27 May 2018Most Holy Trinity

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
Most Holy Trinity

Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
Most Holy Trinity
The Solemnity of the Holy Trinity: An Invitation into Intimacy

Throughout the year, our parish receives inquiries from people who feel attracted to the Catholic faith. Some of these people have never been baptized into any faith. Others have been baptized. Now when people who have been baptized decide to take the step from inquiring into Catholicism to become members of our faith, we ask them to obtain a copy of their baptismal certificate. We do this for two reasons. The first reason is to be sure that they were in fact baptized. What can happen at times is that people might have grown up in a family that attended church rather infrequently. They may have been told by their parents that they were baptized, but when they have to obtain a certificate, their parents might then realized that an older brother or sister was baptized, but this particular child wasn't. The second reason that we need to see a copy of the Christians baptismal certificate is to be sure that he or she was baptized into the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Name of the Trinity.

Jesus was quite clear into today's Gospel and throughout the Scriptures that we are to baptize others in the Name of the Trinity, not just in His Name. Why? When a person is baptized into the Name of the Trinity, that person is brought into the intimate Life of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We celebrate the intimate life of God today. We celebrate the mystery of the infinite community of Father, Son and Holy Spirit and the eternal unity of God. We celebrate today the gift that we received at our baptism. Through baptism, we have been brought into the intimate life of God, the community of the Blessed Trinity. God's life flowed into us at our baptism. This life was not ours to hoard. God gave us the mandate to be his instruments on earth. He called us to lead others to accept intimacy into the Divine Community: "Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit." Jesus commands all his disciples, including us, to provide the Life of the Trinity to all who will accept his Good News, His Gospel. "Baptize in the Name of the Trinity. Extend your relationship with God to others." To do this we have to teach others all that Jesus has taught us. We are to continue the work of Jesus. Let's put ourselves on the hill in today's Gospel. We are there, basking in the love and joy of our Risen Savior. And then Jesus says to each of us, "I'm going now, but you, you take my place." "What?" we ask. "How can I take your place? What should I say to people?"

"Just teach people everything I have taught you. That'll work just fine," Jesus responds.
"But, Lord," we protest. "How can we do that. How can we be you for others?"
"Just do what I have told you," Jesus says, and know something, you won't be doing it alone. I am with you always until the end of the time."
And so we have become part of a great force, a great army. We join God, Infinite Goodness, in waging war against evil. We are fighting for the victory of good. Our goal is nothing less than the complete transformation of the world from a place of selfishness and hatred into a haven of giving and love. We are called to confront evil with good, kindness and generosity. It is not enough for us to make the world a better place.

We have to make the world God's place. How are we to do this? Well, we simply call upon God to be present in our lives, and God does the rest. In today's Gospel Jesus doesn't leave the disciples or us alone. No, he tells us that He will be with us always. Our lives are immersed in the battle for God's Kingdom. We are involved in one of these skirmishes every time we make a decision that puts God first. But the war is not easy. The enemy is devious. We need strength to fight for God, to win for Him. Often when we make a decision for the Lord, we are ostracized from the society that has rejected Him, or at least, put His Presence on hold until a more convenient time. For example, we make a decision that we will not get drunk, we will not take drugs, we will not engage in immoral sex.

Then we are treated by people we love or at least want to be friends with as though we are religious fanatics. We pray regularly, every day and as a community on Sundays, and we are treated as though we are some sort of a religious fanatics. There are times that it seems as though everyone is against us. But everyone is not against us. Jesus is with us. He and any one of us make a majority. "Look at the Life I have given you," the Lord says today. "It is my life, the Divine Life of the Trinity. Give this Life to others. Proclaim my Gospel with your lives. And know that I will be with you through every situation, every choice, every rejection, every success." The Kingdom of God is flourishing throughout the world. We are the Kingdom.

