The World’s Shadow advises: “Compare” (.i.e. Yourself With Others), “Covet” (What Others Are & What Others Have), “Compete” (Outshine others and Get Ahead of Them). The Scriptures counter that with “Appreciate” (Who God Made in You), “Accelerate” (To be the best you can be) and “Affirm” (All that is good in you and others to Give God Glory!”) That’s the heart of Today’s Homily on Isaiah 55 and Matthew 20.
Sunday 17 September 2017: Scripture Readings for the Day:
We can almost grow weary by the biblical order “to forgive.” Clearly, Judaism emphasized it–those are strong words we heard from the Book of Sirach–and Jesus insisted upon it repeatedly in words and striking parables like this one.
Don’t we realize that when we refuse to forgive, we are breaking the first and foremost Commandment: I am the Lord your God you shall have no false gods before me?
Friends, we put ourselves above God and God’s mercy when we refuse to forgive! When we refuse to enter into the process of forgiveness, we fully disengage ourselves from the Two Great Commandments: Deuteronomy 6: 4 ff: 4 Hear, O Israel![b] The Lord is our God, the Lord alone! 5 Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with your whole heart, and with your whole being, and with your whole strength. And we hear in Leviticus 19:18 “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”
In Matthew, Mark and Luke: Paul’s Letters to the Romans and Galatians, the Epistle of James repeat and repeat the phrase. “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
Moreover, Jesus makes clear in today’s parable and many others that forgiveness is an extension of love. It is the essential ingredient to love, for as soon as LOVE stops being “Love-Forgiveness,” how can we trust we’re participating in the fullness of love? Friends, Dating Couples, Engaged Couples, Married Couples: Beware! If your friend or romance interest or fiancé or spouse refuses to forgive someone, something—however warranted the righteous indignation—YOU, dear friend, dear spouse will be next on the list! We participate in Love-Forgiveness (I preach this now as ONE WORD) or we do not. We must cultivate Love-Forgiveness in our hearts and invite loved ones to do the same.
What’s needed for love-forgiveness to reign? Here’s the short list:
- Vent, Rage and Cry to the Only Fully Objective Loved One — GOD; Jesus Himself prayed psalms of lament, disappointment.
- Secure that God loves you in your anger, your hurt, your betrayal –that God’s love for you is the foundation of your life—pray that you are moved to PITY the one who hurt you. See in him or her a fellow human being who has fallen from grace, given into temptation of selfishness, greed, violence
- Take TIME OUT, awaiting grace to move you from hurt, and/ or rage to pity and, finally, to tenderness
- Pray Pity be transformed to TENDERNESS as you would offer tenderness to a disobedient child; everyone has a right to live, to learn, to improve, to encounter God through Love-Forgiveness – In this world of ours, it is one of the primary ways to encounter God.
- With patience, discern forms of accountability you may eventually offer your assailant or adversary—just as a priest offers penance to sinners in the confessional. As penance offers actions and prayers to help the penitent to both show remorse AND accept accountability for his or actions in praise of God, so, too, must we be “priests to one another,” offer opportunities for change – as you would with a child.
- Allow for Time to Pass, i.e., GOD’s Time, not “our time,”, for a person to come to a place of reviewing the situation and his or her actions calmly and honestly. Here we must trust in Jesus’ and the Psalms’ constant reminder that God allows the sun to shine on the just and unjust, good and the wicked precisely to allow people to choose to evaluate the harm they’ve done to themselves and others.
- Even if your health and safety require the relationship to be severed, distant, or irreconcilable– Forgive in your heart, so you are FREE from reliving the hurt, the pain; free to move onward toward a wiser, humbler, more hopeful future.
As we move through these stages and come to the love-forgiveness act, we are truly FREE. Forgiving another in this way frees us as much, or perhaps even more, than the ones to whom we offer forgiveness. Not everyone appreciates cosmic grace after all. There are people who will never admit that they’ve done something wrong. Then, let them be! You still are free! Ground your relationship with them on other aspects that you may have in common, change your expectations of them (be more cautious around them if you must) but move on!
