30 May 2021Most Holy Trinity

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
Most Holy Trinity

Trinity Sunday - Cycle B - Matthew 28:16-20

A couple received by mail two tickets for a first class New York City Broadway show. They did not understand who sent them, but they thankfully went. They returned home and found their home stripped of cash, paintings, and jewels. On their table, they found a note which read, "NOW YOU UNDERSTAND." We will never receive a similar note about the Trinity.

The roots of today's solemn feast can be traced back to the early Church. Today we can say with my ancestor, the peerless St Patrick, "I arise today, through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through belief in the threeness, through confession of the oneness of the Creator of Creation."

The story is told of a priest sitting in an airport waiting for his flight. A fellow killing time struck up a conversation. Said he, "Father, I believe only what I can understand. So, I can't buy your Trinity. Perhaps you can explain it to me." The priest reluctantly put down The New York Times. "Do you see the sun out there?" "Yup." "OK, it's 80 million miles away from us right now. The rays coming through the window," said the priest, "are coming from the sun. The delightful heat we are enjoying on our bodies right now come from a combination of the sun and its rays. Do you understand that?" The fellow answered, "Sure, padre." "The Trinity," the priest went on, "is like that. God the Father is that blazing sun. The Son is the rays He sends down to

  1. Then both combine to send us the Holy Spirit who is the heat. If you understand the workings of the sun, its rays, and heat, why do you have difficulty believing the Trinity?" The man said something about catching a flight and was off.

The priest, a physics professor, picked up the Times with a broad smile. He doubted whether his recent guest understood the workings of the sun. He knew no one would ever comprehend the mystery of the Trinity this side of the grave. After all, why does God have to tell us everything? In his experience, He tells us only on a need to know basis.

His favorite line from the Book of Job popped into his mind. "Can anyone penetrate the deep designs of God?" (11:7) As a scientist and a Catholic, he knew the answer to that question.

Try to understand the Trinity and you become like a person staring, as someone said, into the noonday sun to better understand it. All you get is a serious headache requiring extra strength Tylenol and a resolve to buy good sunglasses.

Finally he put down the Times and recalled fondly his late Dogma professor in the seminary. When he came to the section on the Trinity in the textbook, he turned the pages quickly. The Dogma prof said, "Professor Thomas Aquinas, late of the University of Paris and the Albert Einstein of his day, didn't understand the Trinity. So, it is most unlikely that you blockheads will either. Just remember St Paul mentions the Trinity 30 times in his letters. Take it on faith and you'll muddle through somehow." He trusted that the professor and Thomas both now understood the Trinity perfectly.

He himself never had difficulty buying into a God who is passionately in love with us, a Son who was willing to die for us, and a Holy Spirit whose job it is to help us become saints like Thomas of Aquin and Paris.

He recalled the husband, who said when he became a father, he better understood the Trinity. When he and his wife had their son, they had evidence of their love for each other. There was the lover, the beloved, and the love, each distinct and yet one.

I enjoy the playful description of Daniel Durken of the Trinity. The Father played creator and was overjoyed that the world turned out so attractively. The Son played redeemer and put everything right again in the wounded world by stretching

out His arms on a cross. The Spirit played sanctifier. He made room in the heart of each of us for the Trinity. "Today," says Durken, "the Trinity invites us to keep playing with them this delightful game of life and love." And why not? We have nothing to lose but our chains.

Dante Alighieri expressed his thoughts on the triune God in verse. His Italian runs off the lips like music: "O trina luce, che in unica stella..." And, for the benefit only of the very young children reading these lines I translate, "O triune light, which in a single star contents all upon whom it shineth..."

Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
Most Holy Trinity

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity: Being True to Our Real Name

In 1939 the poet T. S. Elliot wrote a book of poems called the Old Possums Book of Practical Cats. His poems were taken word for word and transformed by Andrew Lloyd Weber into a musical play which first appeared in London, then became a hit in New York, where it ran for nineteen years. You are probably familiar with the musical: Cats.

