11 June 2017Trinity

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
Trinity Sunday - A Cycle - John 3:16-18

At Confirmation, the archbishop asked the children for a definition of the Holy Trinity. A girl answered very softly, "The Holy Trinity is three Persons in one God." The archbishop, who was almost deaf, replied, "I didn't understand what you said." And the young theologian before him replied, "You are not supposed to. The Trinity is a mystery."

With the Sign of the Cross, we trace the Trinity on ourselves. We bring God into our minds first. Then we bring the Trinity down to our hearts. And, with our hearts filled with compassion, we move the Trinity across our bodies to our shoulders and arms to better bear the burdens of our family and friends. (David Walker)

The Trinity feast goes back to 12th century England and St Thomas a Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. Historians say the great Thomas celebrated a Liturgy in honor of the Trinity in his cathedral. So was born the observance. In the 14th century, the feast came to be observed by the universal Church.

The belief in the Trinity goes back to the New Testament. There it is mentioned about forty times. Even if so wishing, we would not be able to lock the Trinity in a closet. The Trinity will not go away.

We open each Liturgy invoking the Trinity. We close it by calling upon those same Persons. Throughout the Christian world today, infants, who were quick enough to avoid abortion, will be received into our community through Baptism in the name of the Trinity. Into the arms of the mysterious Trinity, we will be sent by the officiating priest at our already scheduled funerals.

But the most wondrous thing in the world is the mysterious. (Albert Einstein) Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery. (Annie Dillard) The Trinity is the Mozart of mysteries. Not even Agatha Christie could solve it. Our world is filled with mysteries. We live with them very comfortably. Scientists estimate 90% of the cosmos is mystery.

For openers, who of us here understands himself? We are still trying to figure out how water rises from the earth through the trunk and finds its way out to the leaves of a tree? The why and how of homing pigeons still mystify us. How about the infamous common cold? Many "cures" notwithstanding, that mystery is not solved. (Joseph Donders)

The New York Times wonders whether we will ever understand how the brain works. (If the Times admits to ignorance, the subject has to be a mystery.) Why do good things happen to bad people? And of course why do bad things happen to good people? How about cancer? Had enough? Mystery and reality, wrote Walt Whitman, are two halves of the same sphere. What Isaac Newton opined in the 18th century is as true in the 21st. "What we know is a drop. What we don't know is an ocean." From the earliest days of the Christian era, geniuses have been wrestling with the Trinity. Most have struck out. Sometimes though, some get a Texas League single into short center field.

Rich material poured out of the busy and golden pen of the 5th century St Augustine. His conception of the Trinity is lyrical. The Father is the lover. The Son is the loved one. And the Holy Spirit is the love they send forth.

The 4th century St Patrick, with a brilliance that we Irish are justly celebrated for, found in the three leaf shamrock rising from the one stem an image of the Trinity. After telling this point to the Irish, they were never the same again. That is good or bad depending on your viewpoint of us Celts.

It is difficult for us to realize today, but questions such as the Trinity were debated in centuries past with the same intensity as we debate whether a current star is the best basketball player ever or whether a certain movie deserves an Oscar or whether Elvis is still alive. You can decide whether our civilization has progressed or regressed. But someone has cleverly noted that, unlike other Christian doctrines, the Trinity is not a truth that leads to action. But rather, like a painting by Monet or a poem by Keats or a symphony by Beethoven, it should point us to prayer or just wonderment. Perhaps it will help us to become the prayers we recite. (Joan Chittister)

Whoever can no longer wonder or no longer marvel is as good as dead. (Einstein) Our goal today is not to get us into the Trinity but to get the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit into us.
Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity: The Mystery of God

The celebration of the Trinity is the celebration of the deepest mystery of our faith. Mystery. What an overused word. We use the term to refer to everything that we do not comprehend from the deep knowledge of God to the way that the dryer gobbles up socks.

In the days before the Vatican Council the Church was so concerned that mystery be preserved that it cloaked the mysteries Jesus revealed to us in further, man-made mysteries. For example, even though Jesus spoke in the language of the people, most likely Aramaic, at the Last Supper, and even though the early Church celebrated the Lord's Supper in the language of the local people, particularly Latin in the Western Roman Empire and Greek in the Eastern Roman Empire, the Church further shrouded the mystery of the Lord's Supper by keeping the Mass in Latin long after people no longer spoke this language. And even though the mystery of the transformation of Bread and Wine into the Body and Blood of Christ was so deep that Peter complained that people were leaving Jesus because this was too hard for them to accept, the Church put a mystery around this mystery by hiding the Liturgy of the Eucharist behind the priest's body as the priest said Mass with his back to the people. When these man made mysteries were eliminated by the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, many people complained and some are still complaining that the mystery was being eliminated. This is incorrect. The mystery was more intense than ever because it was directly in front of us, not hidden from sight or proclaimed in a dead language.

