7 June 2020Most Holy Trinity

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
Most Holy Trinity
Pentecost - A Cycle - John 20:19-23

A violin made by the 17th century Antonio Stradivari came on the market in London. It was valued at $7 million dollars. Two points made it valuable: firstly it's a Stradivari and secondly in 200 years it had been hardly played. The Holy Spirit is our Stradivari. He has restyled us with His graces at Baptism and Confirmation. But we don't make use of them.

Everyone Mother Teresa told us is a pencil in God's hand. But He gets little writing from most of us. We Westerners should blush at today's Pentecost. Two thousand years ago our ancestors worshipped trees. They attempted to stay warm without fire in damp caves. They hadn't yet invented the wheel. But this was not the case with the sophisticated people of India, the Middle East, and North Africa. They were lining up by the thousands waiting patiently to be baptized with the Holy Spirit by the Apostles & Co.

The Pentecost story comes out of Acts of the Apostles. Its nimble prose is almost a daily history of the early Church. The Acts are a historian's delight. The word Pentecost is borrowed by us from the Jews. So too are other elements in our Liturgy. We owe much to the Jews and their genius. We even borrowed Jesus from them. If Christians are anti-Semites, they are guilty of short memories.

Originally Pentecost was a great Jewish feast. The Jews never took any gift from God for granted. They spent quality time thanking God for the first crops. The holy day was celebrated fifty days after Passover. We celebrate Pentecost fifty days after the Resurrection of Christ. We salute not the appearance of tomatoes in our gardens but rather the arrival of the Holy Spirit on the founding members of Christianity. Today our Christian ancestors were confirmed in the Spirit. The terrible beauty that is the international Church was born. Is there any wonder we shoot off liturgical fireworks at Pentecost?

At the point we discuss, the Jesus followers were leaderless. They were scared. They were short on bodies but not brains. They numbered one hundred forty timid souls - the apostles, Mary, and unnamed individuals. This was hardly a group equipped to take over the world. They clung to each other like fly paper. They were in the large room which had been the scene of the Last Supper.

It was to these frightened souls the Holy Spirit came with His wagon load of gifts. They discovered that Christianity was not designed to be a do it yourself affair. (Daniel Durkin) In charismatic language, they were slain in the Spirit. They began to feel like super strong people. They found themselves ready to take on the cosmos. They heard each other speaking in foreign tongues. These languages would be their passports to evangelize the world.

What happened to them that first Pentecost? Take a glass of clear water. Drop in a few drops of red dye. Ah, red water. A new creation. A few drops of the Holy Spirit into our souls and they became a new creation. A little bit of the Holy Spirit will take us a long way. The Holy Spirit was already the electricity causing the light to burn but remaining invisible. (Regis Armstrong) The bedlam occurring in the Upper Room was heard. Someone dialed 911 and a mob assembled. It was an international crowd. They watched the freshly confirmed apostles rush from the Upper Room. They spoke in various tongues about Jesus. The Church was jumping into the fast lane. The world would never be the same.

Many say, "If the Holy Spirit gave us the same gifts, what a job we'd pull off for Christ! We'd turn our town upside down." The good news is that we received the same cornucopia of gifts at Baptism and Confirmation. These were our personal Pentecosts. The bad news is that we have never thrown the on switch to use these gifts. Most of them sleep. Think of the Holy Spirit as the generous uncle everyone wants. He loads us down with wonderful gifts at our Baptisms and then doubles the ante at Confirmation.

But the gifts become like the Stradivari violin in London. Though increasing in value, they are hardly used. Today is a good day to blow the dust off our spirits and play sweet music. The Spirit will assist us. He is the master of surprises making the impossible possible. He reminds us it does not require great people to do great things - just unselfish ones. (Patricia Opatz) This Pentecost become God's well worn pencil. Leave your signature on the world. Jesus does not need lawyers. He needs witnesses. (Paul VI)

Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
Most Holy Trinity
Solemnity of the Holy Trinity: Claimed in the Name of the Trinity

There are two cities relatively close to us here on the West Coast of Florida that have a tremendous historical significance, St. Augustine, Florida and Savannah, Georgia.   Each was the place where explorers landed and claimed the land for their King.

