16 June 2019Most Holy Trinity

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
Most Holy Trinity
Trinity Sunday - Cycle C
John 16, 12-15

A story has it that the fifth century Augustine of Hippo was taking his summer holiday along the North African seashore. Walking along the water's edge on a delightful day, he was pondering the mystery of the Trinity. All this genius was getting for his efforts was a severe headache. Finally he thought he was coming close to breaking the code of the mystery. He was about to shout, "Eureka!" Suddenly at his feet was a boy of five The bishop asked him what he was doing. The youngster replied, "I am pouring the whole ocean into this small hole." Augustine said, "That's nonsense. No one can do that." Unintimidated by the towering giant above him, the child replied, "Well, neither can you, Bishop Augustine, unravel the mystery of the Trinity." Then he disappeared. Whether this account is apocryphal or not, I leave to your good judgment. But I think we all get the point. The Trinity will remain a mystery forever and then some.

This morning over instant decaffinated coffee and a toasted raisin muffin, I read a highly favorable review of a book by Jack Miles in The New York Times. Miles calls his tome God: a Biography. The review opens with this paragraph, "You cannot plumb the depths of the human heart," reads a passage in the Apocrypha, "nor find out what a man is thinking. How do you expect to search out God, who made all these things, and find out His mind or comprehend His thoughts?" The youngster of the St Augustine story would shake his head in approval of these lines. Now you better understand I think what we are up against on this feast in honor of three Persons in one God. The early seventeenth century poet John Donne wrote breathlessly, "Batter my heart, three person'd God; for you as yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend." Having just as breathlessly repeated that prayer, should we attempt to turn our backs on the Trinity and get on with our lives?

Inasmuch as the Teacher spoke of God as Father an awesome forty-five times at the Last Supper, we would be most unwise to do so. Recall this famous line from John 17,11, "Holy Father, keep those you have given me true to your name..." Nor can you disregard or neglect the Holy Spirit. John 14,16 says, "I shall ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate...that Spirit of truth." Forget the Trinity and we do so at our own peril and also serious loss. There is much spiritual richness to be wrestled from a devotion to the Trinity. Eg, we can know we are told a lot about Jesus but only through the Spirit can we know Jesus. Would you want to pass that opportunity up? I like the spin the Benedictine Daniel Durken puts on the triune God. He quotes a poem by Sister Mary Ignatius that closes, "That God is not up, but in!" Durken then argues we must remember the Father, Son, and the Spirit are not up there somewhere in the heavens but rather in each of our honorable selves.

The much-quoted Matthew 28,20 has the Master instructing His people to baptize "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." So Durken advises the Sacrament of Baptism drops us not only into water but also into the Trinity. The Trinity in turn is delighted to take up residence in us. So, just as the triune God is in us, so too are we in the triune God. Or, as Durken puts it, "We have an `in' with the Trinity." People say of my hometown New York City, "It's sure a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there." Happily the Trinity does not say the same of us. Rather, Pere Durken says the Trinity with all appropriate flourishes announces, "We're not just visiting. We're staying." The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have pitched a four season tent in each of us. They are in our spirits to be cultivated, called upon, prayed to, messaged, you name it. If one understands that, then the sky is literally the limit. The fourteenth century German Dominican, Meister Eckhart, concluded our subject best with amusing langauge. "God laughed and the Son was born. Together they laughed and the Holy Spirit was born. From the laughter of all three the universe was born."

Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
Most Holy Trinity
Msgr. Joseph A. Pellegrino

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity: Loved, Forgiven & Empowered, The Actions of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit For many years I have encouraged people, young and old, to join me in a brief daily meditation which can transform our lives. I first heard about this mediation over 20 years ago when I attended a seminar given by Fr. Joh Fullenbach. I don't know if he is the origin of the mediation, or just promoted it. The meditation is simply to focus on three thoughts: First God loves me with an unconditional love. I must love realize that I am loved and lovable. Second, God forgives me, I must forgive myself. And third, God is with me. Whatever I do; I can do with him. The three meditations are really Trinitarian: they each express the action of one of the persons of the Blessed Trinity. We are loved. We are forgiven. We are empowered. We are loved. The Father loves us. God loves us. Sometimes we focus on the view of God the Father as the Awesome One, the El Shaddai, the Creator. We envision him as the powerful old man with the beard creating the world and Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. That is all valid. But He is also the Divine Lover.

