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Contents: Volume 2 - Trinity Sunday - 05/27/2018


 

 Trinity

Sunday

~~~~

2018

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. --

5 .. (Your reflection can be here!)

 

 

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Solemnity of the Trinity 2018

The Trinity is one of those solemn mysteries that perplexes us. If we dwell on trying to solve it too long, we often just give up trying to understand it and then don't even celebrate it! Instead today, I suggest that we turn our minds and hearts to a rephrased question in our first reading. In that way, I feel, we can truly celebrate all three persons in the Trinity with a bit more understanding.

The first reading from the book of Deuteronomy tells us: "This is why 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." In a sense, it gives us a TV Jeopardy-type situation. It lists some "answers" then follows them with that statement which can be reformatted into a serious question. The serious question for us today is why do you know that the Lord is God ... and there is no other?

I suggest that each of us takes a series of quiet times this week to reflect on moments in our past when a choice we made changed our lives. Was it where we chose to go to school or whom to marry or not marry? Was it which job to take or which place to live? Was it someone who befriended us or whom we befriended? Was it something we said or didn't say, did or didn't do? Did we find unexpected peace by taking a walk in the woods instead of going to a scheduled meeting? Did we visit a church while traveling and hear a homily that helped us turn back to God?

Sometimes, even as adults, choices were made for us. What about some of those? Did we have to take the bus when our car broke down and then met someone during the ride who greatly influenced us? Did we experience a great sadness or turmoil or even tragedy and someone was "there" to help?

Some people will call such instances coincidences. Others might attribute them to random acts that just happened. I believe that although God does not micromanage our lives, nudges and pushes in the right direction are attributable to the One Who loves us.

As we think about the wondrous things the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have done for us collectively, let us also take time to look a bit more personally at our own lives. Let us acknowledge the specific ways we have been loved, cared for, and guided so we can "fix gratitude in our hearts". Let us rejoice and be glad... and celebrate!

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Deuteronomy 4:32-40; Responsorial Psalm 33; Romans 8:14-17; Revelations 1:8: Matthew 28:16-20

Beginning with Pentecost – last Sunday – there are three feasts of the Trinity in our liturgical year. Pentecost is about the Father and the Son sending the Spirit to dwell with humanity – well not just humanity but with all of creation. This Sunday is about the Son returning to the Father at his ascension into heaven at the same time he commits to being with his followers forever. That sounds strange – how can he go to the Father and still stay with us? Next Sunday is the Solemnity of the Feast of the Body and the Blood of Jesus. This is about God becoming man, one of us to share with us all that happens in our lives. It is about demonstrating there’s there is more to life than what meets the eye or strikes the ear. It is a feast day that reminds us that God is "all in" in his support of us. He became one of us so that he could demonstrate that God loves us to the very last drop of his blood. He showed by his miracles how important it is that everyone be active in the community in which they live. That’s why all his miracles are about healing persons so they can return to the community that illness, mental distress, poverty, blindness, and whatever other ill separates a person from the community. That should strike us that living is not an individual thing. Living is living in the Image and Likeness of God. And God is a community of three. And in that threesome all creation – even the most rejected among us – is contained in the heart of God’s community of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That’s something that takes some thinking.

In our second reading Paul tells us that God through the work of the Son is no longer the ancient God called El Shaddai, or Elohim, or even Adonai. This God who has chosen us is Abba – that is, "Dad." This God is not a harsh task master: this God is not one who frees humanity in order to own it or to enslave it: this God operates not from fear of punishment or condemnation, but as one who loves as the dad of the prodigal son loves his son and equally the son who stayed home. This is the God of our joy and our hope and our fullness of life.

The first reading is from the book of Deuteronomy. That book presents itself as the final discourse, the final instruction of Moses to the generation of the chosen people that wandered in the desert for forty years. It took a whole generation – forty years – for those twelve tribes to be formed into a chosen people, a holy nation, a nation of priests. In this Sunday’s passage Moses asks the people whether in any other time in history or with any other people has there ever been such a tremendous intervention on the part of God. The answer is of course "no." No other people has ever been freed from slavery to Pharaoh. We must remember that Pharaoh is a code word meaning the ways of the world. No other people has ever gotten past servitude to the unfeeling, cruel, and evil bearing gods created by mankind. No other people has been lifted up to living their lives focused on the great joy of life itself. This chosen people are supported by Yahweh. The very name this God gives himself focuses on what God’s relationship with the people. God names himself "the one who is with you" through every trial, through every joy, through every misfortune, within every moment of the nation’s life.

