First reading Exodus 34:4-6,8-9

‘Lord, Lord, a God of tenderness and compassion’

With the two tablets of stone in his hands, Moses went up the mountain of Sinai in the early morning as the Lord had commanded him. And the Lord descended in the form of a cloud, and Moses stood with him there.
  He called on the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness.’ And Moses bowed down to the ground at once and worshipped. ‘If I have indeed won your favour, Lord,’ he said ‘let my Lord come with us, I beg. True, they are a headstrong people, but forgive us our faults and our sins, and adopt us as your heritage.’

Responsorial Psalm Daniel 3:52-56

To you glory and praise for evermore.
You are blest, Lord God of our fathers.
Blest your glorious holy name.
You are blest in the temple of your glory.
You are blest on the throne of your kingdom.
You are blest who gaze into the depths.
You are blest in the firmament of heaven.

Second reading 2 Corinthians 13:11-13

The grace of Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit

Brothers, we wish you happiness; try to grow perfect; help one another. Be united; live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.
  Greet one another with the holy kiss. All the saints send you greetings.
  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Gospel John 3:16-18

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
‘God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost
but may have eternal life.
For God sent his Son into the world
not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved.
No one who believes in him will be condemned;
but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already,
because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son.’


Some thirty or so years ago I was chaplain at the University of NSW. One day a young man who was working as a gardener there popped into my office and asked me to explain the Trinity to him. Fortunately I had enough sense to pause and to ask him first how he saw it.

In a way that nicely avoided abstraction, he went straight to the heart of the mystery by speaking of the Trinity in terms of dance. He thought of the Father as the Dance, the Son as the Dancer and the Spirit as the Dancing.

We come to know the Dance by watching the Dancer. We experience the Dance when we are drawn by the Dancer into the Dancing. One could speak of God as Life, of Jesus as the one who lived this life and of the Spirit as the experience of living.

Perhaps best of all one can speak of God as Love, of Jesus as the Lover who incarnates this love, and of the Spirit as the experience of loving that we enjoy because of Jesus.

The answer to the question ‘Who am I’ is found here. We are creatures called to share in the intimacy of God’s love. That is why we experience this insatiable longing for love.

Knowing that God is Spirit reminds us to be attentive to the divinely inspired movements of our own heart: movements of longing as we yearn for closer communion with him whose Spirit inspires us; movements of wonder and praise as we rejoice in his being with us; movement of trust as we confide ourselves to God’s love; movements of pleading as we give expression to our needs. Knowing that God is Spirit reminds us to be sensitive to these same movements in every man and every woman.

Knowing that God is Word (Christ) reminds us to be attentive to the words and actions through which God speaks to us, and the words and actions through which we respond to him.

Knowing that God is Father, we learn to reverence the sacred ground of each person’s spirit, and be attentive to each person’s word, as together we journey towards him who is the Father of all.

Let us allow a saint to have the last word. I quote from Saint John of the Cross:

‘God dwells within you. You are yourself the tabernacle, his secret hiding place. Rejoice, exult, for all you could possibly desire, all your heart’s longing is so close, so intimate as to be within you; you cannot be without God.’

Fr Michael Fallon msc