John 3:16: He so loved the world as to give us His only Son. His Son told us to call God Abba, Daddy really. Our God loves us as a parent loves his or her children, unconditionally. He loves us for whom we are. Good parents don't love their children for what they do, although they are often proud of them. Good parents love their children for whom they are, their children. We are sons and daughters of God. We are loved. He, the Father, sent us the One who saved us. We believe in God the Son. We believe in Jesus Christ. We make the sign of the cross as an affirmation that Jesus saved us by being crucified for us. We believe that God's love for us is so intense that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity became one of us while remaining One with the Father. Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. Perhaps we use that term Savior too freely. Perhaps it has lost its meaning for us. Without Jesus Christ we would be in the grips of hatred, sin and death. With Jesus Christ, we are engulfed in love and life.

When we say “He frees us from sin,” we mean that he frees us from the misery that makes existence intolerable. With Jesus Christ, there is no situation in life that cannot lead us to his peace and happiness. Jesus Christ is the One who brought the Forgiveness of God to the world. God forgives us, not just as a people, but as individuals. We have to forgive ourselves. No matter what we have done, we have to let go of our guilt and trust in God. We have no right to refuse to forgive ourselves. We are not more powerful than God. The Word became one of us, Christmas. He died for us, Good Friday. He conquered death and restored eternal life for us, Easter. He ascended to the Father, but His Spirit and the Spirit of the Father, the Holy Spirit, was given to us on Pentecost and remains with each of us. We each have the Presence and Power of God within us. We can make God Present to others.

We believe in the God who empowers us. We believe in the Holy Spirit. We can do all things in Him who strengthens us, as Paul stated in Philippians 4:13. And so we begin our prayers in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. We begin our prayers in the name of the Father who loves us unconditionally, and of the Son who made this love concrete by becoming one of us and dying for us and bringing God's forgiveness to us, and the name of the Holy Spirit, who is God dwelling within us, empowering us. The sign of the cross is an affirmation of our faith. It is a declaration of whom we are: people God loves, forgives and empowers. As we grow in the knowledge that God loves us, as we experience His Love more and more in our lives, we are transformed by His Love. We want nothing more than to nurture this Love. We want to spread this Love. When we recognize that God forgives us, we realize that His Love is infinitely greater than our sins. We need to stop beating ourselves up and let His forgiveness into our lives.

So many people in the world, so many of us, give up on life because we have given up on ourselves. When that happens we get into a downward cycle. We continue to do things that lead to spiritual disaster because we think God will not forgive us. Jesus Christ is our Savior, He saves us from ourselves. He forgives us. He calls us to spread the Good News, the Gospel to others. He challenges us to let all know that if they are committed to God, He will forgive them also. He gives us the Power to lead others to Christ. Every one of us has a unique ability to reflect God's love in the world.

Every one of us is capable of instilling the seed of God's love in others. We can change other people. We can lead them from a meaningless life to a life of eternal fulfillment. We have the Power of God within us. We possess the Holy Spirit. And so we begin and end our prayers with a statement of whom we are and what we are about. We are people who are loved, forgiven and empowered. We find our meaning in life in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Homily from Father Phil Bloom
* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
Most Holy Trinity
We Want to Know

Bottom line: God has made us for the truth. We want to know. We want ultimately to know all truth...Jesus desire to give us the Spirit of Truth. The Holy Spirit will lead us to all truth. Happy Father's Day! Jesus says he has much more to tell us but we cannot bear it now. We need, he says, the Holy Spirit. "He will guide you to all truth." You and I are made for the truth - not as some kind of weapon or instrument to power but for truth itself. We want to know. Back in 1841 people lined the docks of New York. There weren't there to receive a family member or to see the latest fashions from Paris. No, they wanted to know what happened to "Poor Nell" - the heroine of Charles Dicken's novel, the Old Curiosity Shop. We want to know. Sometimes we are desperate to know. When I was a young priest a television series came out called "Roots". During the week people discussed what happened in the last episode and then rushed home to find out what would happen next. We want to know. I understand something similar happened these past years with The Game of Thrones. It wasn't as widely viewed as Roots but it captivated millions.