On September 8th, 1565, Don Pedro Menendez de Avila landed on the northeast coast of Florida and established the first colony in the new world, St. Augustine.  With banners flying and in full regalia, Menendez planted the Spanish flag and claimed the land in the name of Philip II, the King of Spain.

Just a two and a half hour drive north of St. Augustine another colony was established for another king.  On February 12, 1733, 168 years after Menendez, General James Oglethorpe landed in Savannah and claimed the land in the name of his king, George II of England.  The colony was also named after the king and called Georgia.

Once a land was claimed for a king it was considered part of the Kingdom.  Any assault on that colony would be treated as an assault on the Kingdom, not on a remote land.

When we were baptized we were claimed in the name of the Holy Trinity.  The priest or deacon poured the water and said, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit."  From that point, the Kingdom of God was extended to wherever we might be.  We are under the protection of the Kingdom against any assault, particularly the assault of evil.

But why were we baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit?  Why not simply in the name of Jesus Christ?  Why were we not baptized simply in the name of God?  We were baptized in the name of the Trinity because we were claimed by all that God is, the fullness of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Today's celebration, the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, reminds us that we belong to the fullness of God.  The readings each give a glance at one of the Persons of the Trinity.  In the first reading from Exodus God came down for a cloud and proclaimed His Name, "Lord." Or perhaps it was the angelic hosts that cried out, "The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity."    These are the attributes given to the first person of the Trinity, the Father.  The Gospel proclaims that God's love is so great, that He gave his Son to us to save us from the assault of evil.  The second reading from Second Corinthians presents Father, Son and Spirit as St. Paul prays that we continue to enjoy the union with the Holy Spirit, the Power of God working through us and uniting us into the Church.

The heart of the mystery is simply that God dwells within us. Sadly, some people continue the concept held by many during revolutionary times that God is removed from us. That is not what God told us.  In John 14 Jesus said, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." He is not out there somewhere.  He is in here, in the spiritual life that makes a human a child of God.  Jesus promised us that He would never leave us alone, and we are not alone. He is with us always, not just outside of us, but within us.   The ability to call upon the power of God and the ability to be vehicles of this power forever is the gift of Pentecost, the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Our dignity as sons and daughters of God is far more than a title.  We have been claimed by God.  We belong to Him.  He belongs to us.  We have to keep this in mind when others present as normal that where God is not found.  We need to ask ourselves, "Is God in the room, in the house, at the party?"  If people are enjoying His gifts while still honoring His Presence, then we know He is there.  If people are flaunting the basic dictates of morality, then we know He is not there. And we know that it is beneath our dignity as children of God to be there ourselves.

In the sacrament of penance, good people come to a recognition that they have not behaved as well as they should.  Sometimes people will have a huge laundry list of serious sins they wish to confess.  They will go on and on talking about sexual sin, sins of hatred, sins of disrespecting themselves and others, etc.  When they finish, if they have sat across from me, they will often look at me sheepishly expecting a scolding or something.  I do not scold people.  I simply mention to them, "You are better than that, and you know that.  That is why you are here.  And I know also that I am better than the many times I have strayed from God."   By better I mean that we are sons and daughters of God.  We are children of God. We are better than the forces of the world that are trying to destroy us. 

St. Augustine was not just a remote colony. It was part of the Spanish Empire.  It could claim the King of Spain as its protector.  Savannah was not just a remote colony.  It was part of the British Empire.  It could claim the King of England as its protector.  And we are not just members of a religion.  We are part of the Kingdom of God.  We claim our God as our protector, our protector from the evil that is trying to destroy us.

Today we are reminded both of who God is, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and who we are, God's children carrying His Presence into the world.  

Homily from Father Phil Bloom
* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
Most Holy Trinity

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

Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
Most Holy Trinity
With the Feast of Pentecost we have come to the end of the Easter Season but now before we return to Ordinary Time we briefly reflect on the Mystery of God himself in this Feast of the Holy Trinity.

