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Contents: Volume 2 - HOLY TRINITY - C
June 12th, 2022

 

  Most

Holy

TRINITY

 (C)

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. --

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

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Most Holy Trinity 2022

In our Gospel reading today, Jesus mentions one of the names of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth. Oh, Holy Spirit, we do need you now more than ever! Come, Holy Spirit!

The majority of people in our modern day world have information of every and any kind right at their fingertips, literally through the internet. What a wonderful resource, until..... It is the "until" that has plagued people seeking truth from the beginning of time.

The very best place to start looking at truth is within ourselves. As a retired language arts /reading educator and now grandmother of quite the wordsmith in my 13 year old granddaughter, we have at times talked about shades of meaning of very many synonyms and antonyms for truth as a noun as well as pertinent verb forms. The shades of meaning are astounding. So are the many ways people try to get away with getting around "just the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." Acknowledging where we stand on the spectrum is important to starting to change ourselves and the world.

The second place to examine is in our actions as a role model for others. We are all role models whether we admit it or not. What we do and say as well as not do and don't say, influences meaning and, therefore, pure truth. Just a quick look at the news in any form of the media (not just the internet) will demonstrate this point. We must acknowledge bias as we encounter it and as we provide it. Sticking to the absolute truth as far as humans can decipher it can be uncomfortable, for sure!

A final place for us to check is what do we do about this muddy truth problem today and in the future. My answer is always prayer first, then following the fruits of contemplation for action. Come Holy Spirit, Spirit of Truth, come into our hearts and help us renew the face and language of truth throughout the earth.

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Most Holy Trinity June 12 2022

Proverbs 8:22-31; Responsorial Psalm 8; Romans 5:1-5; Gospel Acclamation Revelation 1:3; John 16:12-15

The safest way to preach about the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity is just to say, "we cannot understand the Trinity, only adore and worship God in God’s magnificence." That would be the shortest homily in the history of Christianity. It would as well be a significant disservice to those who come together as Church to repent, to celebrate, and to share the Body and the Blood of the Lord so that we may become one.

That we may become one! Now there is a message! In decades and centuries past, the Eucharist was touted to be the reward for the righteous ones. But there is more about this next Sunday when we celebrate another mystery that baffles theologians and us. That is, of course, the mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ that makes us one.

The Trinity, as a doctrine, a dogma of the Catholic Church (of Christianity) is a tenet of faith that was defined in the third and forth centuries of the Common Era – that is since the birth of Jesus. There were many controversies that grew out of the efforts to understand who Jesus was. Was he God; was he man adopted in some distinct way by God? Was he real or only a projected image of a man while being truly God? The swirling controversies regarding who Jesus was/is caused real conflicts and bloodshed. Constantine, who allowed Christianity to become the religion favored by the empire, saw these fights as disruptive to his power and a threat to his rule. He called the council of Nicaea (325) to define how Jesus was related to God the Father – was Jesus’ subordinate to the Father or not? But even this did not solve the relationship of the union of transcendence that is God with the human person, a creation of God. We now say Jesus is truly God and truly man. But most of us still remain torn between the transcendence – Godliness of Jesus – and his immanence, that is his humanity, being one of us. We say in the Creed that Jesus is truly God and Truly Man and leave it at that. Even so, it is truly mysterious how this can be.

All the councils that dealt with the Nature(s) of Jesus were the driving force toward definition of the Trinity as three persons. A person, defined in philosophy, is an agent, one who does, who works, who thinks, who judges, who knows, and who is unique. That is our experience of our own personhood.

This is really a too short a discussion of those councils of the Church. These councils were attempts to arrive at understanding. And the understandings that came from them were beyond what the human participants could of themselves, individually, have achieved. Thus, there is evidence of a Spirit that inspires, directs, and aids the People of God. Thus, there is Father – who creates and sustains; Word – who reveals and redeems; Spirit – who energizes, informs, and leads to wisdom. Thus, three persons. We should remember these words are human words and arrive to our minds and hearts from our personal experiences and are understood based on our personal experience.