This is the invitation of our Christian faith, this is the cross of responsibility in charity and true discipleship. Of course, we don’t often feel like forgiving another, but faith is and must always be more than a feeling. It’s a decision. It’s a commitment.
Remember: it’s only love-forgiveness” that opens up the future. Through Love-Forgiveness, YOU are the future extending the mercy of God and the promises of Christ: The glorious freedom of being children of God.
A friend asked me why, as a priest, I continue to comment on politics. Here’s why:
My politics aren’t limited to any one realm but they are informed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus was very critical of all peoples in power and in institutions that run without mercy just as God is mercy. Jesus would condemn terrorists, communists and greedy capitalists equally as each in their own way (terrorists most explicitly) contribute to the suffering, and yes, death of many peoples far beyond “self-defense.” It’s a social sin that governments build up armaments at the expense of fare trade food, health and education for their people. I certainly think Kim of North Korea is filled with evil and so is his nuclear tests, and he should be handled with harsh criticism and sanctions, but hasn’t our country set the example of “might makes right” long ago? Not that we shouldn’t be able to defend ourselves and innocent people–and, yes, hindsight regarding our pacifism to Hitler early on was a terrible mistake, but, all the same, if we spent an equal amount on diplomacy and support of our poorest citizens, and assist, when we can, other countries to do the same, there would be far less to criticize. Peoples who have basic needs met are far less likely to revolt, turn to violent revolutions, racisms and the like. In the 1986 the United States Bishops Conference issued a researched paper calling for Justice in the Economy (See Below) Wall Street and Conservative Catholic Economists crucified the contents saying that religious leaders need to keep out of non-spiritual matters. However, Jesus received the same hostility when he began his public ministry (See Luke’s Gospel Chapter 4) and his criticism of established norms of state and church put him on the Cross. (He called Herod “a fox.” And “render to Caesar what is Caesars and to God what is God’s “is not about separation of Church and State but pointing out the limits of the state because, for believers, all belongs to God. All prominent Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox scholars have affirmed this for almost a century, but people still hold on to old world views and old ways of interpreting the scriptures. The point of the Cross was to put a mirror onto society and its violent, selfish aspects to forgive and transform them. Not simply forgive and let business continue as usual. Nothing should stay the way it is because it worked in the past. People forget the Bible is as much future-oriented as it informs us of the past. At any rate, that is just some of the basis for my informed, prayerful sense that religion and politics must be kept in dialogue and that religion considering Jesus is asked to take a critical stance and look at the consequences for as many people as possible, not just a few, in reviewing current trends and legislations.
Meanwhile chick this out http://www.usccb.org/upload/economic_justice_for_all.pdf
Homily for Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
By Fr. James DiLuzio C.S.P.
1 Kings 19:13-19
Gospel of Matthew 14: 22-33
Some people shout but never say anything. Some people scream, but never learn to speak. Some people hate without ever thinking why, and how they came to hate another person or group. Others live by a rule that say, “Fire, Ready, Aim!” Our nation and our world is becoming more impulsive and compulsive—people acting from gut feelings, fears and prejudice without reflection, certainly without prayer–thinking in very limited terms, self-serving terms. More and more people are losing a sense of the bigger picture—a larger, wider, more embracing approach to life and its diversity of peoples.
This weekend’s tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia is an excellent example of the evil that cultural, ethnic and economic isolation and impetuosity create. What motivated people with a white supremacist perspective to travel from Ohio and other places throughout the country to come to this Virginia town to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E Lee? Since the ethnic and prejudicial killings over the past several years in our country, were there sufficient Town Meetings, Conferences, Dialogues from coast to coast to dissect the complexity of these and related issues to prevent more violence? In fairness, the Charlottesville Mayor and Council did conduct town meetings to let people air their perspectives and their feelings before taking down its Confederate Flag and deciding on moving Robert E. Lee and other Confederate Statues into museums which could better contextualize these historical figures’ characters and life choices than displays in public parks allow. But perhaps there was insufficient outreach and dialogue with and about the Supremacist Organization before their rally was allowed in the name of “Free Speech.” Was there sufficient and significant preparation conducted by the protestors and police prior to the event—and, equally important, because our nation has been crying out for more Town Meetings, have there been (and will there be) significant number of meetings in churches, synagogues, mosques and council halls to address the seeds of hatred, prejudice coast-to-coast? Why or why not? Everybody knows “Violence doesn’t occur in a vacuum.”
