Sunday, May 18, 2008

Feast of the Most Holy Trinity - homily

I was on a retreat in high school that was pretty intense. At one point during the retreat, we went into our small group to talk about some major stuff – life, family, faith, friends, etc. One of the guys in our group who was a very good friend of mine began to talk about his life. He kept referring to “Bill” in his talk – “Bill” has always been good to me; “Bill” and I get along great; I was asking “Bill” the other day…Finally, the group leader interrupted him by saying, “I’m sorry, but who is Bill?” My buddy who is very funny said, “God. I call God, ‘Bill’”. Needless to say, it helped lighten up the intense mood!

Ever since we have existed, we have wanted to know who God is and what to call Him. For the first thousand years or so, no one knew God’s name. It was until God revealed His name to Moses and the Israelites: “I am who am”, or “Yahweh” in Hebrew. The Jewish people were in such awe of the name of Yahweh that they never said the word. It was only the Jewish priest who would say the name of God once a year. He would go into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement – Yom Kippur – and say the name of Yahweh. When the people heard this, they bowed down with great reverence and respect at hearing the name of God.

Jesus reveals more fully who God is and what His name is – God is Father, Son, and Spirit. We celebrate the Most Holy Trinity today. God has revealed himself fully to us in Christ and asks us to believe in his name. We see the early Christians had tremendous respect for the name of Jesus, continuing the Jewish tradition of honoring the name of God. It took on an even more intense form, as we know from the Acts of the Apostles. In Acts chapter 5, the Apostles are “rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name (of Jesus)” (v. 41).

Do we approach God’s name with great reverence and respect? Are we like the Jews and only use His name in regards to worship? Are we like the early Christians who believed so firmly in the name of Jesus as today’s Gospel calls us? Or, do we follow the ways of the world and throw God’s name around like it’s just any other word? One look at today’s TV shows or movies reveals how careless our society is in using the name of God. I find myself constantly whispering a “sorry, Lord” when viewing certain programs. There is even a phrase on internet and cell phone media: “OMG”. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always stand for “Oh my Gosh”. Many of us have unfortunately fallen into the secular habit of taking God’s name in vain even when it involves minor frustration or even excitement.

May the Eucharist help us to keep God’s name holy. May the grace of this sacrament help us to return to our Jewish roots in honoring the name of God. When we come to the Eucharist, it’s like we are in the new Holy of Holies; we not only hear God’s name, we see Him under the signs of bread and wine. And, when we see Him, we are encouraged to whisper His name, “My Lord and my God”. This is the phrase that St. Thomas said when he saw the risen Christ. The Church encourages us to whisper “My Lord and my God” when the priest elevates the consecrated host and wine.

Finally, may the Eucharist help us to live Trinitarian lives. May our lives be offerings to the Father, in the Son, and through the Holy Spirit. May we always live our lives in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.


At 7:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I’m a generation “X” parent raising generation “Y” children, and I’m learning a lot.

At one point on this blog, it was suggested that the homilies be podcasted (honestly- then, I didn’t know what that meant), but now I do, and the idea strikes me kind of odd. I picture our children multi-tasking (as always) connected to the masses via TM or IM (I think there’s a difference), while getting ready to go out with friends, putting on mascara and listening to their pastor’s homily via Ipod- ALL AT THE SAME TIME. This new generation is being raised on fast food, instant access to just about any kind of information and instant pleasure (instant pleasure, instant pleasure…). So in reading FG’s homily, I thought- do we even teach our children to listen with the discernment beyond the obvious vulgarities?

It’s easy to let much go by rather than point out to your children that “this is an offense to God” or “that is sacrilegious,” because so much of our culture is steeped in what are now “norms” in both communication and behavior. There are many factors working against us in the raising of this next generation to be people of faith- PEOPLE OF FAITH as we are meant to be, not people of faith as the secular marketing-minded world would have us define ourselves.