In his poems, T.S. Elliot says that all cats have three names. The first name is the name that the people the cat lives with give it. You will notice I did not say the people who own the cat. No one ever owns a cat, they just find a way to live with the cat the best they can. Anyway, the guests in the cat's home give the cat a name Like Fluffy or Bitsy or Garfield. According to T.S. Elliott, the cat has a name that other cats know. The cat might be called by the others, McCavity the thieving cat, or Mephistopholes, the magical cat, or Old Deuteronomy, the wise old cat. But, Elliott says, the cat also has a third name. This is a secret name that reflects all that the cat really is. In the poetry, the cat spends all his life contemplating his real name before God.

  1. S. Elliott was not writing about cats.He was writing about people. In some ways we all can be thought of as having three names. There is the formal name we receive from our parents. There is the name our friends use. And then, there is that special name which we receive from God that reflects who we really are. For example, I have a formal name, Monsignor Joseph A. Pellegrino. My second name is the one my friends call me, Fr. Joe, or Msgr, Joe or Mojo. I have another name, a third name, that I do not thoroughly know. That is the name that states who I am in my relationship with God. I received this name from God at my baptism. It expresses my deepest intimacy with God. This name states in a simple voice the unique reflection of God I was created to bring to the world. I was given this name at my baptism. I don’t thoroughly know this name. I will have to spend the rest of my life coming to a deeper and deeper knowledge of who I am before God. I will have to spend the rest of my life learning what my name is. You also have three names. The first is your formal name. The second is the one that those who know you use. The third is the name that proclaims to the world your unique relationship with God.

On Trinity Sunday we consider the name of God, Father Son and Spirit. This is more than a theological dogma about God. It is also a doctrine about us. It is an expression of who we are. We are baptized in the name of God. The goal of our lives is to find the particular, unique expression of God's love that we have been empowered to make present in the world. The goal of our lives is to reveal our most profound name.

All who are baptized in the name of the Trinity are called to the Father in Christ though the Holy Spirit. We are called to the Father. The journey of our lives is a journey to God. This journey may follow the paths of marriage and parenthood, as many of you have taken. This journey may follow the path of the committed single Christian. The path might be that of religious life or holy orders. All journeys derive their meaning from their final destination. The journey of our lives is full of minor chores and major events. Even our routine chores derive their meaning from their final destination. Changing your baby's diaper, telling your child for the hundredth time to clean up his or her room, putting up with your spouse's moods, giving up going out with your friends so you can spend some extra time as a big brother or big sister, going to work and all that entails, going to school and completing all its tasks, all take their meaning as part of our journey to the Father.

We are called to the Father in Christ. Jesus Christ is the Word of God Become Flesh. Our Christmas celebration is a celebration of His Presence not just among us but as one of us. He teaches us who the Father is and how we can best serve Him. Jesus teaches us with His life what love really is. Love, true love, is sacrificial, even to death on a cross. When we journey to the Father through Jesus, we are united to the Tremendous Lover in His eternal sacrifice of himself to the Father. The greatest steps we take in our journey to God are the steps we take away from our own selfishness. Christian is our name and our claim. We seek God not through the loss of personality like so many cults, or through attaining a clear state of consciousness like Scientology, or even through a loss of all thoughts. We don't look for God in some sort of inner energy. We seek God through sacrificial love. We are called to the Father through Jesus Christ, the Tremendous Lover.

We are called to the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. We are given the power and the grace to love as God loves so others might experience the presence of God working in us. We are the vehicles of the Holy Spirit. Our journey to God is not merely a matter of our individual relationship with God. We journey to God so that others might join us in the journey that gives meaning to life. We journey to God so others can see Him in us and also be led to His presence.

The intimate name we have received is the name that best reflects our unique sharing in the Blessed Trinity. Baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we are called to allow our lives to have meaning by being faithful to our name. A hundred years from now, a thousand years from now, ten thousand years from now, our participation in all the petty wants and desires and ambitions the world has decreed are the marks of a successful person will be forgotten. No one will recall if we owned a Rolls and a yacht, or a Hyundai and a canoe. But a hundred years from now, a thousand years from now, ten thousand years from now, the world will still enjoy the impact of our lives if we have illuminated the world with our own unique reflection of God. The world will be a better place if we make the journey, approaching the Father through the Son with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Homily from Father Phil Bloom
* 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!"

Homily from Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Pa
Saint Vincent Archabbey
Most Holy Trinity

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