Human beings need mystery. We need to be aware of that which is mysterious in life, truly mysterious. Husbands and wives who are truly in love, in a sacrificial love, the love of Christ, unite themselves in the mystery of each other. Yes, loving husbands and wives learn more about each other every day, but they also learn that there are those deep parts of their spouse whose existence only begins to be recognized after many years of deep love. Husbands delight in the mystery of her and wives delight in the mystery of him. They have been ushered into the intimacy of the person whom they love even though it is impossible to describe the essence of their husband or wife. This is the mystery of true love that you know experientially and that I can only contemplate. At the same time there is a mystery about priesthood that you cannot fathom and that I am growing into a little more every time I say yes to this call I received. What is this mystery?

You might think that it has to do with the administration of the sacraments or with the proclamation of scripture. It is true that priests hear confessions, refuse to dwell on what they heard and soon forget who said what--but this is natural, not mysterious. It is also true that priests work on a homily, make one little side comment and then listen to someone tell them how much that comment meant to them. This mysterious. Still the mystery of the priesthood is far deeper than this. The real mystery of the priesthood that I can only hint at because that is all that I can express is that the priest takes on Jesus and experiences his presence. Somehow or other, the priest touches on the life of Jesus, at Mass, in homilies, in the sacraments. He does not understand this. He can't pinpoint this, but the more he becomes aware of his participation in mystery the happier he becomes. This is the mystery of the sacrament of Orders. It is not possible for you to understand this any more than it is possible for me to understand your mystery, the deep mystery of marriage.

In the Trinity, God shares his deep mystery with us. The sharing is not in the recitation of the dogma. "There is one God in three persons, Father Son and Holy Spirit. The Father is God and the Son is God and the Spirit is God, yet there is only one God"? Dogmas are dependent on the language and concepts of the people who frame them. The recitation of the fifth century European definition of the Trinity does nothing for us. It is a statement, not a deep mystery. The true mystery of the Trinity is found not in dogma but in our experiencing the intimate life of God. The life of God, the intimacy of God cannot be stated. It can only be experienced.

Dom Bede Griffiths, the Wanderer and Searcher for God who devoted his life to uniting the totality of mankind's abilities, East and West, male and female, to come to a deeper experience of God, wrote: "Behind all the words and gestures, behind all thoughts and feelings, there is an inner center of prayer where we can meet one another in the presence of God. It is this inner center that is the real source of all life and activity and of all love. If we could learn to live from this center we should be living from the heart of life and our whole being would be moved by love. Here alone can all the conflicts of this life be resolved and we can experience a love which is beyond time and change", "Early in the morning Moses went up Mount Sinai as the Lord had commanded him, taking along the two stone tablets. Having come down in a cloud, the Lord stood with him there and proclaimed his name, "Lord." Thus the Lord passed before him and cried out, "The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity." Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship"? Moses opened himself up to the mystery of the Lord and experienced his presence on that mountain.

Many years later the prophet Elijah would climb the same mountain searching for an experience of God. He was told that the LORD will be passing by. He expected thunder and lightning and an awe inspiring display of God's power. Indeed there was " A strong and heavy wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD--but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake--but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire--but the LORD was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. And the Lord was there.â?? When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, "Elijah, why are you here?"

We can experience the mystery of God's life within us, the life of the Trinity we received at our baptism, but we must quiet ourselves down and expose ourselves to his presence as he is, not as we devise him. John Shea relates the wonderful story called the Legend of the Bells. There was a tradition that there was a tiny island located two miles out in the sea from the mainland. On this island there was a beautiful Temple with a thousand bells. There were big bells and small bells and every type of bell. When a huge wind blew through, all the bells would sing out and people on the shore would hear the bells as loudly as if they were on the island. Over the centuries, though, the island sank into the sea, and with it the Temple and its bells. But there was a tradition that anyone who listened attentively could hear the bells. Now a young man came to the coastal village to hear the bells. But he couldn't. He sat on the beach all day blocking out the sounds of the surf, just listening for the bells, but he could only hear those sounds that he was trying to reject. He spoke to the wise men and women of the village who told him that they heard the bells, but he didn't. After weeks of trying, he finally decided to give up. He went to his favorite spot on the beach on his last day to say goodbye to the sea and the sky and the sands and the coconut palms. He didn't try to shut out their sounds. He gave himself over to the sound, so much so that he sat barely conscious of himself. Then, in the depth of his silence, he heard it. He heard the tinkling of a tiny bell followed by another and another. Soon there were a thousand temple bells ringing in his ears and filling him with wonder and joy.