We all fail to initiate and perpetuate the kind of dialogue about morals, logic, faith, culture, diversity that this Age requires. We fail, in part, because we rely upon ourselves alone without the patience to prayerfully allow God to work through all our thoughts and feelings before we act. For example, thankfully, there were many protestors responding to the KKK/Supremacist March, but I wonder if instead of posters of condemnation there were also (and there may have been) placards stating things like and “God loves us all,” “All Nations Shall Come Together,” “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
Not that by that time, on that day, it could have made much difference with the Hate march. But if there were such ideas floating around in the protest, there would at least be some clarification of the kind of thoughtful, preventative action Christianity call us to embrace.
How much, for example, did anyone at that march really know about Robert E. Lee? I had to do some research myself. I was surprised to read he was against slavery and against violence. Against his better judgment he joined the Confederate Army to, in his mind, protect his native Virginians. He could have been known for pleading for more dialogue among Virginia’s Legislature and with President Lincoln and his Cabinet, more caution on behalf of the Southern States before cessation. Instead, he compromised his conscience and his deeper values, he didn’t choose to act with a bigger picture in mind. Lee’s story and conflicts could be better known, better discussed and could lead to more self-scrutiny for our world today, but alas, as in the times of Jesus, only some, not all, are willing to join in the conversation. Many won’t ever, many don’t, but who do we say we are? What do we think the proper response of faith is?
Now what does this have to do with today’s Bible Readings? Everything! In 1 Kings, we find Elijah hiding in mountain cave. More dialogue with the previous passages of Scripture is needed to understand the context. He’s hiding because he acted impulsively, filled with his own zeal for the Lord, he slaughtered all the prophets of Baal, the pagan cult of Jezebel, the wife of Israel’s King Ahab. The king and queen now seek the prophet’s life. Of course, Elijah expects the Lord to come in Elijah’s own image –with the wrath of whirlwind, an earthquake, in fire. Instead, God arrives in “a tiny whispering sound” through which Elijah listens and defers more fully to God’s counsel, becoming more rooted in God’s love for him rather than his own zeal to love the Lord more. This conversation results in Elijah being prepared for heaven. His ministry is over. God wants him to ordain a new prophet in his stead, Elisha. Then Elijah is taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire. Something about prudence, patience, and repentance seems to be the thought for the day.
Now let’s look at the Matthew’s Gospel: What made Peter so impetuous as to try and walk on water to Jesus? Was he ready? Had he fully acknowledged Jesus as both human and Divine? Jesus walking on Water was manifesting His Divinity, His Union with God to be in command of Nature as well as the source of life for human souls. Obviously, Peter wasn’t ready; he didn’t understand this nor the degree to which he had to focus on Jesus rather than the raging wind. Thankfully, Jesus knew that. He knows we aren’t often ready to let faith’s wisdom sustain us, so he extends his hand. However, what if Peter were less anxious to act and more open to simply let Jesus come to him? What if he chose to surrender to the bigger truth that “God loves us First” and that God will act “First” — through our conscience, through our prayer. Patiently allowing our conscience and our consciousness to be centered in God makes us more fittingly responsive to the evils of the world, more preventative, less reactionary. Jesus was coming to Peter and all the disciples in the boat. Could / should Peter have waited? What might have occurred had Peter allowed Jesus to make his point as God and Man first, allowing the Spirit to seep more fully in his mind and body and find more communion with the disciples before boldly reacting and presenting Jesus with his own “state of emergency?”
All this is “food for thought,” regarding our degrees of dependence upon Christ as we address the problems of our times. One thing for sure, we must speak out against evil, hatred and violence, but how we do it, and more importantly, the extent to which we let the Spirit move us to daily efforts of prevention–THIS is the question we must address today, tomorrow and the next day. Jesus came, He continues to come and thankfully, we arrived today to let his Word penetrate us again and this Eucharist to nourish our conscience, bodies and spirits. Allowing Jesus to come to us first, to allow him to do what He Will Do for Us first before we act, react, respond –knowing that we must put our faith into action—can and will make all the difference in our responses to the evils that abound in our nation and in the world.