I was reading something recently about the belief of present day Jews. It said that, "Although Jews are able to understand Jesus, the Jew of Nazareth, they have never been able to understand or accept the idea of the Trinity."

I was immediately struck by the thought that by this statement the author demonstrates that the Jews don't understand Jesus at all. If Jesus is not the second member of the Trinity he is not the Son of God and therefore unable to bring about our salvation as we Christians believe he has.

Certainly, the Jews understand Jesus of Nazareth; they appreciate quite well the background and customs and mentality of a Jewish man born in that village even though it was two thousand years ago. But that is not only who Jesus was. The author of those remarks understood the humanity of Jesus but fails to comprehend his divinity.

We believe that Jesus was the Messiah as foretold in the Jewish scriptures and the one who brought about our salvation from sin and death and indeed that he is the Son of God. This is one of the most basic tenets of Christianity. However, we must recognise that not all are able to accept these doctrines as formulated and believed by the Church. They are indeed breathtaking in their scope and in their implications for believers and it is not surprising that many, many people find them unintelligible and even impossible to cope with.

For example a few years ago I read in the papers about the then Church of Ireland Dean of Clonmacnoise who was brought to an ecclesiastical court for denying these very things: the divinity of Christ and the existence of the supernatural. He resigned from the ministry just before the hearing was due to take place and so it had to be abandoned. It transpired that he had lost his faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God over thirty years before.

He did the right thing, even if it took him a long time to do so, since the job of a priest or minister is to confirm the faith of the people and he himself must believe in order to do this effectively or with any kind of integrity. This does not mean to say that none of us clergy have any doubts; of course we do, just like any other Christian. Doubt is one thing, active disbelief is another.

Religious doubt is something most people experience, it can frequently cause great anxiety over many years. Many people worry and feel deeply inadequate because they have doubts about this or that doctrine of the Church or indeed of the very basis of belief in God. And yet doubt is the necessary precondition of faith. One cannot actually believe in God unless one is in some way uncertain about his existence. The act of faith is as much an act of hope and love as anything else.

At the very heart of Christianity there is what you can only call a reverent agnosticism—we are confronted with the very mystery of existence for which we have no definitive explanation. We instinctively feel that there is a power greater than our selves who must be involved in the creation and sustaining of all that is around us and indeed of our own selves. And yet we do not, indeed cannot, know this for certain. We grope towards this greater power and as we go through life we constantly try to pick up clues to this infinite being whom we can only address as God.

The Christian realises that God reveals himself in various ways. He reveals himself in history, which we find recorded in the Old Testament scriptures, and he eventually reveals himself definitively in Jesus Christ his only Son. And he also chooses to reveal himself directly to us; however, this is done in a way that is uniquely sensitive to our own autonomy as creatures. He does not impose himself upon us. He is a God who waits patiently till the right moment, a God who waits for us to turn to him.

God reveals himself through history, in a definite time and place. We all know how he took a particular people, the People of Israel, and made them his own. He gradually led them to a deeper knowledge of his nature. He rescued them from slavery, he brought them to the Promised Land, he occasionally punished them when they went astray, he moved them on to a higher morality by means of his commandments, and he taught them through the prophets. In the pages of the Old Testament we see how he is always slowly unveiling more of himself, moving his chosen people onwards as they are more and more able to comprehend his mysteries.

The text immediately prior to the one chosen for our first reading today records the incident where Moses having come down from the mountain with the Commandments finds that the people are worshiping a gilded calf. In his anger he breaks the tablets of stone. Now in the text we are given we read how he goes back up the mountain to get a second set of commandments and tries to explain the behaviour of the people to God begging him to adopt them as his heritage. God listens and shows them his mercy. This is a good example of what I have been talking about, God being patient with us when we go astray or misunderstand him or his purposes, or when we doubt his very existence.

God understands our doubts and our inability to comprehend him. But he loves us greatly and in a marvellous message of hope as written in today's Gospel He loves us so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but have eternal life.
These homilies may be copied and adapted for your own use; however, they may not be commercially published without permission of the author.