The story is a parable of the mystery of God. We don't step over or around creation to experience God. We enter into creation and find the divine as its inner radiance. We were made in the image and likeness of God. We received his life at our baptisms. The intimate life of God, the Trinity, exists in the core of our lives. We need to find time, make time, to seek out the mystery of God within us. We need to make time to pray every day. We need to make time to be with Him, every day. We need to make time to experience God. We need to experience God in the wonders of his creation and in the wonders of who we are.

The celebration of the Solemnity of the Trinity is an invitation to enter into the mystery of God.
Homily from Father Phil Bloom
* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
Life in Christ Week 9: Invitation (June 11, 2017)

Message: Do not be afraid to trust Jesus and invite others to faith.
At the Monroe prison one of the guards asked me, "Father, what's the verse for today?" It took me a moment to figure out he was asking for a Bible verse. Other were standing around and I felt put on the spot. Still, realizing I had a small audience, I decided to give my best try. "God so loved the world," I said, "that he gave his only son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life." It felt good to give a simple witness - and an invitation. Now, it wasn't an invitation to dinner or an outing, but something more important. As we celebrate Trinity Sunday, I'd like to break the invitation into parts:
First, God. For many people God is only a word, but let's look at the reality: God is the Being from who all being comes. The Fact on which every fact rests.

Second, his Son. God has a Son. Jesus revealed himself as God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God. Not made, but begotten, that is born - born not in time but in eternity. As we say in the Creed "consubstantial" with the Father. Same substance - like water and ice. Like a father and a son. God so loved the world he gave his only son.

Third: Belief. God gave his only Son that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life. Remember: eternal life is nothing more - and nothing less - than a relationship with Jesus. Belief means more than "oh, ya, I know that." Belief means trust. So important for us to say, "Jesus, I trust in you." When trials come, when darkness overwhelms, when - as sometimes happens - paralysis sets in, say, "Jesus, I trust in you." So three things: God, his Son, belief. Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid to trust Jesus - and to invite others to faith. About ten days ago Archbishop Sartain ordained a new bishop to serve in Western Washington. Our new auxiliary bishop - like Archbishop Sartain - comes from part of our country where people are more open about their faith - what Jesus has done for them. He reminded Bishop Mueggenborg what God said to St. Paul when he felt like pulling back. In a vision God said this: "Do not be afraid. Go on speaking and do not be silent for I am with you. No one will attack and harm you, for I have many people in this city." God has many people in this Valley. Do not be afraid to trust Jesus and invite others to faith. You and I want to do our part for Jesus' mission: "Go, make disciples of all nations baptizing them them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all I have commanded you." Or as we say in our parish mission statement: Lift up Jesus! Love one another! Make disciples!

We have one more week in our series Life in Christ. As we see today Life in Christ - that daily walk with Jesus - involves answering an invitation and inviting others. None of are here by accident. Jesus desires salvation for all, but he depends on you and me to make an invitation to life in him. Next week we see how Life in Christ has its high point in the Eucharist - the Body and Blood of Jesus. Today I ask you to hold this verse in your heart: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life." Amen.
Homily from Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe,Pa
Saint Vincent Archabbey
Trinity Sunday, Classic
John 3: 16-18

Gospel Summary
John tells us that he has written his gospel so that we may come to believe in Jesus, the Son of God, and thus have life in his name. To help us come to belief, John throughout his gospel talks about people like us -- some who believe, some who half-believe, some who refuse to believe. The context of this gospel passage is the story of Nicodemus. Nicodemus comes to Jesus "at night" and represents those of us who hold back, and thus never completely leave the darkness to enter the light and love of eternal life.

