the Trinity by the artist Andrei Rublev (Google Tretyakov Gallery Trinity icon). Rublev depicted a scene from the Old Testament. God comes to visit Abraham and Sarah. They are camping with their flocks. God appears to them as three men, passing on the road.

Abraham, not knowing who they are, offers them hospitality. They accept. Abraham and Sarah quickly get up a lavish meal. Relaxing after the meal, the three men -- that is, the Lord -- tell the elderly couple that they are going to have a child.

Rublev depicts the visitors as angels, with delicate golden wings and white halos, as a way of indicating that God is making himself present. Of course, the threeness of the visitors represents the three divine persons -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

They sit at the table looking at each other, seemingly attuned to each other without needing to say a word. And here's the thing. They are inclining their heads toward each other -- Rublev's way of showing that they are in perfect accord. In other words, they're nodding!

Rublev's icon is designed to show us (as the readings are designed to tell us) what happens with us today. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit visit us. They share with us the love they share with each other. They draw us into their peace.

And so let us share with one another a sign of that peace. And let the sign be a holy nod.

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Perrotta is the editor and an author of the "Six Weeks With the Bible" series, teaches part time at Siena Heights University and leads Holy Land pilgrimages. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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