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Homily by Fr. James DiLuzio C.S.P.
Readings: Isaiah 55: 10-11; Psalm 65; Romans 8:18-25; Matthew 13: 1-23:
“A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path . . .”
In the time of Jesus, the world was primarily agrarian. Towns like Nazareth were surrounded by farmland, wheat and barley fields and more. Cities, too, had sections for growing crops within or adjacent to them. Not too long ago, even New York City had fields of crops on Manhattan Island to say nothing of the farm communities that was once Long Island. How well do the spiritual analogies to sower and seed resonate with us today? For many these images exist in our minds and imaginations–memories of our trips beyond the confines our homes in cities or suburbs. There’s a danger in those associations, however, when these thoughts and images become nostalgic–memories of history, glory days of the past; sadly then, so, too, Jesus, forever linked to “long ago and far away.”
Part of the role discipleship for each and every Christian is to re-phrase, re-point the vocabulary and images of the Bible into contemporary ones, as Isaac Hecker, the founder of the Paulist Fathers once wrote: “If Christ is to be to us a savior, we must find him here, now, and where we are, in this age of ours also; otherwise he is no Christ, no Saviour, no Immanuel, no ‘God With Us.’ “
So, let’s translate Jesus’ words with some more common, everyday analogies:
· “The Seed on the path which the devil takes it away”: A toddler plays with a favorite toy. Parents, Godparents, Aunt and Uncles savor this gift: How well it suits this baby! See how his or her personality and talents are beginning to emerge. But one day another toddler comes to play. This one has a different toy. Oh, no! Our little darling abandons the gift, that wonderful, unique self-revelatory toy—with so many games and instruments yet to explore! With chagrin-no, disgust-we look on as our son or daughter grabs the inferior toy and fighting ensues amongst the babes. The “best toy,” “The best gift” gets tossed aside.
· Then we have “Seed on rocky ground”: We come to Mass and make a brief but superficial connection between Jesus’ life and ours. We find ourselves too tired to keep the connection going. Our expectations about prayer become too elaborate – a kind of “all or nothing at all.” Forgetting that Saints and Prophets reminded us in many different ways: “It is absurd to say you do not have the time to pray, as it would be to say that you have no time to breathe. Pray when you rise and dress, pray when you are on the way to work, or to your place of business, or on your return home or before you go to bed.” (That’s another quote from Paulist Founder Isaac Hecker.)
· “Seed on thorny ground” is evidenced in the growing boy or girl who enjoyed bible stories but now prefers Star Wars, Spiderman, Wonder Woman and Marvel Comics. We must ask, “Will no one help this child make connections between these stories and great spiritual truths?” For that matter, who will enlighten the adult who sees no connection between being a Yankee Fan and applying good sportsmanship and team work at school or work or within his or her social network? And, of course, there are the thorns of anxieties and fears that could motivate prayer, seek counsel, work themselves out through conversations with friends offering comfort and other perspectives, but, alas, sometimes each of us prefer the “funk.” Yes, even we ignore the many options for healthy release. How often we forget Jesus is everywhere, including other human beings!
To all of these, the “Rich Soil,” of course provides the antidote: On “Rich Soil,” Someone begins to sing, clap hands and dance, distracting the violent toddlers from the toy of contention.
On “Rich Soil,” the family that prays together – but not with rigidity—not by insisting that it’s always the after-dinner-rosary, but expanding prayer to discussions about God in our lives, or favorite bible stories that link to what we’re going through today, or the wonders of what the school kids are learning in science or in Art and sees this as extension of prayer—this family stays together.