The Responsorial Psalm is the wonderful psalm 33 which insists that God has chosen us to be his very own. This is more than God’s creating us collectively or individually. His act of creation of everything visible and invisible is not some pass-time of a bored Divinity. It is God’s act of unconditional love. This song sings of the delight and joy at recognizing we are loved beyond any sort of measure. Whenever a person discovers he/she is loved there is an earth shaking change in how that person thinks of themselves. Their life takes on newness, a freshness of dignity and worth that is much more than prestige that comes from wealth or power. When we fall in love the change in us is noticeable. This psalm sings of that experience of love. This prayer song is our response to God’s awe-filled love for each person. That love of each person makes us a chosen people. The Hebrew Scriptures repeat over and over again that we are a people chosen by God as his bride. So intimate is his love for us!

The reading from the gospel of Matthew returns Jesus to where he began his ministry. Galilee is no great nation, no powerful military force. It is made up of ordinary persons who live the gift of life in ordinary pursuits. Jesus’ return to Galilee as the jumping off place for his return to the Father makes Galilee a place of wonder and importance. This is no magnificent city, no wonderful collection of buildings. It is merely God’s creation. The wonder of this place and this event is that Jesus tells them that all power and authority has been given over to him. That is the preamble to his instruction to go into all nations and preach the good news, washing those who hear. All those are moved to say yes to the revelation of God’s love for man in the ministry and work of Jesus turn their back on faith in those characteristics by which the world judges dignity and worth. Not that the world’s judgement is evil in itself. It’s just that the world’s standards are exclusionary and fail to realize the world of each bit of creation. The world’s methodology is inadequate and incomplete and separates the "haves" from the "have-nots."

It is the final words of Jesus that are hard to understand. He is standing on a mountain in Galilee, about to leave his disciples. Yet he says, "I am with you always till the end of the ages. " How can Jesus be in two places? How can he be present with us and yet at the Father’s side? Perhaps we are too focused on "place" instead of "presence."

The readings don’t name the Trinity as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The readings make no attempt to define God. There is no attempt to name God as all powerful, all knowing, all present or any of the other "all" words. The readings clearly present God as a being who is for us. The readings speak about our relationship with God and God’s relationship with us. We cannot put God into a box by defining what God is. God is always more: God will always surprise us with goodness beyond our comprehension.

There are some who believe we should think of God as beyond our possibility of understanding. Many make thinking about God a philosophic or theologic exercise. The readings this Sunday of the Solemnity of the Trinity speak not of mental constructs or scholastic argument. The readings tell us we know God because of God’s relationship with us. God not only created us. God loves us unconditionally. The readings insist God is with us. Even the Gospel Acclamation from the Book of Revelation speaks of God in relationship with us. The Glory which John the Mystic writes in that acclamation is how the Hebrew Scriptures describe God’s presence. According to this acclamation, "God was, God is, and God is yet to come." Each of these ages of existence proves God’s relationship with his creation is permanent, enduring, effective, and with no beginning or end. But that presence is truly historical with a past that flows into our now and our future.

The truth of the gospel is that God is with us. This is the source of our faith. God is forever with us individually and collectively. This is the source of our hope in good times and bad. This is the source of the energy needed to love others as much as we love ourselves.

How can we apply what the liturgy of the Word this Sunday teaches us? In each reading God is always One. Christians do not worship three gods. We worship One God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We recognize God as a community of persons. This divine community is One because of the Love is the relationship among them. In our world yesterday and today there are forces that intentionally divide individuals from each other and from the community. Whole groups of persons are scapegoated and falsely identified as the cause of problems in our society. Elections have been won by actively dividing groups of persons from other groups. Rhetoric is used to fan the flames of anger and distrust. Compassion is considered a weakness. Love of neighbor is thought to be foolishness. Those who foster the divisions rise to power based on distrust and hatred. The common good of all is submerged to the profit and power of a few. Yet many religious leaders support the use of division to obtain their desired outcomes. As children we’ve all been taught that the "end does not justify the means." As we look at the revelation of the Trinity we see unity, common purpose, and the well-being of all. Let us pray with great intensity and with aching hearts this Sunday that we reject hatred as our way to wealth, power, and prestige. Let us allow no demagogue to mislead us. Let us turn to the unity of the Trinity as our source of inspiration for how we relate to others. Let us keep our eyes on the prize and not be misled by false values marketed by loud and angry rhetoric. Let us strive for a more perfect union of mankind in the image and likeness of God.