But how can three persons be so uniquely one that they form one entity, God? If there are three, then would it not be more appropriate to refer to God as they, them, their? In all this, it helps to understand that their unity derives from the power and energy of relationship. A way of looking at the Trinity might be to think of human marriage. The comparison limps a lot because we are human, and God is utterly transcendent. In human marriage, man and woman commit to each other and in their intimacy that follows unite and – as Genesis reminds us – become one flesh. That becoming, that bond between man and woman is what we identify as love. That love is looking at other and pouring out energy and full appreciation for the other. Our marriages lived out are a process bringing growth and completeness to oneness: it happens over time, over years of experiencing the other. What happens in a marriage that is growing is that the relationship brings and makes more of each person. Amazing that result of the relationship. The more that is shared, is given the more there is received! Persons whose spouse predeceased them often describe their loss of the presence of their spouse as a form of continuation of the relationship. They continue talking to them, laughing with them, sharing the day with them, expecting to find them next to them. In such a fulfilled relationship, in a marriage that is in the image and likeness of God’s, there is growth. And that growth lacks limitations. What starts out as attraction, over time and practice becomes a unity that defies separation even by death.

In our humanness, we are accustomed to use images to help us imagine, to relate, to discover the other that is God. Images are created with content from the experiences of the artist. Even so, such images are limited in making God present. Much of the art depicting the Trinity shows the Father as a bearded, aged white man. The son, the Word of God is portrayed by European artists as a young white man looking more European than Middle Eastern. The Spirit is shown as a dove hovering over the other two. These depictions give us something to hold onto. But they also send a message that is harmful. If God is a white man, then all other races are somehow subservient. If Jesus is a young white guy, then all other colors of skin are somehow lesser, only the male gender has presence and value – even though Jesus was of Jewish descent and not the white of European nationals. His treatment of women chronicled in the gospels and in the letters of the apostles demonstrate a healthy and high respect for the equality of that gender.

It is a fantastic revelation to gaze on the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. That image is obviously not of a woman of European descent, but dark of skin like the Mexicans to whom she is such an inspiration. That image of Mary is itself a revelation of God’s creation of diverse and unique persons. If we remember the origin of that image, we recall her image was emblazoned on a peasant’s cloak. Not made of human artist’s hands. The image came from an artist beyond human ability. Its beauty and design came as a shock to the incredulous bishop and to the peasant who though he had brought the bishop a collection of roses.

We believe that God is transcendent, beyond our experience. Yet, we are created in God’s image and likeness. Does that not mean we can discover God, Father, Son, and Spirit, in our relationships with others? When we hate, allow bigotry to cloud our perceptions, deny others their rightful place and assistance to flourish: are we not blocking and demeaning the image of God that surrounds us? Many moan and groan: "Oh, that I might see thy face!" But God’s face is there in all its diversity and glory if we overcome our blindness and bigotry and superior attitudes. How can we look away from those in pain, those in terror, those who lack access to education, to health care, to a livable wage for work done? The Trinity is a community. When will we ever come to realize that when one hurts all suffer? When will we appreciate the achievements of others without envy or jealousy? When will we see not national origin, language, gender, race are not indicators of worth and dignity. Instead the image and likeness is God is forever created in infinite variations? The sum total of those images and likenesses fail to even portray in adequate fashion the complexity and utter immensity of God. Isn’t that what Jesus came to teach us – to save us from our smallness, from our ego-centric strivings? His proof of all this is that Jesus was willing to die on false, lying charges rather than reject his message of what God is for humanity and creation! The love of God is our model, is the path we take if we follow after Jesus. Do we have the courage to commit again to that path? Well, we do not need search for that courage. It is offered to us by the presence of the Spirit that came to us in events memorialized last Sunday. Pentecost Sunday is the coming of the New Law. We experience the wonder and effectiveness of that new law through the abiding present of the Spirit among us. And that law is actually pretty simple: "Love your neighbor as God loves you." Pretty tall order that. Are we up to trying to be that way in our living?

Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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GOD IS ONE AND GOD IS THREE: MEETING GOD THE TRINITY

Proverbs 8:22-31; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15

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 search 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 God the Father to the sun in the sky, the Son of God to its rays, and the Spirit of God 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 forever 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 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 completely 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 1960s 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, draw us out of ourselves, challenge and comfort us, and complete 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 even one visitor. 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, 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 through our human parents. The God who loves us, understands us, forgives us, and keeps us going. The God who finally takes us to Godself, and forever.

This is what we are celebrating in our feast of the Trinity. This is why we are giving praise and thanks to God in the Eucharist for the feast. 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.

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