On “Rich Soil,” the thorns of negative thinking, constant criticism, or compulsion to “keep up with the Joneses” fades away. On “Rich Soil,” Christians enjoy religious dialogue—we don’t shelter ourselves within the Church but understand the importance of “coming and going” as in Psalm 110: “My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. . . 7 The Lord will guard you from all evil; he will guard your soul. 8 The Lord will guard your coming and going both now and forever.” – Words that show how the dynamic Isaiah described of rain and snow returning to the heavens through precipitation applies to us receiving and getting caught up in grace, increasing our intimacy with Christ as He feeds us and draws us closer to Him, moment to moment, day after day.”
In “Rich Soil,” every Christian humbly acknowledges “I am all these soils—WE are all these soils.” In so doing, we trust that Jesus cultivate us, gives us the appropriate toy, sings the song we need to hear, offers the prayer we need to pray – if not today, then tomorrow or the next day. When we’re in the rich space, the “right place,” there’s comfort in admitting God’s timing is not our timing. The Holy Spirit is at work within us and in the world.
Pope Saint John XXIII is quoted as saying, “Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do”—implying, of course, that “nothing is impossible for ‘God With Us.’ Today’s Word and Eucharist offers yet another opportunity to make all things possible as we hold on to Jesus’ words: “knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you.” May we not take them for granted!
Today’s Scripture Readings may be found at:
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2 July 2017
Reading 1 2 Kgs 4:8-11, 14-16a
Responsorial Psalm Ps 89:2-3, 16-17, 18-19
Reading 2 Rom 6:3-4, 8-11
Gospel Mt 10:37-42
Fr. James DiLuzio C.S.P.
What would you say to the priest who announced from the pulpit, that he, personally, needs you to come to mass? What would you say if he told you his life dependent on you, your active participation at Mass AND that you would wound him greatly if ever you should miss Mass, regular confession or one of his many religious education seminars?
What would you say if that same priest saw you on the street and burst into to tears, telling you how happy he is to know that you are alive and asking, “What on earth could have happened to prevent you from hearing last Sunday’s sermon?”
And what would you say if that priest called you on the phone to say, “Congratulations on your new car,” AND “Oh, how I would like a new car and, that, if you were a true Catholic, you would buy one for me at your next available opportunity?”
I think you would say, “Send for the ambulance! This priest is MAD! The man has lost his marbles!”
Even without such drastic, inappropriate behavior, human relationships can easily become disordered, unbalanced, yes, even crazy. Sometimes unawares we move from genuine enjoyment of another, from acceptance of another’s abilities and failings, to neediness, manipulation, jealousy and resentments.
For example: A marriage filled with reciprocity and mutuality can suddenly dissolve into insecurities that make unreasonable demands, devolve into disrespect for changes that occur naturally over time; alterations in likes and dislikes, comforts and discomforts. A model couple in their youth becomes a monstrosity when the two don’t mature together, with one or the other or both insisting their relationship remain as if they were still high school sweethearts, having never advanced in education or career paths or developed new interests.
Similarly, what happens in our family dynamics when parents of adult children (or adult children toward their parents) insist on weekly phone calls or birthday presents or visits to such a degree as to convey that their love for their children / parents is contingent on these and these alone? Suddenly, spontaneity, mutual respect, generosity of spirit–fly out the window. Through these and perhaps more subtle examples than that of our crazy priest, we know something is wrong when one family member or friend becomes needy, suspicious, demanding and greedy and the other feels resentments without any idea as to what to do with them.
When we insist that love must be justified, proved and actualized to our personal satisfactions, as if to say: “If you love me, you will agree with me;” “If you love me, you will always take my side, right or wrong,” — What kind of love are we falling into these days? Thankfully, there is an antidote to this fallible human condition of ours—The antidote, of course, is Jesus. Jesus who tells us we must love HIM first, honor God first above all, including family members and friends. Only then, with the Holy Spirit at the center of our lives, can we love one another modestly, with generosity and patience, free from the fears, demands and insecurities to which human love is prone.
The Cross we pick up as disciples insists we love others beyond our wants and needs–not to our neglect (Only God can be the True All-Giving Tree if you might be thinking of that popular children’s book) but to our mutual benefit that puts the relationship above all else. Whether relations among spouses, friends or business associates, faith invites us to cultivate the kind of give-and-take that will keep our families, friendships and businesses healthy and holy. Just as the Trinity – Father, Son and Spirit – is in perfect balance, all relationships that aspire to holiness require the time and effort to find a balance between what I need, what you need and what we both enjoy together and not without considerable sacrifice either –just as the Sacrifice of Christ offered freely to the World for the Father’s glory remains part of our redemption.