The first sentence of the passage summarizes not only our Trinity Sunday gospel, but John's entire gospel about the meaning of Jesus and the meaning of our human existence: "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.? Life Implications The feast of the Holy Trinity reminds us that every Sunday's gospel helps unfold the mystery of divine life: in each gospel Jesus makes the Father's truth and love present in the world through the power of the Holy Spirit. Every Sunday's Eucharist is the prayer of the church in living communion with the Risen Lord praising the Father through the power of the Spirit. Every good work we do is to share in Christ's mission of making the Father's truth and love present in the world because we share Christ's Spirit. And we experience even now in faith some fulfillment of our human existence through the peace and joy of living in the communion of divine love with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The gospel of Trinity Sunday further reminds us of the constant reality which Jesus addresses in every gospel of the church year. That reality is the "world" which God loves so much as to give it his only Son. We are that world human beings tragically alienated from God, alienated from each other, alienated from our own deepest personal identity as children of God. This is the world described in the first chapters of Genesis, in every evening's TV news, in our own experience of life. Particularly this year when many in our world seem to prefer darkness to light, we need to celebrate the feast of the Holy Trinity with prayer of steadfast hope. God still does love the world. And we can still come out of its dark night to accept his only Son, whom he has given to us so that we might have life in him. Only in his light and in his life can we enjoy peace among ourselves and within ourselves, a peace that surpasses human understanding.
Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Modern
Gospel: John 3; 16 - 18

We just completed ninety days of Lent and Easter in which we recalled and entered into more deeply the Paschal Mystery. We begin this first week of Ordinary Time by celebrating the Most Holy Trinity we focus' on one God, and three persons. It is in many ways a summary of what we heard and reflected on during Lent and Easter. The Gospel for today is brief and to the point. It comes from the third chapter of St. John and tells us of God's love for us. This sets the tone for all that would be written in this Gospel. The reason Jesus is born into the world is because of the Father's love for us, the purpose for Jesus being born into the world is so that we would be saved by him. The birth of Jesus, his ministry, suffering, death and resurrection were all an act of God's love for us. We celebrated its' completion las week on Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came to be with the church and each one of us.

The mystery of the trinity has been written about for two millennia, but it is a mystery and can never be fully understood. In celebrating the Feast of the Holy Trinity it is a day for us not to get bogged down with trying to wrap our minds around an unsolvable mystery, rather let us allow the mystery of God to wrap himself around our hearts and souls and fill us with a deeper experience and appreciation of God.

Through Baptism we are all united with God and one another. The mystery of the Triune God fills us with the Love of the Father, the Peace of Christ, and the unity of the Holy Spirit. We are united with God who draws us into His family, he is the loving Father, he is the Son, our Brother, who brings us Peace, and the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us. We first experienced the Trinity at the moment of our conception when God breathed into the act of love of our parents' life and soul. God has been with us from that moment and remains with us forever. At Baptism we were Baptized in the name of, The Father, and of The Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and became a member of God's Family. We went on to receive Jesus in Holy Communion, and the Holy Spirit at Confirmation. These were all major occasions in our lives that involved beautiful ceremonies in a church, and usually some sort of party afterwards. They are important and worthy of a celebration.

In addition to these celebrations there are the times we encounter the Trinity in other ways. It could be the silent prayers at home while praying for some particular situation. It could be at some retreat or spiritual gathering were the words of someone, a song, or a prayer, struck the heart with the reassurance that God is with us. It could be the unexpected encounter with someone in need, whether it be a kind word and encouragement, or a simple ride somewhere, or even a loan, that we realize that we just helped Jesus. During Advent we hear the word Immanuel, which means God is with us. God is with us, not only during Advent and Christmas but every day of our lives. The Trinity is itself a mystery that we will never solve, and it is also a mystery how God can be so attentive to us at every moment of our lives. But God is Trinity of persons who is always with us. The mystery of the Holy Trinity is a to behold with awe and to celebrate with joy.

Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.
Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
Trinity Sunday
Homily by Father Alex McAllister SDS

Having come to the end of our Easter celebrations we are now invited by the Church to reflect on the mystery of God himself as we celebrate today the feast we know as Trinity Sunday.

It is good for us to reflect on the mystery of the Godhead from time to time. According to me it is actually vital for us Christians to come to a clear understanding of what God is in himself because our doctrine of the Holy Trinity is generally not well understood. In fact, members of many other religions find our particular set of beliefs about the nature of God quite incomprehensible. Indeed, we might add that even some Catholics are not fully conversant with the faith of the Church when it comes to this point.

