Sunday, June 07, 2009

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity - homily

“Did anything so great ever happen before?” This question from our first reading (Book of Deuteronomy, chapter 4) prompted another question for me last week: what are the greatest events in the history of the world? I challenge you to think of the five greatest events that have ever happened. I think we’d all agree as Catholic Christians that three of the major events of God would be in the top five: creation of the world, redemption of the world (life, death, and resurrection of Christ), and revelation of God which I’ll get to in a minute. Other events on our list might be major discoveries or inventions, major events in government, politics or movements where good won over evil, the birth of Joe Gibbs…! (or maybe just Super Bowl XVII when the Redskins beat the Dolphins). I challenge you to think about this and maybe even post your list of the five greatest events in the history of the world on our parish blog site this week.

The author of the Book of Deuteronomy rejoices in the revelation of God as being a great event. If we know the story, people waited hundreds if not thousands of years to know who God is. He then revealed himself: “I am the Lord, your God…and you will be my people”. He revealed himself to them as their God who will protect and guide them and keep them safe. It is a slow but gradual revelation in the Old Testament. One of the things that surprises people when they study the Old Testament is how loving and merciful God is. Time and again, God offers another chance to his people even though they continually sin against him. He reveals himself and his love and mercy; this revelation finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

We’ve all heard of stories of people who were separated from their parents at birth (e.g., adoption). When they grow up and learn that they were separated from their biological parents, they want to know who their parents are. When they find the truth, it is a great event. It may not be the happiest event because there might be bad feelings involving abandonment, but the truth brings them peace and healing. It is the same way with all of us. When we learn who God is, it is one of the greatest events in our lives! God is our Father and we are his children. The difference with us is that when we learn that God is a Father who never abandons us, it is all good.

If any of us or anyone we know doubts that God is loving and merciful, all we have to do is look at a Crucifix. God sends his Son into the world not only to reveal himself to us through words – that God is Father, Son, and Spirit – but also through action. He loves us so much that he is willing to die for our sins to be forgiven. The Father sends the Son into the world to reveal himself, and then sends the Spirit to bring us into relationship with himself. It is through the Spirit that we enter into relationship with the Holy Trinity and that God is revealed to us in love and mercy. There are some who are yearning for God to reveal himself to them. They have received the public revelation of God through Scripture and Tradition. But, they desire a personal revelation of his presence, love, and mercy. It is my great hope that the Spirit will grant their prayer and that they may experience a deep revelation of the presence of God in their lives.

Finally, we enter into relationship with the Holy Trinity through the sacraments, starting with Baptism. Christ makes this clear in today’s Gospel (Mt 28:16-20). He tells the Apostles to go out to all the nations and invite people into relationship with the Trinity by baptizing them “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”. Every time I baptize a child or an adult, the Father, Son, and Spirit come to dwell in that person. The relationship begins there at Baptism and is nourished by the Eucharist. What a gift we have every time we come to Mass! We not only receive the revelation of who God is through the Word, but we also see God in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ. Where there’s the Son, there’s the Father and Spirit. We will see God on this altar in a few minutes, and then receive Him We will come in union with Divine Love: truly it is Holy Communion. As a family, we come in union with the Holy Family of Love – a Communion of Love. It is the greatest event of our day, no matter what other great events happen today. It is the greatest event of our week. It is the greatest event of our lives.


At 4:55 PM, Blogger CynthiaBC said...

I read Father Mike’s thanks to Music Ministry in today’s bulletin.

I think that most people are aware that preparing music for worship involves making a sacrifice of one’s time. An anthem that takes five minutes to sing may take weeks of rehearsal. Choir members must be committed to attending rehearsals regularly and promptly, else it’s difficult for the director to pull off a good performance.

What people may NOT be aware of is that church musicians offer a sacrifice not only of their time and talent, but also, sometimes, their own worship. It may sound disrespectful to speak of staging and timing in relation to Mass, but church musicians have to be as conscious of those things as thespians. We have to be ready at the right time in the right place with the right music else we detract from rather than enhance parishioners’ worship. [At my previous church home, the handbell choir rang in the side balcony and the choir loft was in the rear. Sometimes we’d have to really hustle from one place to the other, and then fly downstairs to make it to Communion. For some reason my suggestion of installing a fireman’s pole from the choir loft was not favorably received except by the younger half of the bass section.]

In worrying about being in the right place at the right time with the right music, church musicians may not always really hear the lessons and the homily. During one particularly hectic Christmas Eve, after the second of three services had finished, I realized that I’d forgotten to pay attention to what it was all about. Since then I’ve scaled back my participation, but now that my second-grader is herself ringing handbells and singing, I suspect the hectic Christmas Eves will make a comeback, but this time around I’ll make it a point to keep our focus on the right place.

So, I offer my own thanks to Father Mike’s. Without music, the words of the Mass just wouldn’t touch us the same way. Thank you for your time, and talent, and sacrifice.

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

I have a hard time understanding the Holy Spirit as the third “person” of the Trinity. I understand Jesus as fully God and fully man, but I’m fuzzy on my understanding of the Holy Spirit. In the Bible the Spirit comes as fire, wind, clouds, dove, etc. It conjures up the image if the Spirit being something akin to a force (reminds me of Star Wars). St. Paul calls us to be in fellowship and communion with the Holy Spirit, but I don’t quite know how to understand that happens.

At 1:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 7:55

It seems that the Holy Spirit doesn't get much attention except for Pentecost and Trinity Sunday. Not surprising that the HS isn't as concrete to us as the Persons of the Father and of the Son.

In fact, a couple months ago the recessional was a Trinitarian hymn - 1st verse about God the Father, 2nd verse about God the Son, 3rd verse...well, we didn't sing the 3rd verse because Fr G had already reached the back of the church. Poor Holy Spirit got the shaft.

At 10:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

7:55 PM anon:

If you view and understand God and Jesus as fully man, it sounds to me like you are viewing them through humanistic and rationalistic thinking. Humans have minds that live and think in finite terms. We live a finite life here on earth. Period. That's it. It's not something we can negotiate or control.

My question to you is this: "Can God and Jesus, who offer infinite love and salvation, be defined by our limited thinking? And, if God sent the Holy Spirit, can the Holy Spirit be defined by our limited thinking? How can our minds, minds that think within boundaries, possibly understand that which exists without boundaries?"

At 8:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anon 10:37-

Then why refer to Him as the third "person' of the Holy Trinity? I guess I'm getting caught up in semantics, so explain to me (with the acceptance that certain things are infinite and beyond our understanding), if the Holy Spirit is a WHO and not a WHAT, who is He?

At 3:19 PM, Blogger fran said...

A priest shared this analogy with my father, in grasping the Trinity:
We, too, are several persons in one.

My dad, for example, is father, son, husband, brother, uncle, etc, but remains one person. In each of these roles, his relationship with others is unique and separate.
Likewise, those in the roles of daughter, father, wife, brother/sister, nephew, etc. have relationships, with him, which are unique and separate too.

So, for the anon who wondered how to have a relationship with the Holy Spirit, I would ask, "what do you want it to be?" I think the possibilities are endless.

At 12:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Fran did a beautiful job of pointing out that the Holy Spirit can not be summarized. As she said, it is what you perceive it to be, at that will be different for each of us. So, for some people, it may be viewed as consisting as a who and a what.

Another example that mimics Fran's is comparing the Holy Spirit to water. Pure water is tasteless, odorless, and colorless and exists in three different states: solid (ice), liquid, or gas (vapor). Although the states differ, each form is simply water, and the gaseous state can not be seen.

10:37 pm anon


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