Counseling couples and families in crises I urge them to clarify each decision they make. Each need to state clearly any one of the following:
- I choose this because it is clear to me that we both want / like this choice equally. 2. I go along with this choice as a gift to you because it’s not my personal preference, but I give it freely and with joy. 3. I go along with this choice as a sacrifice because I’m against it but I can live with it for your sake. 4. I cannot go along with this and I need for us to look at alternatives / a compromise. There needs to be a balanced use of all four of these tools in every kind of relationship. That’s the human cross, the recognition of our fallibilities as we try to help relationships mirror the perfection of Father, Son and Spirit as much as possible.
We find an example of Healthy and Holy relationship mirrored in the spirit of outrageous hospitality that the woman of Shunem offers the prophet Elisha–a spirit of complete enjoyment of the other, generously giving without asking anything in return except for the sheer pleasure of his company. She makes no conditions. Her house is opened. In fact, she’ll expand it. Ultimately, this kind of unconditional love is rewarded: for the one who receives such generous love (if he/she like Elisha keeps God at the center of his /her life as Elisha does), is bound to offer reciprocity—in this case the promise of a much longed-for child. And even if they don’t bestow upon us something miraculous, or anything at all, the rewards are still ours: peace of mind, contentment in Christ’s love, and, yes, belief, that there are, indeed, the rewards of heaven. The truth is that in God’s time, wonderful surprises abound when two or more love one another as God loves us, when we see what God sees in others. “Go ahead, mother, go to your office and practice your violin, write the next great American novel! I’m happy to fix my supper myself for all the meals you’ve offered me in time.” In brief, we learn to say to others: “Be who God wants you to be; not what I need you to be.” This healthy, holy dynamic is meant to engage every Christian within and beyond family, Church and Nation. In Christ and through Christ we are invited to take any and every opportunity to cultivate mutual respect, joy in diversity and reconciliation-as needed- in every encounter, in all situations.
Our misguided priest thought his life and ministry was about him and him alone. He represents the shadow within all of us that must come into the light of Jesus. Thankfully, in Word and Sacrament, Jesus offers his hospitality to us—unconditionally, freely. His is the Glory of the Cross expanding from the family to the stranger, the immigrant, to a holy world view. Thank you, Jesus, for the faith that draws us to you. May we experience your nurturing, unconditional love in this Mass today and come to appreciate the extent of your patience with us until we fully place YOUR LOVE FOR US at the center of our lives, in the heart of our families, at the table with friends and strangers, alike. Yes, Jesus, today we understand: Eucharist is more than something we share in Church.
Trinity Sunday. Why is it important – so important, in fact, that we devote one Sunday every year to exploring this confounding Mystery and all its implications? Just as we do for the Christmas Incarnation, the Good Friday Cross and Easter Resurrection. It may be the most taken for granted Holy Day in the Church for it has no secular counterpart or observance. Christmas and Easter are everywhere in stores and bank holidays, Good Friday, not as much, but there’s still a general cultural acknowledgment. But the Trinitarian Understanding of God, well, it’s only for those of us who call ourselves CHURCH.
Just as all life is a burst of energy, creativity, diversity, life, death and rebirth –a confirmation of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus in all things, the Trinity, too, makes its imprint on all creation. How? Because all life is Relationship. Nothing exists except in relationship to something else. No human being originates all by himself or herself. We say humanity is made in the image of God, and as we are relational beings, so too must the heart of God be relational. The Great Mystery is that God is ONE, Indivisible, Undividable yet still Relational: Father, Son and Spirit. Not merely different functions of God, although we often speak of God in those ways, but ONENESS. There’s relationship in ONENESS, in UNITY, in HARMONY. In, dare we say it—in COMMUNION!
