Sat, June 11, 202210 mins readFather Hans Buob

Trinity Sunday

Biblical Homilies on the Sunday Gospels in Reading Year C

Painting of the Holy Trinity with a Crown, by Max Fürst, 1917.

Bible passages


John 16:12-15

‘I have much more to say to you. It is more than you can handle right now. But when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own. He will speak only what he hears. And he will tell you what is still going to happen. He will bring me glory. That’s because what he receives from me he will show to you. Everything that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said what the Holy Spirit receives from me he will show to you.’

Biblical Homilies


"I have much more to say to you. It is more than you can handle right now.“ (cf. verse 12)

The mystery of the Trinity is the greatest mystery of our faith. This infinite, incomprehensible mystery, from which everything flows, will occupy us for an eternity. We will be drawn deeper and deeper into it.

That is why Jesus says to his disciples in the Upper Room before his suffering: "I still have many things to tell you...". At first it sounds as if he has not told them everything. But he has already done that, only they cannot yet understand many things. He did not hide anything from us. He clearly said to the apostles, "I have told you everything I have heard from my Father." (Jn 15:15) And also in today's Gospel he says: "All that the Father has is mine."

And yet the disciples cannot carry it now. In Greek, this "carry" actually means "to bear a heavy burden" and this "cannot carry" (δυναμαι / δυναμισ): "You do not yet have the strength" In the New Testament, however, this dynamis repeatedly stands for the Holy Spirit. So it means: You do not yet have the power of the Spirit to carry all that I still have to say to you. It would crush you because you would misunderstand it. You still lack the strength from above.

"But when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own. He will speak only what he hears. And he will tell you what is still going to happen.“ (cf. verse 13)

So Jesus does not have to overtax the disciples, for they do not remain alone: the Spirit of truth will lead them into all truth. In the Greek it says: the Spirit of truth will be your guide in the truth. He will lead you into all truth, even into that which you cannot yet bear and see through.

The Spirit of God leads us through the Word of Truth, the Holy Scriptures, to the truth, to Christ, who says of Himself: "I am the truth". That is his task, also today. If we hand ourselves over to him, if we invite and allow him, the Holy Spirit does not allow us to fall into error or lies. With the help of truth, he makes us recognise error. That is why it is so important that we read the Holy Scriptures again and again, this Spirit-breathed Word, this Word of truth, and take it into ourselves. Then the Spirit of Truth, who is present in this Word, will give us more and more the gift of discernment and make us sensitive to all the errors with which we are confronted today in all kinds of statements. And Jesus tells us here quite clearly: This is the business of the Holy Spirit. He will lead us through the word of truth to the truth, namely to Christ. And he, the Spirit of truth, will give us the gift of discernment in this word of truth, the Holy Scriptures, so that we do not fall into error.

Therefore, if we regularly take in and contemplate the word of Jesus, the word of truth, we will perceive more and more everything that does not correspond to this truth. The Holy Spirit brings this about, because the Word of God is spirit and life, or, as it says in the Letter to the Hebrews: power and life. It brings about discernment. Therefore, when reading the Holy Scriptures, we should always ask the Holy Spirit to give us the gift of discernment through the words of the Holy Scriptures, so that we can distinguish truth from error in all that is heard in the Church today. So we can rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us into the truth. However, we must also allow him to do so!

The Holy Spirit will speak all that He hears. So he will not speak from himself, but say what he hears. But to whom does he listen? He listens to the Word and this Word is Jesus. Here again this indissoluble unity between Father and Son is mentioned. The Spirit listens to the Word of the Father, to Jesus. He says nothing of himself, but takes from what Jesus heard from the Father. The Son proclaimed to us what he heard from the Father. And the Holy Spirit reminds the disciples of all that Jesus said, i.e. He leads through the Word into the inner mystery of Jesus and through Jesus into the mystery of the Father. Therefore, when reading the Scriptures, we should always invite this Holy Spirit. This is very important. All this is contained in this word "remember".

"He will bring me glory. That’s because what he receives from me he will show to you.“ (cf. verse 14)

The Holy Spirit is, so to speak, in the prophets, because the prophetic gifts, the charisms, are gifts and effects of the Holy Spirit that accompany the proclamation. Thus, in prophecy, the Holy Spirit will proclaim what is coming. Let us think of the Apocalypse: the Holy Spirit speaks to John and John to the churches. He reveals what is to come, also for our time. In the Acts of the Apostles we learn in three places that through the prophetic gift of a person the Holy Spirit reveals to those present what is to come. Or let us think of the prophetic gift in the saints, such as St Hildegard of Bingen, who through prophetic gift 800 years ago already saw our time as it is today. Hildegard of Bingen was also the one who said the beautiful word: "Since the office was given to men by God, women have a special part in the prophetic office." So it is women who speak prophetically and Spirit-led. Another way in which the Spirit of God proclaims what is to come is through the teaching ministry of the Church. It is always the same Spirit who proclaims, who speaks prophetically in all these different ways.

The gift of prophecy in the New Testament is exhortation, edification, comfort. So the Holy Spirit does not lead beyond Jesus - for he is the truth - but leads deeper into Jesus. He reminds, as we said before, i.e. he leads into the interior of Jesus. For example, St. Paul, but also John or Peter write things in their letters that Jesus had not yet said. Because the disciples would not have understood it at that time or would not have been able to bear it when, for example, Paul speaks of the cross - there is salvation in the cross - and of the love of the cross. This is the leading of the Spirit into the depth of truth, of which Jesus says at the beginning that the disciples now, without the Holy Spirit, could not yet bear and grasp, e.g. the meaning of the cross, its role in the world in the sense of redemption, also in my own life. The Spirit of God, through Paul and through others in the various letters, has, as it were, not developed beyond, but deepened what Jesus said. This is also the meaning of all new dogmas: an ever deepening of the truth that Jesus has already revealed. This deepening is the task of the Holy Spirit.

"Everything that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said what the Holy Spirit receives from me he will show to you.’“ (cf. verse 15)

The Holy Spirit is filled with Jesus and glorifies Jesus, for he takes from what is his. Where Jesus is magnified, the Holy Spirit is at work. Where Jesus is recognised, the Holy Spirit is at work. Jesus as the Word spoken by the Father is glorified by the Holy Spirit and the Father in turn is glorified in Jesus. That is why He says, "All that the Father has is Mine; therefore I said, He takes of that which is Mine and will declare it to you." The Spirit reveals Jesus and thereby glorifies Him and His redemptive act, and in Him the Father, for He has all things from the Father. This again is the wonderful mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. There is no competition, no envy, no jealousy, but the Son receives from the Father and the Holy Spirit in turn receives from the Son, the Word of the Father, His own and communicates it. They are all three equal in dignity, in greatness, in divinity. None is less God than the other, but they have different, "tasks" or "ministries" - that is, of course, a strange word within God - in the Most Holy Trinity, and they do so in perfect freedom and in real love. This love is shown in the fact that each one contributes his or her own completely and fulfils his or her place and mission completely, so that no one can exist without the other. This is the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, which is reflected and should be reflected in the mystery of the Church.