* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
Most Holy Trinity
Calling God by His Right Name
(May 30, 2021)
Bottom line: When we choose God - calling him by his right name: Father, Son and Holy Spirit - it brings peace and freedom.
Last Sunday we concluded the fifty days of Easter with Pentecost Sunday - Feast of the Holy Spirit. This Sunday we stand before the mystery of God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I'd like to approach this mystery with a humorous story. It's about a man who slips at the edge of cliff but, on the way down, he somehow grabs a branch. He begins to shout for help.
A voice from above responds, "I will rescue you."
"Oh, thank God," he says, "Who are you?"
"Just what you say. I am God and I will rescue you, but you must do exactly what I tell you."
"Anything," the man says.
The voice says, "Let go and I will catch you."
The man looks down, a hundred feet below he sees the bottom. He looks up again and asks, "Is anybody else there?"
Well, we have the answer in today's first reading:
you must now know,
and fix in your heart, that the LORD is God
in the heavens above and on earth below,
and that there is no other.
There is no other. We can try to substitute something else for God. We can try to eat our cake and have it too. It won't work. C.S. wrote this:
"All that we call human history--money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery--[is] the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy."
We humans naturally turn away from God. We prefer to go our own way and that leads to misery. Fortunately God did not leave us on our own. He entered human history: First, by forming a people - the Jewish people, then by sending his Son.
It was not easy for God since he created free and he respects our freedom. Since January I've been listening to the Bible in a Year podcast by Fr. Mike Schmitz. He reads consecutive sections of the Bible, says a prayer and makes short comments. At about day 150, what strikes me is that the Bible tells this story: on one hand, human infidelity and on the other hand, God's fidelity. In today's Gospel we see the climax of this story. Jesus, put to death by sinful men, rises from the dead. Right before he ascends to heaven, he instructs his followers:
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,
Now, there's a lot I could say about this verse. The Archdiocese of Seattle is promulgating a pastoral plan based on Jesus' Great Commission. Rather than going into details, I'd like to highlight the importance of "name".
Once in the while, I flub a name. For example, at a wedding calling the bride Jennifer instead of Jessica. Believe me, the groom corrected me. Gotta get the name right.
Same with God. We have to get his name right. We baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. That's God's true name: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. To have a relationship with someone, you have to know their correct name. If I keep calling someone "Bob" instead of "Bill", at best he might be amused, but really we couldn't have much of a relationship. To know someone's name is the first step.
Now, human relationships can grow or weaken. Something similar applies with God. Even though God always remains faithful, we can become unfaithful. When we choose something else in place of God, we fall into sadness, even slavery. But when we choose God - the true God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit - it brings peace and freedom. St. Paul sums it up this way:
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you received a Spirit of adoption,
through whom we cry, "Abba, Father!"