I find my youngest children are most respectful in matters of God (in ways they understand at their ages). My 10 year old regularly chides anyone who uses the “OMG” (while my older daughter rolls her eyes at him). This morning one of my younger girls said, “I hate going to church! It’s boring!” Her older sister scolded her, “You just hurt God’s feelings! Say you’re sorry!” So the little one says, “Okay, okay… ‘s-o-r-r-y God.’” Well, that didn’t cut it with her sister, who said, “Do you think that made God feel better? Say it like you mean it!” So my little one says, “God, I’m sorry I said I hate church, but sometime it’s really long.” I tell this (not only b/c it tickled me) but because principles of reverence have been instilled in the young kids in a number of ways, more ways than for which I can take credit- in their school from their teachers and in their interactions with those people with whom they associate faith (the pastors), they’ve learned a sense of reverence.

I think it takes a lot of time and attention to help our children, as they grow, maintain that reverence- not only in their “big” choices (sex, drugs, drinking), but in the quite ones that define how they live each day. I see the number of kids who come out for the “Youth Mass” as 6:00 at SAA. Often they come w/o parents, w/o a group of friends and celebrate the Mass- simply because they want to be there. I know it shouldn’t, but it amazes me; maybe this next generation (our Generation “Y” and then “Z”) will be the ones who define how we all communicate with one another in ways that honor each other and, most importantly, honor God.

At 2:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just started reading a book I’ve had for a while that addresses the mystery of “God”. How to Know God, by Deepak Chopra approaches the mystery of God from a non-denominational point of view and uses the gist of the book in his subtitle, “The soul’s journey into the mystery of mysteries”. I do believe our concept of three persons in one God falls into the concept of a mystery.

I have not read any reviews from Catholic scholars, however, Fr. J. Francis Stroud, S.J., who, at the time of publication, was the executive director of the DeMallo Spirituality Center at Fordham University, offered the following as part of his endorsement: “...The philosophical and theological differences raised by scholars from other traditions make the book even more inviting for reflection and discussion. I personally found the book both rewarding and exciting and have enjoyed immensely the serious discussion it provoked. With this work Dr. Chopra moves his many talents from the arena of the medical to the realm of the spiritual, and in doing ‘awakens’ our consciousness, which is what spirituality is all about in the first place.”

Out of the 103 pages of the 300+ paged book I have read, I too have found it very thought provoking. I’m not real educated in the world of philosophy, but I can grasp and contemplate his philosophical approach to spirituality, which I believe, regardless of a religion’s viewpoint of “God”, is all about.

As I almost always do, with open ended, approaches to a “difficult to grasp” concept, I take what I understand within my conceptual framework, and leave that which makes no sense or I disagree with behind. The fun and educational part, in my opinion, is the discerning and learning process, as it makes me think. If you enjoy some contemplative thought in your free time, it might be worth picking up.

At 10:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I spoke with someone today who told me she was ME forty years ago, in reference to the state of my life right now- socially, physically, mentally, emotionally, etc. She happens to be Catholic with the same number of children as I.

She asked me a question that made me think (and I thought was worth sharing). She asked me if I thought people who got cancer were people God didn’t love. I said, “Of course not.” She proceeded to talk about my condition. I have a disease (different from cancer) but for which there is no cure, and (truly) I think it should probably be refereed to as a condition more so than a disease..

Anyway, she told me, that perhaps she (and maybe I too) have this disease, this on going condition, because we were meant to be people to learn to really rely upon God, She wouldn’t have survived without God helping her, and maybe she was chosen for this path b/c God wants her to know she needs Him, He wants her, and wants her to share the message. How big is that (and how brave is that to share with someone else you barely know)? She told me she was sure that God’s plan for her was to keep her close to Him.

That idea started me thinking about other thoughts I’ve had about good, solid, loving parents having handicapped children, loving and devoted spouses having mates with dementia, and parents losing children- obviously not things we would choose (our seemingly worst nightmares, in fact), but maybe God has a plan for those too to stay close. If we can get past the anger and grief of having our plans drastically changed, maybe we can learn to see some positive in the complexity of life’s events- hopefully it won’t take ME forty more years to see it!


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