The desire to know, the way that certain characters can engage us, gives a comparison for heaven. We want to know, we are made for truth. We are made for God who is truth itself. As that truth unfolds we will want to know more and more. It will totally captivate us. Fortunately we will not need sleep because we will be filled with expectation that will make sleep impossible. Jesus desires to give us the Spirit of Truth to guide us to all truth. Regarding how we will experience that truth we should remember that we pray through Jesus to the Father in the Holy Spirit. In the Spirit refers to the Communion of Saints. Each reflects some aspect of God's being. Bishop Robert Barron refers to this diversity in his new book, Letter to a Suffering Church.

We'll see more this summer but today one quote about the variety of in the Communion of Saints: "Among the saints we find the brilliant Thomas Aquinas and the scholarly challenged Jean Vianney; the wealthy Thomas More and the abjectly poor Benedict Joseph Labre; the warrior Joan of Arc and the pacifists Nereus and Achilleus; the mystic John of the Cross and the social activist Oscar Romero; King Louis IX and the humble porter Andre Besset; John Henry Newman, who lived to be ninety, and Dominic Savio who died as a boy; Therese of Lisieux, who spent her entire religious life in a tiny convent in an obscure town, and Frances Xavier Cabrini who crossed oceans and continents; Ignatius of Loyola who walked only with difficulties and Pier Giorgio Frassati, who loved to climb mountains." After this impressive list Bishop Barron concludes: "The point is that each of the saints, in his or her utterly unique manner, shows forth some aspect of God's beauty and perfection." In heaven we have eternity to explore the mystery of God and how that mystery is reflected in each saint. Now, I recognize some people are so narcissistic that they have no interest in others.

They live in a self-enclosed world. God will not force anyone into heaven. St. Paul speaks about afflictions, endurance and hope. We each have to make a choice: to endure in spite of afflictions, to hope, to trust Jesus even when all seems hopeless. But, of course, we don't do it on own power. We are, says Paul, "justified by faith". Without the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, we cannot even make the first step. God has made us for the truth. We want to know. Ultimately we want to know all truth, not to show off, but for the exhilaration of discovery.* A good father wants his child to know, not just to survive but to know the good, the true and beautiful. Jesus wants to bring us to the Father. He gives us the Spirit of Truth. He will lead us to all truth. Amen.

********** *Other examples of the desire to know include political junkies, civil war buffs and brilliant scientists. Carl Sagan, when he was dying of leukemia, said he wanted to live longer to learn more and more about the cosmos. You could give many examples of the desire to know I think stories are the best comparison because of the way plot and characters can captivate us. And a person can keep going back to story like the Odyssey or the Bible and never exhaust it. Just so, the Communion of Saints.

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

Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
Most Holy Trinity
Trinity Sunday Last Sunday,

the feast of Pentecost, we came to the end of that great movement in our liturgy which began on Ash Wednesday. During these three months or so we commemorated and lived through the great mysteries of the culmination of Christ's ministry—his entry in Jerusalem, the Last Supper, his trial and scourging, his death and resurrection, his ascension into heaven and the birth of the Church. Now, today, shortly before returning to what is called Ordinary Time we are invited to reflect on the mystery of God himself. What we are invited to contemplate is the very nature of God. We began this liturgical journey in sackcloth and ashes but now we end it with a vision of glory. We cannot know God in all his fullness but we can know what he reveals to us about himself. And it is important that we do know God as he reveals himself to us because in him is our origin and our ultimate destiny. Indeed, if we want to know anything profound about ourselves then we need to know about God. Most people in society at large are quite content to travel along life's journey without any knowledge of God and without any real contact with him.

