During the four decades that I lived in the City of La Paz, Bolivia, I never really got used to the customs surrounding the feast of the Holy Trinity. Would you believe that the whole city of La Paz becomes one big fiesta? What started out in the year 1939 as a candle procession in a poor barrio on the side of the mountain has now become the most important folkloric event of the year.
As many as 67 groups take over the main arteries of the city, and folks from all parts of the country and beyond arrive to set up chairs and benches along both sides of every street to watch all day as some 25,000 dancers and musicians perform in honor of this holy day. Traffic comes to a standstill, and the only way to get anywhere is by foot, since all intersections are blocked by spectators, venders, policemen. Downtown a special area is reserved for a jury to judge the best group, evaluating punctuality, dance steps, costumes, number of participants, musical accompaniment and discipline. Besides the honor of a good rating, the best groups will lead the procession the following year.
The people call this day “El Senor del Gran Poder,” or the “Lord of Great Power.” They spend months preparing for this gala event, since everyone in some way is involved. If nobody in your family is dancing or playing music, surely someone is embroidering the costumes, shining rings, pendants, earrings for the dancers, teaching them their steps or making sandwiches and beverages to be sold to the onlookers. Truly all the people, big and small, participate.
What is the significance of the Holy Trinity in our lives? In Laudato Si', Pope Francis puts it this way: “The Father is the ultimate fountain of all, the loving and self-communicating foundation of everything that exists. The Son, his reflection, through whom all things were created, united himself to this earth in the womb of Mary. The Spirit, infinite bond of love, is intimately present at the very heart of the universe, inspiring and sustaining our journeys.” Wisdom spoke a Word and all creation came forth from Love. Our triune God called forth our world out of chaos!
Let us look at what Scripture says to us today. In the first lesson, Moses leaves the crowds to seek God in the heights where he can be alone. We know that Moses was frustrated with his people, had even smashed the tablets of God’s laws and broken them when he and God had found them worshiping an idol. The people had been unfaithful, and God had decided to annul the Covenant, which dated back to the time of Abraham. Now Moses again goes up the mountain, unsure of what God wants of him. There Moses realizes that God is merciful and full of compassion, and so Moses dares to beg God to repent of the decision to abandon them and instead to continue to accompany the Israelites.
Our responses to the reading from Deuteronomy fill our hearts with the praise and glory due to our Creator, who conceived us some 13.7 billion years ago and guided the evolutionary process forward so that we might enjoy its fruits.
The second reading, from the letter to the Corinthians, enjoins us to reform our lives and to bask in God’s love and peace, praying that the grace, love and fellowship of God be with us.
In John’s gospel we have the assurance of eternal life for all of us who believe in the only begotten Son. We give thanks to the God of love who sent Jesus to teach us to live in peace and love one another. This is today’s challenge, to love as God loves us, who forgives us even as Moses’ people were forgiven, who uses our sins and limitations to draw us closer through forgiveness.
Are we living up to what God asks of us, the Chosen people of today? Are we caring for this wonderful creation, or taking it backwards to its original chaotic state? Chief Seattle reminds us that the earth does not belong to us; we belong to the earth. How can we participate with others to protect the wonders the evolutionary process has wrought for us and be open to the future?
Together let us give praise to the God whose love creates us, leads us out of slavery of our idols, and inspires us to love. Glory and praise to you, oh holy Trinity, for guiding us until now. Open our minds and hearts to your message, we pray!
Photo: Image of "Jesus of Great Power" at the door of the church of the same name in La Paz, Bolivia, on Trinity Sunday, 2010. Photo by De Mrduranch and available via wikimedia commons.