May it be so!

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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GOD IS ONE AND GOD IS THREE: CELEBRATING THE TRINITY

One of the most fascinating things about being alive is the other people in our lives. Just as fascinating is the fact that the more we know them, the more there is still to know. Husbands and wives regularly report that even after more than twenty years together they are still getting glimpses of new things about the other. So it’s only bit by bit that they can revel and rejoice in all the different and charming things about the other, who will always remain something of a mystery. It’s the same with our knowledge and love of God – of God as Father, of God as Son, and of God as Holy Spirit. While God is anything but a closed book, it may take years of keeping company with God before we become deeply aware of particular pieces in the puzzle of who God is.

There are at least three ways of delving into the Mystery of the Trinity. One is to seach for how something that is one can also be three. In this approach it might help to compare the Trinity to a tree. The Father is like the trunk of the one tree, the Son is like a branch of the same tree, and the Spirit is like the fruit the same tree produces. Or we might compare the Father to the sun in the sky, the Son to its rays, and the Spirit to its heat. Or we might think of the three as like three musical notes played together as one harmonious chord.

Another approach is to concentrate more directly on the relationship of the Trinity to us. The first thing that has to be said about this is that, strictly speaking, God is self-sufficient. In the interpersonal relationships that have existed for ever among Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, God has been completely and perfectly happy and satisfied. But it is God's overflowing goodness that has led God to create us human beings in God’s own image and likeness. It is God's overflowing goodness that has led God’s Son to become a human being like us and live his life for others. It is God's overflowing goodness that has led God to give us our beautiful world to both preserve and develop in a harmonious balance. And it is God's overflowing goodness that has led God to destine us for everlasting life with Godself on the other side of this life.

The next thing that needs to be said is that the interpersonal relationships of our three-in-one God, show us that to be a person we need other people in our lives, other people to love us, and other people for us to love. In the 1960's there was a popular song that said: "I am a rock. I am an island. And a rock feels no pain. And an island never cries." That message is a lie. For while there are times when healthy human beings like to be alone and deliberately choose their own company, there is something wrong if they're always saying like the famous Swedish actress, Greta Garbo: 'I want to be alone.’ This is because we need the company and influence of others to animate us, to draw us out of ourselves, to complete us, to challenge us and comfort us. It's not for nothing that in the Genesis story of the creation of woman, God says: "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner" (2:18).

Some time ago I heard about a man who was so utterly alone in this world that nobody ever shook his hand, patted his back, gave him a hug, a friendly dig in the ribs, or even a wave. He became so desperately lonely that the only thing left for him to look forward to was a monthly visit to his hairdresser, where at least for a few minutes someone would touch him and care for him.

Loneliness can be a sad and cruel experience. This is particularly so for people placed in solitary confinement. I read a while back about a particular prison ward. The prisoners were given enough to eat. But they were not allowed to talk to each other. They were not allowed to work together because work leads to contact and conversation. They were not even allowed to listen to others on the radio or watch television. And of course they were never allowed visitors. After months of this cruel treatment there was not a single prisoner with even a skerrick left of self-esteem or self-confidence.

I hope and pray that none of us here will ever feel so isolated or alone, and especially when we have to face that particular human experience, which no one else can face for us - our death. What happens on the other side of that experience? What will we find there? Our faith tells us, that whatever else there will be, we will enjoy the company of other human beings. And more than that, on the other side of our death God will be waiting for us. The God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The God who made us. The God who has loved us. The God who has understood us. The God who has forgiven us. The God who has kept us going. The God who has finally taken us to Godself.

This is what we are celebrating in our feast of the Trinity. This is why we are giving praise and thanks to God in this Eucharist. Because God is not alone and because we are not alone, and never will be. And so let us pray together and mean every word we say: "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. AMEN."

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net. Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

-- Fr. John
 


 

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