And this is a sad loss for them because in failing to come to know God they fail fully to know themselves. The very first commandment Moses handed down to the People of Israel was to love God. If, God forbid, we ignored all the other commandments and the entire teaching of Jesus Christ but kept just that first commandment we would still be on the right road and would be able to find fulfilment and salvation. This first commandment should not rightly be called a commandment at all for it is not a commandment, it is an invitation, an invitation to love. We think that we are human because of our heads, because we can think. But really we are human not because of our heads but because of our hearts, because we can feel, because we can love. It is our capacity for love that sets us apart from all other life forms and gives us our unique status. And the invitation we are being given is to love God, the ground and origin of everything that is.

The mystery of God is that he is all love and that the members of the Trinity live in a mutual self-giving love –a love which is so great that it overflows into the whole of creation. This invitation to love God is an invitation to enter into the very nature of God. If God is love, then the love that is within us is a reflection of God. This means that without God we are not fully human or cannot achieve our fulfilment. As we have said, so many people in our world have no real relationship with God. Our task and challenge is for us to be sure that we continue in and deepen our own relationship with God. This is not always easy. So often we find ourselves drifting away from him, attracted by the passing things of this world. At other times we might be angry with God. We might feel a deep sense of grievance against him for perceived injustice. The really important thing for us to do, however we might be feeling, is to maintain a deep interior dialogue with God. What we are talking about here is the life of prayer.

Our prayer life should be like a river –starting as a mere trickle, but as it passes through different landscapes and works its way round various obstacles it grows ever deeper and stronger as it draws from these experiences. Until in the evening of life it has grown so broad and deep that it becomes indistinguishable from the sea itself. God, the Blessed Trinity, is above and beyond anything that is. This is because everything that exists was created by God and so by definition God is of an entirely different order. So, as we have said, we cannot really know God in this life. But that is not the last word because God has taken the initiative to break through all barriers and reveal himself to us. He has done this in a myriad different ways through history, but he broke through definitively in the person of Jesus his Son. It is through knowing Jesus that we know God best of all. And by living the kind of life that Jesus lived we live the best kind of life we ever can live, for the way to our highest fulfilment is by imitating Christ.

Jesus' words are the most powerful way God communicates to us. And Jesus' favourite word is: Come. Jesus, over and over again, invites us into a deeper and fuller relationship with God. That simple word 'come' reveals the depth of God's love for us. It conveys also a deep respect for our free will because it is an invitation and not a command. But many people in our world have not heard God's invitation. There are sadly very many who, for whatever reason, feel excluded from God's invitation. And this is the greatest tragedy of all—that so many feel excluded from the love of the one who gave his life for them. Christians know there is no barrier between us and the love of God. But human beings frequently create barriers where they do not exist. It is as if we can't cope with such overwhelming love. It is as if in relation to God's love we are all frigid. But we members of the Church gather here every week because we know that God loves us and has saved us from our sins. Our task, divinely given, is to help our brothers and sisters in the human family to drop the barriers they have set up, consciously or unconsciously, against knowing and loving God.

This is a delicate task, one not easily achieved and one which requires a great deal of subtlety. Bible bashing will get us nowhere. Indeed there is only one way to complete this task and that is to do it Jesus' way. To accomplish this great mission we need to think and live and act like Jesus. All through the life of Jesus as recorded in the gospels we see him in communion with the Father and living in the power of the Spirit. Today we think about and express our faith in and rejoice in the Blessed Trinity. We cannot fulfil our mission in the world unless we keep our eye on the Trinity, unless we keep our eye on God—the God who is love, who is overwhelmingly generous, who is all forgiving, who is the fountain of all meaning and hope for the world. We cannot draw others into the mystery of God unless we ourselves are drawn into the mystery of God. So, let our prayer and wish and hope today be that we ourselves are enabled to lower all our barriers to the love and power and glory of God. And that as a result of this others too may be led into the path of wholeness and experience the fruits of salvation.

These homilies may be copied and adapted for your own use; however, they may not be commercially published without permission of the author.