THE MOST HOLY TRINITY – B – May 27, 2018

A reading from the Book of Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40
A reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans 8:14-17
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew 28:16-20


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It is important that every Sunday we assemble to celebrate Eucharist.  That is basic to the faith cycle in which we live.  We are refreshed following the week’s labor we have just completed, and are strengthened to face the week that begins.  Sunday is the Lord’s Day, we say.  Every Sunday celebrates that first day of the week when the tomb was found to be empty.  We rejoice in that evening of the first day when the Risen One appeared in the midst of the disciples and said, Shalom, Peace, and breathed the Spirit into them.  Remember.  Celebrate.  Believe.

This Sunday is dedicated to the Most Holy Trinity.  We celebrate the community that is our God as Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, the community that is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  This Sunday brings the time for completing the Easter Duty to a close.  You may wonder, having never heard of that duty.  In a nutshell, the faithful had from Ash Wednesday to this Sunday to get to Confession if they were in serious sin, and to receive Holy Communion in that span of time.  If they did not, another sin was added to their tally.

It is hard to recall those days when the majority of the faithful did not receive Holy Communion very often, and had to be ordered, so to speak, to do so at least once a year.  Of course in those days the period of fasting before reception was from midnight the night before.  Some could last without a sip of water until the 8AM mass.  But any later and fainting from hunger was a real possibility.  Add to that the emphasis on unworthiness to receive, and the urging to adore from afar, and you can see how it came to be that frequently the only communicant at the Sunday Mass was the priest.  Everyone else made a Spiritual Communion, i.e., received Communion by desire.  Hence, the Easter Duty.

Thanks be to God, that reluctance to receive is a distant memory.  The majority of the faithful receive regularly, not out of obligation, but as a logical consummation of the celebration.  They share the One Bread and the One Cup with all those with whom they have assembled as co-celebrants with the presider on this Sunday.  It is Holy Communion, the holy common union with each other and with Christ.  Communion.  Community.  Amazing.  That is what our God is about.

As was the case in those earlier days, the emphasis on God’s transcendence can make God seem unapproachable, distant, on the other side of the chasm, or far above us in the remoteness of Heaven.  God is transcendent; but so, too, is God immanent.  God is with us, drawing us into community with God in a relationship that is initiated by God and empowered by God.  Remember, in Hebrew Scripture, God pled with the people, Let me be your God and you will be my people.  Think of it.  God begs for the favor.  Our God is an awesome God who seeks to serve and dwell among us and in us in community.

Moses, in the first reading, challenges the people to remember how God has acted in their lives, calling them out of slavery into the desert freedom where, in the midst of amazing signs and wonders, signs of fire, thunder, earthquakes, and manna and water, God claimed them as God’s own and formed them into a community, a people peculiarly God’s own.  Did anything so great ever happen before?  Was it ever heard of?  Moses urges the people to remember and give their hearts to God, as they live in the covenanted relationship with each other and with God.  

Practically, what does that mean?  Live as god’s people.  Keep the commandments, those governances of living that will mark the people’s relationships with each other and with God.  By this manner of living the nations will the people are God’s own.

There is more for us.  Who could have dreamed or imagined what Paul tells us in the second reading?  We stand in awe of our Triune God who is a community of love.  That love is so intense that it spills over and rushes into creation.  Remember Genesis’ words?  On the sixth day, having proclaimed that all that had been created thus far is good, God said, Let us make human kind in our own image.  Male and female God created them.  Then sin entered the world.

Paul tells us that the rift in relationship remained.  The chasm that separated God and humans introduced by sin lasted until God sent the Word to take on flesh in the Incarnation, bridging the chasm and removing the separation forever.  The human and Divine become inextricably commingled.  Paul spells out the relationship for us: Those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God…you did not receive a spirit of slavery…but a Spirit of adoption!  In the Spirit we cry, Abba, Father!  The word Abba, by the way, is interesting to ponder.  It is not the formal word we translate as father.  The more accurate translation would be papa, or daddy.  The intimacy between child and parent is implied.  In other words, Paul is telling us that we have the same relationship with the Father, as does Christ.  That is what our Baptism accomplishes.  That is what happens when we put on Christ.  The first-born is the heir to the fortune.  That is Christ.  The baptized are co-heirs with Christ.  The Kingdom is ours if we are faithful to the end as Christ was.  At the end, Christ died on the Cross and the world saw failure and ultimate destruction.  Resurrection altered that and defeated Death forever.  We will be glorified with Christ.  Remember that the next time you mourn a loved one.  Let the promise give you courage and strength to go on.

Someone said in some forgotten context: Just think of it.  When Good looks at you, God see Christ and loves you with the same love God has for Christ.  What Paul says makes those words no exaggeration, but a statement of the truth we are called to believe.  Our end is to live forever in the community that is God and to live in that Love for all eternity.

Ah, but there is a catch.  You know by now that God’s gifts, those breathed into us by the Spirit, the gift that conforms us to Christ; those gifts are not to be horded.  Think of the unfortunate steward who was given the one talent and then buried it, lest he risk losing it in a misadventure.  That parable says that is not a good idea before God.  The gift is to be shared and, it would seem, God help us if we do not.  So we risk and fail.  It seems that what is expected is to risk and leave the rest to God.  That is what the parable implies.

So, in the gospel we meet Jesus in the Ascension moment.  We gather in Galilee on the mountain in awe, even as we might be burdened with doubt.  That means simply that we do not see clearly yet.  There is something more for the Spirit to accomplish in and through us.  It is in that Spirit that Jesus sends the fearful and doubting disciples to the entire world to tell all people the Good News, and to draw them into relationship.  From where will come their message?  Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  All?  Yes.  And that all can be neatly summed up.  Teach them to love.  It is all about love.  Love one another as I have loved you.  By this will all know that you are my disciples.  Of course we all know that there is nothing that makes us more vulnerable than love, nothing that is more demanding than love.

Ponder Pope Francis.  Listen to his urgings as he calls for a poorer church serving the needs of the poor.  The Bishop of Rome pleads with us to love really and practically the way Jesus did.  Love all and every one without exception, especially the poor who we hold in primacy of place.  All are members of one family of God, sisters and brothers in the Lord.

So, we return to Eucharist, to why we need every week to begin and end with Eucharist.  The Eucharist is the source and summit of all we do in Christ.  That is what the Second Vatican Council taught us.  When we ponder the Mystery and begin to comprehend the implications, then we begin to understand and to live I n hope as we remember Jesus’ words, I am with you always, until the end of the age.  No room for fear or doubt here.  The Kingdom has begun.  We share in the reign.

Sincerely yours in the Risen Christ,


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