Homily from Father Phil Bloom
* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
Most Holy Trinity
(May 27, 2018)

Bottom line: We discover our roots in the Trinity and connect with those glorious persons by baptism, by faith and by following what Jesus teaches.
Last week we compared the Holy Spirit to a rhizome: a continuously growing underground stem that sends up shoots at different points. You can see the rhizome at work if you visit Bambooland - between Monroe and Sultan. Those groves of bamboo are not independent plants; rather they together depend on the unseen stem. Likewise as Christians we depend on the Holy Spirit. Our gifts of service, the ministries we exercise and the sacraments that sustain us are like shoots coming from him. Through him we Christians are connected one to another. We have our roots in him. This Sunday we take the idea of roots a step further. The Bible reveals our roots as the Trinity itself. Moses says that God speaks "from the midst of fire". This refers to the burning bush but it also applies to creation. In the beginning the Spirit broods over the deep and God the Creator speaks a word: Let there be light. This verse has an intriguing parallel in the Big Bang theory that says the universe began with an explosion of energy - fire.* You may have heard that the father of the Big Bang theory was a Catholic priest - Fr. Georges LeMaitre. He didn't set out with the idea of proving God's existence. Still, before him most scientists - including Albert Einstein - thought the universe existed eternally. LeMaitre's theory indicates that time, space and matter do not eternally exist but had a starting point - about 14 billion years ago.

That is a long time, but for God no time at all. For him the big bang is just as much "now" as is today or for that matter tomorrow. For us who live in time our existence connects back to that initial burst of light - and to God himself. Now I'm not here to promote the Big Bang theory. Yet many aspects do fit with our faith. Fr Robert Spitzer, himself a Jesuit priest like Fr. LeMaitre has some powerful videos on that subject - the relation of faith and physics. What ultimately matters is not a scientific theory but what the Bible tells us about our origins. We are rooted in the Trinity: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Father speaks an eternal Word; he begets his only Son Jesus who is God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God. The love between Father and Son is a third distinct person: the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and Son. He is the Lord and Giver of Life. From the dynamism of the Holy Trinity comes our existence.

A few years ago my brother did a DNA Ancestry Test. It was interesting to see the batch of different gene pools that we came out of. Those roots go way back and show that we are interconnected even on a genetic level. Some scientists say you only have to go back a couple thousand years to find a common ancestor for all humans alive today and of course going further we have many common ancestors. We are all mutts. For sure heritage and culture matter but genetically we are mongrels. There is no pure race, only the human race. The great thing about America is that we do not say blood binds us. What binds us is our creed. We'll hear more about that during Fourth of July week. We want our children to love America with all her faults.** But even more we want them to understand how our roots go back to Adam and Eve. Through our first parents we receive the image of God - the basis for equality among us.

Along with that great good we inherit something bad - a primeval stain that distorts God's image, a shame that separates us from God and each other, an arrogance that make us reject our true roots. So our task is to rediscover our true roots - the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus enables us reconnect to our roots: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." We discover our roots in the Trinity and connect with those glorious persons by baptism, by faith and by following what Jesus teaches. Next Sunday we will see a vital, recurring element in this new life. What the Vatican Council calls "the Source and Summit." Today let's rejoice that we have received through Jesus the Spirit of Adoption who enables us to say, "Abba, Father."

********** *Here's an Encyclopedia Britannica article to make your head spin (at least mine)
**"The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults." (Alexis de Tocqueville)

Homily from Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Pa
Saint Vincent Archabbey
Most Holy Trinity
Trinity Sunday, Classic
Matthew 28: 16:20

Gospel Summary
This carefully crafted passage is the climactic summary of the essential themes of Matthew's gospel. Jesus, now Risen Lord, reveals that all power in heaven and on earth has been given to him, and thus he has authority to commission his disciples to continue and to extend his mission to all the nations of the earth. Jesus' epiphany and commission to the eleven take place on a mountain, the symbolic place where humans encounter the divine presence. The mountains of encounter unite in a single narrative the biblical covenants, and make all history a sacred history. These awesome places of the divine presence evoke the memory of crucial turning points of human history: Ararat, Moriah, Sinai, Zion, Carmel. Matthew, fully in harmony with this tradition, brings the narrative of the divine plan to its climax. He tells of Jesus' trial of temptations, his sermon, and his transfiguration on a mountain.

From the severe testing of faith on the Mount of Olives, Jesus descends to suffer and die in obedience to his Father's will. Now on a mountain, Jesus with divine authority commissions the eleven to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. God's promise to Abraham after the testing of faith on Mount Moriah will at last be fulfilled. Through Jesus, son of Abraham, "all the nations of the earth will find blessing" (Genesis 22: 1:18). All nations will hear the good news, and be taught to observe what the Lord has commanded. Matthew concludes his gospel and begins the era of the church with the promise of Jesus: "And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."

