Sunday, May 30, 2010

Trinity Sunday

A Shamrock. An egg. A simple musical chord. A tricycle.

All three in one. All ways of trying to understand the mystery we Catholics know as the Blessed Trinity. I often use the following example: My parishioners know me as Fr. Mike. My parents know me as their son, Mike. And my sister knows me as the Holy Terror, MIke! But praise God, there is only one of me.

The triune nature of our God far exceeds any example we can conjure up. These examples give us just a small insight into how 3 can be one.

The Blessed Trinity refers to the fact that God has revealed Himself to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three persons, one God.

Some people like to think of the Trinity as Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier. This distinction is insufficient, however. While it partially describes the functions God has in our lives, it misses the wonderful relational aspect of God's nature.

Our Catholic understanding is that God chooses to relate to His people. That we can know anything about God at all is because He chose to relate to us through Divine Revelation. The Old Testament is a chronicle of this ongoing revelation. Even in the Old Testament there are many references to what we now call the Trinity. God the Father of Abraham promised to send the Messiah who would reign with Power and Love.

When the Word became Flesh in Jesus Christ the Old Testament promise of a Messiah was fulfilled. When the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples, the Trinity was complete. All that was foretold about the nature of God was now fully revealed.

Much has been far more eloquently written about the Blessed Trintity than I could ever hope to write. Much of the writing is very inspirational. Some of it is rather technical. All of it is mystery. But I dare to say that this doctrine of the triune God is even more than has been written or will ever be written. It is far beyond our capcity to understand, yet is it so simple that a child with a shamrock can grasp it as deeply as St. Augustine or any modern theologian.

When the reading, studying, defining, and writing are all complete, this I know:

When we suffer, God our Father lovingly takes us in His strong, protecting and healing arms.
When we are abandoned, lost, mired in sin or friendless, God the Son, Jesus is there for us.
When hope is gone and life overwhelms, God, the Holy Spirit is there to empower and inspire us.

When we understand Scripture, experience Joy or grasp one of God's eternal truths, God the Holy Spirit has once again been a part of our lives.
When we abandon sinful ways, turn our lives around, or help someone in need, thank God the Son, Jesus because He is the One who has befriended you.
When you breathe, create something of beauty, or love another person unconditionally, be assured that it is God the Father who breathes, creates and loves, uniting Himself in your life and actions.

The Blessed Trinity~~ 3 for the price of one ~~ one for the Salvation of All.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ascension Thursday

Today we remember and celebrate that day when the Lord Ascended into Heaven. I have to admit that I approach this day with a mixture of feelings. I am inspired by the biblical account of our Lord rising on the clouds. I am encouraged by His promises of His abiding presence and the Holy Spirit. I eagerly await His return.

At the same time, I am sad. I wish He hadn't left. Why couldn't He just stay here so we could see HIm and talk to Him whenever we needed His wisdom, love and listening ear? Those apostles and disciples were so blessed.

Yet, I know that kind of thinking is worldly. It is even a bit selfish. I want Jesus with me. I desperately need to know I am loved by HIm, and see that love in His sacred eyes. These are, however, just passing feelings and fleeting desires.

I know why Jesus ascended. I can put part of what I know into words.

First of all He ascended because He is the Second person of the Blessed Trinity, God's Son, and it is God's will that Jesus should have ascended.

Secondly, Jesus tells us that He ascended to go to prepare a place for us and to send us the Holy Spirit.

Thirdly, He shows us the Way to the Father's Kingdom. Where He has gone we hope to follow. While He was on the earth He suffered. He knew sorrow. He died. While we are on the earth we suffer, know sorrow, and we will die. At the Father's side there is no suffering, sorrow, sin or death. The Ascension puts our current condition into perspective and our goal in plain sight.

Finally, I think there is a fourth explanation for the Ascension. While in the earthly realm, Jesus was bound as we are by the constraints of time and place. He could only be present in one place for a time. While He was in the desert alone, no one got to see Him (but the devil who is by definition a no one). When in the boat with the disciples, the people inland were excluded. Even when preaching to the thousands of people present for the multiplication of the loaves and fish, there were still many millions throughout the world who were hungering for God. You get the picture.
He couldn't be present here and there at the same time.

Furthermore, He had previously told us that unless we eat His flesh and drink His blood we don't stand a chance of getting into Heaven. Well...without being too graphic, even a small nibble can only feed so many people. So He went to Heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to us so that every Mass and not just the Last Supper, would make present His Body and Blood in Holy Communion. As long as there are priests forever who are priests forever, there will be Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament. Body and Blood. Soul and Divinity. Enough for the multitudes until this world ends.

It does not stop there, however! Glory be to God!

In the Blessed Sacrament, Jesus is truly present. We can talk with Him. We can love Him as intimately as the first Apostles. He will speak to your heart, calm your fears, save your soul and be your abiding friend and eternal Lord. To get the Blessed Sacrament, however, you must go to the nearest Church or have Him brought to you by and Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion.

Thus, in addition to this miraculous and lavish gift, He sends the Holy Spirit to be with us always. All we need do is to ask and there He is. At work or play, home or away, Jesus Whom we receive in Holy Communion stays with us by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Now, why was I feeling sad?