But I may be getting ahead of myself. Understanding of the Trinity began with the words of Jesus –his unity with God whom he identified as FATHER, and his promise to send forth God’s SPIRIT -the advocate who bestows Wisdom, Courage, Stamina, Inspiration on all humanity, with, we believe, a unique dose of faith and comprehension bestowed on Jesus’ followers. In fact, Jesus cultivated us to perpetuate preachers and teachers to help us understand and express this reality imbedded deep in Creation and human experience. So, powerful, important and penetratingly deep was this revelation that it took the Church many generations and over three hundred years’ time to begin to articulate TRINITY in any formal way. We must not be surprised at that. One of the many consistencies in the Biblical Revelation is how slow humanity is to understand God and God’s purposes. From the back and forth, hide and seek relationship the Israelites had with God and their prophets, themselves and others to the obtuseness of the disciples and the trials of Peter and Paul in the Acts and in the Epistles—humanity groans in its struggle to experience and articulate TRUTH. Biblical and Church History (and human history) make very clear: No pain, No gain. Therefore, it should be no surprise that even after the Great Councils of Nicaea, Chalcedon and Ephesus we continue to debate within ourselves and with other religions the Reality of Unity and Relationship that is our God. (You’ll find it a delightful surprise to learn how other religions, while rejecting the Trinity, articulate their own understanding of God desiring relationship with humanity and all creation.)
What is NOT relationship in living things? The ATOM is comprised of Protons, Neutrons and Electrons. The ATOM is ONE ENTITY but it’s the relationship between the three components that is the source of its energy, source of LIFE. Plants need Sun and Water and Earth to thrive. John’s Gospel states: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” So, of course, CREATION would be in God’s IMAGE-a relational IMAGE. Tending to the quality of relationships—all relationships-must be the heart of our lives because it is the very Heart of God who showers love on the grateful and the ungrateful, the just and the wicked alike. God’s patience with us may be as difficult to comprehend as the Trinity itself, and, yet, it’s in evidence everywhere.
This mystery of TRINTITY is a gift to us. But not just a gift for us. It is essential that we find creative ways to keep it current in our consciousness and conversations, and attend to passing it on to future generations for the Kingdom to come. We must look to ways can we convey these truths to our children—the future Church. And we must be persistent, and prayerfully insist the Spirit inspire us. Because in some ways this young generation is less likely to explore this Mystery, less likely to take the time to contemplate GOD as we do today. There’s less in our culture to help them familiarize themselves with the potency of Jesus, His Life, Death and Resurrection. But there is now in Science, as our insight into the components of the ATOM reveal and in the ways more and more Science acknowledges MYSTERY and the relationship of all things. Still, we must cultivate conversations of these parallels at home. Dropping the children off to Religious Education or even Catholic School is not enough.
We all know that Myths, Stories, even Fairy Tales posit truths about life that can be helpful in explaining and understanding eternal truths. Analogies with familiar stories are important teaching tools. My favorite for kids is THE WIZARD OF OZ – one of the few movies that we can speak about with confidence that everyone has seen or read the book. The theme there is that to be one’s true self – to be HOME – is to encounter and appreciate the OTHER, and the only way to do that is to risk relationship. Dorothy represents all of humanity who needs the gifts of a Trinity – Mind/Brain, Love/Heart, Courage/Respect and Patience with our Animal Natures—to know herself, to grow, to fully love: the essential energy of all human persons. (And, if you go see the current WONDER WOMAN, you’ll that love is an essential theme of that story, too.) These are important conversations to have with our kids, don’t you think?
From the Fairy Tale Analogy, may we return to our FAITH perspective in and through the realities of this Eucharist we all share. What a diverse group we are—essentially the SAME soulful bodies, yet unique with different stories and experiences to share – yet ONE in Unity, In Communion in Faith, Hope and Love that is an essential TRINITY that binds us to God and One Another. What an insight! What an inspiration. What a grand scheme, a marvelous mystery to experience time and time again until our very pores and sinews, our bodies and souls understand a little more who we are and who Jesus calls us to be: A diverse people, a diverse world as ONE loving the Lord Our God with our whole heart, all our mind, all our strength and our neighbor as ourselves.