Life Implications The good news we hear proclaimed on Trinity Sunday is that Jesus the Risen Lord wants us to share divine life with him in the oneness of intimate, familial love with his Father and Holy Spirit. Through the gift of baptism we belong to God, and God belongs to us. With Jesus we can say Our Father. We are at home in God. To be certain that we do not imagine the era of the church to be an illusory Utopia above the ambiguities of the human condition, Matthew interjects a surprising note of realism. He tells us that though the eleven disciples recognize Jesus as Risen Lord and worship him, at the same time they doubt. He uses the same Greek verb for "doubt" as he did when Jesus stretched out his hand to Peter, frightened and sinking in the stormy water: "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Matthew 14: 22:33) A theme of Matthew's gospel is the contrast between the total, single-minded faith of Jesus and the double-minded, little faith of his disciples. Jesus tells the disciples that because of their little faith they do not understand him, and for the same reason they are unable to cast out a demon (Matthew 16: 8 and 17: 20).

The disciples, except for one of the original Twelve, are willing to follow Jesus and listen to his commands; but at the same time their "common sense" tells them that what Jesus expects is way beyond their capacity to accomplish. It is not difficult for us present-day disciples to identify with the feeling of inadequacy and doubt in the face of the powerful forces that oppose the fulfillment of the divine promise of blessedness in our own circumstances. Like the first disciples, we worship the Risen Lord; and we doubt. Yet we go on because we trust with our little faith that all power in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus. The Risen Lord, who conquered even death, is with us as he promised. When we do not understand what is going on, when the demons in us and around us seem invincible, when we begin to sink in the stormy water, when the task at hand seems too much for us, Jesus stretches out his hand and says: "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" With our little faith, we can only respond: "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief."
Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B.

Trinity Sunday, Modern
Sunday, May 27, 2018
Lectionary 165

Today is Trinity Sunday, the first Sunday following both Pentecost and the entire Easter season. Through the fifty days of Easter culminating with Pentecost we rejoice in the resurrection of Christ from the dead, the foundational event of Christian faith and the source of all authentic Christian hope. As that Easter season approached its crescendo in the days of the feasts of the Ascension and Pentecost we heard a clear and consistent theme in both the scripture readings at mass and in the prayers said at mass that directs us to take up the mission of sharing with the whole world the Trinitarian faith we treasure as believers in the risen Lord. Now that we pass into the long season of the Church year that is called "ordinary time" a somewhat unfortunate name we are urged once more by the readings to commit ourselves to the mission theme announced at the Ascension and Pentecost, and a Trinitarian catechesis launches us on our way.

The first reading today comes from Deuteronomy, and it extolls God for creating the world and all that is in it, for revealing himself to the people of Israel, and for leading them forth in triumph from their slavery in Egypt. Deuteronomy reflects at length on God's loving words and deeds as they were made know to Israel, and in one of its most profound passages teaches that there is One God only (Deut 6:4-5). This is a touchstone of both Judaism and Christianity, and for Catholics it is a critical point to recall on Trinity Sunday: we do not worship three "Gods" Father, Son, and Holy Spirit but rather one God, revealed to us as the three Persons of the Holy Trinity. Having learned that there is only one true God, the Psalms then teach us to call out to God not as some sort of abstract entity, but as One who genuinely loves us: "See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him, upon those who hope for his kindness, To deliver them from death and preserve them in spite of famine" (Ps 33:18-19). Next, in today's excerpt from the Letter to the Romans, Saint Paul teaches us that "we are children of God" and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ" witnessed to by the very Spirit of God (Rom 8:16-17). Thus we are affirmed in our faith that the one true God reveals himself to us as Father, Son, and Spirit, whom we normally call the Holy Spirit and that we are considered by God to be his children, adopted in Christ the Son.

So then we rejoice in our adopted sonship or daughterhood and set out to live in the light of this joyous mystery. To do that, we return to the theme that ran strongly through the readings for the last two Sundays, that of mission. In the Gospel reading for Trinity Sunday Saint Matthew tells us: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age" (Matt 28:19). Strengthened by the love of God which is made visible to us in the risen Christ, let us resolve to enter into the long summertime of the Church year, living as though we truly believe that which we profess each week in the Creed, and thus helping to make the Good News of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit come alive both in our own homes and neighborhoods and to the ends of the earth.
Father Edward Mazich, O.S.B.

Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
Most Holy Trinity
Trinity Sunday

Last week was Pentecost Sunday, the birthday of the Church, one of the most important feasts in the Church year. We are the Church and Pentecost was our feast. Now as the first thing we are invited to look at as we move forward is the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Don't think of the Trinity as something complex or beyond understanding. It is simple. And it is our example. Three persons in one God, each with a different role, each in communion with the other. A family of persons, where there is complete harmony, love and total peace. A wonderful community of love. A true example for us to follow. The mutual self-giving love that is present within the Trinity overflows into creation itself. The persons of the Trinity love each other so much that this is the very cause of creation. There is so much love that it is almost necessary for creation to have been made in order to soak some of it up. The mystery of the Trinity is at the very heart of the Spiritual Life. It is the summit and source of that yearning that causes us to enter on this journey of faith. When we talk of the Trinity we are talking about how God is in himself.

But the great mystics and men and women over the ages who are steeped in prayer tell us that we cannot speak about God until we learn to speak to him. We are only God's acolytes, responding to the initiative he first made to us. For it is indeed true that each one of us has had a religious experience; each one of us has experienced God's intervention in our life in some shape or form. If we did not we would not be here. He has taken the initiative; of course this may be mediated through all sorts of other agencies, through the example of our parents, through illness, through accidents, through sudden flashes of insight. Whichever way this has come, it has made us realise that God loves us and wants us to be with him. He draws us to himself. He draws us into the mystery of himself; into the mystery of the Holy Trinity. A few years ago I was in hospital at the bed of a dying man; he was a neighbour I knew fairly well. He was effectively an atheist and had known he was dying for about a month. I got a message from his wife to say that he had asked to see me. We spoke about the difficulty he had in believing in God.

He thought that there must be a God but he felt that all the different religions got in the way. I didn't agree with him, but it is a commonly held view. That was a few weeks before he went into hospital. But while he was dying, I stayed with him and his family for quite some time and before I left I asked him if he would like me to say the prayers for the dying. As soon as I started I was amazed because he suddenly started to gush forth in deep and profound prayer. This was a man who had not said a prayer since he was eight years old. He spoke loudly and directly to God saying he really did believe in him and asked forgiveness for all his doubts and for the many sins he had committed over the years. He said that he was ready to die and asked Jesus to welcome him.

He said all these things and much more in the same vein. Accordng to me because he had not prayed for fifty years there was a tremendous build-up of prayer and at that moment within a few hours of his death the dam broke and he just poured out a great quantity of prayer. It was a most moving experience I can tell you. There were tears in my eyes as I listened to his words. This was a powerful intervention of God in his life. And it had a profound effect on me and the members of his family gathered around. We cannot speak about God till we learn speak to him. And this is what God wants us to do; to communicate with him. After all, this is what we will be doing in heaven; communicating with God; communing with him; loving him; praising him. And there is no better preparation for heaven than spending time in prayer here and now. We can become preoccupied with so many things, we think that there is so much to do, so much to learn, so much to get on with in the present moment that we tend to push prayer to the sidelines. Yet prayer is probably the most important activity we could ever engage in.

Profound though that experience was with that dying man pouring out a great fountain of prayer when he had never prayed for fifty years, we realise that it is not advisable to leave things that long. Prayer is something we need to do each day, prayer needs to be an essential part of our lives, prayer needs to be the bedrock on which everything else is constructed. And we need to learn to pray in our youth; when we are eight, nine and ten we need to become aware of just how close God is to us and to enter on a journey of faith with him. This will lead us through the difficulties and temptations of the teenage years and help us to negotiate the beginning of our adult life. Prayer is therefore an essential part of our life, without prayer we see God as a stranger; without prayer we become strangers to ourselves and we become unhappy with our lot in life. All this is because without prayer we have become disconnected from the very source of our being. There is no doubt about it prayer is the key to life; prayer is the key to the Trinity; prayer is the key to heaven; prayer is as important to us as the very air we breathe.

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