We must start by saying that Christianity is essentially a monotheistic religion. This means that, in common with Jews and Moslems, we believe in only one God. However, our faith takes us one step further than this and states that this one God is made up of three distinct persons.

While there is no definitive statement about the make-up of the Trinity to be found in the pages of the New Testament, it is absolutely littered with references referring to both the Father and to the Spirit and on many occasions Jesus himself makes it very clear that he is completely one with the Father.

From the very earliest times in the Church it has been understood that while there is only one indivisible God, he is actually made up of a Trinity of persons. While the three persons of the Trinity are distinct they share one substance or, as it is also called, one nature. So, although the New Testament doesn't give us a precise definition of the doctrine of the Trinity it does contain all that we need to know to come to a clear understanding of the nature of God. The most important thing that the persons of the Trinity share is love and it is this overwhelming love they have for each other that overflows and brings about the creation of the universe and all that it contains. We could therefore say that the act of creation and, in particular, the creation of mankind is an act of love.

This is important because it provides us with the vital clue we need to understand ourselves. We need to know that we were created in love and to come to the fulness of love is our true destiny.

Of course, our inclination to sin means that we constantly drift away from loving God but the corollary to this is that when we actually do choose to love God we must be doing so as the result of a direct act of our will and not out of any compulsion whatsoever. Therefore, when we express our love for God it can only be a completely genuine and totally free act, even if we frequently lapse from it.

This is one of the beautiful mysteries that lies at the heart of creation. God gives us our free will so that we might love him as the result of our own free choice and therefore completely in accord with the true nature of love.

The key to the Trinity is to understand that the three persons who make it up totally love each other and are completely involved in each other's actions. While we principally see the Father as creator, both the Son and the Spirit are involved in creation. While the Son is our redeemer, both the Father and the Spirit are intimately involved with the work of our salvation. So, although each of the persons is completely unique they are each deeply involved in what the others are doing.

This provides us with a pattern to follow. We too, like them, need to be deeply involved in what those whom we love are doing. We too need to be supporting each other and assisting our loved ones in all that they do. We too need to accompany each other in all our actions at the deepest possible level of intimacy.

The other thing we need to learn from the Trinity is that it is not a closed circle. Their love for each other is not an end in itself, it flows out from them into the creation of the universe. It should be the same with us. The fact that a husband and wife love each other deeply finds its true expression in the bringing to birth of children. But their love for each other leads to more than just the creation of a family it results in the creation of a wider circle of friends and brings into being a whole community of love.

I recently saw a programme on TV about astronomy and watching it helped me to come to a greater appreciation of the extraordinary vastness of the universe. I began to realise that the galaxies are in fact without number and that the universe seems to extend infinitely, certainly far further than it is possible for mankind ever to be able to detect.

Realising that the universe is so huge ought to help us to come to an appreciation of the vastness of the love generated within the Trinity.

We are largely locked within the boundaries of our own world and our own perceptions. We tend to simply see and appreciate only that which is around us. Even as human beings we do not find it easy to comprehend the nature of our own being. We find it hard to come to terms with the meaning of death and we often fail to understand the true purpose of much of what we do.

Because of these reasons it is extremely difficult for us to appreciate the nature of God. When we think about God we mostly find that our experience seems to be formed of his absence. We cannot touch him and we don't feel we are able to know him in any meaningful way. God often feels distant and involved in our lives.

And yet we Christians believe in his presence. We talk to him every single day. We know that he is near to us. We realise that he is closer to us than we even are to ourselves.

I once read some words of Cardinal Hume, although I can't recall exactly where I found them; they were something along the lines that there is a reverent agnosticism at the heart of true belief in God. What I think Cardinal Hume meant was that we cannot ever truly know God. There always has to be something that is not fully understood or completely known about God. Because we are not divine ourselves we cannot in this world ever come to an adequate understanding or true appreciation of God.

And while this is surely true we should not end up feeling that this leaves us lacking something essential. Taking into account this unknowing, what I believe we are left with is what can only be termed wonder. One definition of wonder that I looked up stated that it was ?a feeling of amazement and admiration, caused by something beautiful, remarkable, or unfamiliar.'

We may never be able to understand God but we certainly can be amazed by him, we can admire his works and without a doubt we can come to the realisation that he is undoubtedly beautiful, remarkable and unfamiliar.

This to me is that true starting point of all real prayer and contemplation.
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