The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity May 22, 2016
Reading 1 Prv 8:22-31
Responsorial Psalm Ps 8:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
- (2a) O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth! Reading 2 Rom 5:1-5
Alleluia Cf. Rv 1:8
- Alleluia, alleluia. Gospel Jn 16:12-15
Homily— May 21 & 22, 2016 Holy Trinity Sunday
This Sunday I am blessed to have completed 40 years as a priest. It was a cool Saturday morning at St. Mary Catholic Church in Cascade, Iowa where I was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Dubuque. I had no idea that I would be doing ministry in Waukon, Cresco, Cochabamba in Bolivia, Petersburg, Dubuque, Van Horne, Newhall, Norway, Watkins, Blairstown, Waverly, Hampton, Ackley, Marshalltown and back again to Dubuque. God has abundantly blessed me with many good people who have supported me with prayer and friendship. I have learned a lot and still find that Jesus has more to teach me when I am ready and when I slow down to listen.
Today we celebrate the Holy Trinity; three persons in one God. The disciples of Jesus would not have understood this as it was not formulated until the Council of Nicea in 325 CE. The Catholic Catechism teaches that “by sending his only Son and the Spirit of Love in the fullness of time, God has revealed his innermost secret: God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange”(221).
The opening prayer for this Mass stated, “God our Father, who by sending into the world the Word of truth and the Spirit of sanctification made known to the human race your wondrous mystery”. In other words God the Father revealed self to us by sending us his Son, the Word of truth. God so wanted to be known that Jesus became human. God the Father also sent us the Holy Spirit to guide us to holiness. The Spirit leads us to union with one another and with God.
As Christians, we are unique among the major religions in calling on God specifically as Father, Son and Spirit. In understanding God as One, as self-revealing and involved in history, we share key elements of faith with our brothers and sisters of the Jewish and Muslim faiths. In our attempts to talk about God, to name and experience the divine, we partake of the basic human desire to seek relationship not only with one another but also with the one who is beyond us as our origin and destiny.
Christians have come to see Jesus Christ as the embodiment of “Wisdom,” as she is spoken of in Proverbs. Because of sin and suffering, humanity had become confused about God and our relationship with God. The old stories weren’t helping, so “Wisdom”—Jesus—joined us. It was the whole point of Jesus’ life to reveal the Father to us and to reconcile us to our Creator once more.
We call God Father, Son and Spirit. We also call God Rock, Redeemer, Shield, Mother Hen, Fortress, Shepherd, Mother, Brother and Friend. We Christians must remember that our gendered and relational images for God are always insufficient; therefore we should seek the truth instead of thinking we have found it. In the gospel today Jesus tells the disciples, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.” Jesus is telling us that it’s ok that our concepts are inadequate, that we don’t know the answers and that we can’t understand all God is doing or asking of us. That’s the human condition—we are limited. At the same time, Jesus is saying that our limitations are surmountable and the Holy Spirit will guide us to the extent that we allow ourselves to be led. Revelation is an ongoing process.
Children naturally take. They must be taught to give. Give-and-take is essential not only when we are young, but every day of our lives. As we grow in our Christian self-understanding we realize more and more that our giving and taking flow from the very Life of the Trinity dwelling within us. To be led by the Spirit rightly, we must hear God’s word and follow it. We hear God’s word declared at Mass, but also through the words and deeds of others, through events in our own lives, through the graces and challenges that come our way each day. We follow God’s word when our daily giving and taking draw us and those we encounter more deeply into God’s abiding Presence. When others see the glory of God shining through us we know we are following the guidance of the Holy Spirit. St. Paul tells us that knowing God does not free us from human divisions and suffering, but knowing God will teach us that because of Him we can endure.
When I was ordained I did wonder if I could be a priest for all of my life. It was my hope. I t must be a similar situation for couples as they make a life commitment to each other. I thank God for my vocation and I thank my family, friends, and parishioners for their prayers and support. I want the words of St. Paul to Timothy to be applicable to me at the end of my life “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.” 2Tim. 4:7 +