Homily on the Occasion of my First Mass
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
St. Anne Parish
May 27, 2018
What was it like in the beginning?
What was it like even before Adam walked through Eden?
What was it like when there was nothing,
and the Spirit hovered over the waters,
and the Father spoke his Word,
One day, long ago,
God broke his own silence,
spoke into the formless void,
Let’s check the Catechism of the Catholic Church –
that big, green, kind of boring,
but fascinating book:
There are 2865 paragraph numbers in there,
and today I draw your attention to paragraph
number One, which says
“God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself,
in a plan of sheer goodness
freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life.
For this reason, at every time and in every place,
God draws close to man.
He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength.
He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin,
into the unity of his family, the Church.
To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come,
God sent his Son as Redeemer and Saviour.
In his Son and through him, he invites men to become,
in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children
and thus heirs of his blessed life.”
- “God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself” means that God doesn’t need you or me. But this is the best news of all, because here we are; he didn’t need us, yet he created us anyway. One is led to believe that he created us because he wanted to, and this is the best news.
- “in a plan of sheer goodness” – no tricks, no strings, no hidden motives; his plans for us, for creation, are good.
- “freely created man” – Nobody forces the God of the universe to do anything; He put us here, you and me, because he’s good and because he wanted to.
- “to share his own blessed life.” – This is the kicker. He created us freely out of his own goodness, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he wants anything to do with us. But then we hear, all over scripture, peculiar things about God drawing close to man, and how God comes back to rescue his people, and how he establishes covenant after covenant with them, saying, “you are my people, and I am your God.”
- “At every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family.” This is the essence of the whole Judeo-Christian thing: the God of our fathers, of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, draws close to his people, that he might save them and bring them back into unity with each and with him, and make his people heirs of his own blessed life.
What is the blessed life of God?
We celebrate it today on this great Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.
There are a million things one could say about the Trinity, a million directions one could choose to take in an attempt to explain this concept. Yesterday, the Knights of Columbus posted a link on their Facebook page with a link to a Vatican Radio story with the caption, “Here’s everything you need know about the Trinity.” Impossible! The other various tenets of our faith – the sacraments, the moral teachings, the prayers, the devotions, the life of grace, etc – are all profound mysteries the true depths of which can never be plumbed. How much more, then, is this true when dealing with today’s theme, which does not merely concern the things of God, but God himself.
The world disdains anything mysterious.
The world demands transparency, clarity, action, results, solutions.
Mystery is unwelcome because by its very definition it cannot provide any of those.
We love watching Wheel of Fortune and playing CLUE
because the puzzle, the mystery is always solved in the end
but “solved” is precisely what a mystery can never be.
Problems are solved, and mysteries are exhausted.
Mysterious things must be approached, investigated, examined,
but never completely understood.
We shirk from the mysterious things in our lives,
because we know they will only cause us to wonder more, to search more,
and ultimately to learn more about ourselves and the deepest,
inner workings of our own complex humanity.
We yearn for some kind of resolution to the age-old question posed by St. Augustine:
“O God, who am I and who are you?”
Alright. The Trinity. 3 persons, in one God. St. Patrick used the Shamrock; three leaves on one stem. Other saints have spoken of the Trinity using the sun as an analogy.
These are fine.
Today I would like offer a different analogy
and speak of the Trinity for what it ultimately is: a relationship.
The Trinity is composed of three persons; living, interacting, thinking, persons.
Many of you are married.
In marriage there is a lover, and a beloved, and, when something magical happens, the love between the lover and the beloved is fruitful, it results in a new life.
Same thing with God…sorta.
Think of the Father as the lover, and the Son as the beloved one, and the love itself which results from this union is the Holy Spirit.
You have lover, beloved, and love itself.
The Trinity is one God, and it is three persons who are united as a community of love.
If God, therefore, is a community…if God lives and moves and has his being in the context of a community, this has tremendous implications for us.
We know from the book of Genesis that we are made in the image and likeness of God.
Therefore, we are made in the image and likeness of community.
Thus, at our core…at the deepest level, we are built for communion with God and with each other.
This is why it feels good to sit around a campfire with our best friends;
this is why it feels so right to watch the sunset with the one we love;
this is why nothing beats an impromptu, agenda-free dinner out with our spouse and kids.
We are made for each other!
The blessed life of God,
which is the reward of discipleship,
is a relationship of persons.
The three members of the Trinity enjoy a kind of “infinite togetherness”,
and truly remarkable thing is that the three members of the Trinity,
are reaching out to us to restore us and help us remember the sacred dignity
which each and every one of us enjoys,
that we might live one day with them in infinite togetherness.
Infinite togetherness, of course, begins with finite togetherness.
Infinite togetherness with him, must begin with us –you and me –
becoming more open to togetherness with each other.
God is our companion. He walks with us on the way.
We must be companions for one another.
Who are you mad at? Forgive them.
Which sibling haven’t you spoken to in years? Call them this afternoon.
Which coworker were you rude to on Friday? Ask them to lunch on Monday.
How did you hurt your Mom or dad this morning? Give them a hug.
We must relearn to say “good morning” in the grocery store, and “good day” on the street.
Tell people you love them, be open with people and show them who you are;
accept people for who they are, that they might know they’re not alone.
The Triune God, the Holy God, the Mighty God, the Father and Son and Spirit,
the communion of persons who dwell together
in perfect and unmatched harmony
makes himself known to us through those around us.
Not through stoplights, or snapchats, or Starbucks, but through people
who are real and alive.
What was it like in the beginning?
What was it like before the great fall of Adam and Eve?
Genesis is quite clear in its allegorical account of creation,
that there was time between the moment of Eve’s creation from the side of Adam
and the moment she ate from the tree.
That means we existed once in harmony with each other and with God.
Before we became marred and distracted by sin,
by preferring ourselves over the will and working of God,
there was togetherness in the garden.
There is something more original to you, to me, to us
than our original sin.
It is our desire to be one.
One, ultimately, with God.
But one with each other.
Each one of us has been created to live and flourish
in communion with God the Holy Trinity,
the Father and Son and Holy Spirit.
He is mighty God and prince of peace,
he is Wonder counselor and Father forever;
but he is perfect lover
and generous friend.
Living in communion with God requires us to choose him
which is usually frightening because it requires us to
abandon ourselves to a mystery
and that can be a fearful thing!
May I offer you one piece of advice?
Always go toward the holy, no matter what you fear.
Always go toward what you know is the holy, courageous, vulnerable thing,
no matter what you fear.
Abandon yourself to the mystery of God, and the mystery of God will always catch you.
What was it like in the beginning?
But I suspect it was something like this today:
the community of believers, gathered as one,
in the name of God,
for ultimately one purpose only:
to fall down on our faces
as God’s holy people
and to cry out together,
Holy, Holy, Holy,
hosanna in the highest.
And to think, that as a priest
my entire life has now become dedicated, consecrated,
to fostering this kind of communion,
by celebrating Mass, forgiving sins, anointing the sick, and burying the dead;
through midnight sick calls and witnessing marriages, and baptizing little babies (and adults!);
through casual chats at the grocery store, and the airport confessions, and the broken boiler in the parish hall, and yet another fundraising campaign;
My God, what a life.
All I can say, dear people of God,
I promise to be faithful to you,
in good times and in bad,
in sickness and in health,
to love you, and to try to lead you to God
all the days of my life.
Let’s pray for each other.