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Contents: Volume 2 - Most Holy Trinity

June 16 2019


 

Most

Holy

Trinity

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. -- Paul O'Reilly SJ

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

 

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1.

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Trinity Sunday 2019

The readings this Trinity Sunday address wisdom, hope, and truth. In my opinion, these three virtues really epitomize the Trinity. In addition, they are exactly what seems to be sorely missing in 2019, close to home and in faraway places right now.

Maybe it is because my family is almost at the end of a school year with a 10 year old student, a pre-school teacher, and a professor, all in last minute mode with little energy and still too much to do. I have retired from that cycle but am still the Family CEO who keeps everyone glued together until our first real sleep-in morning and vacation day out of town! Current events is off limits time-wise... but there is still the urge to check the news feed on our phones. BIG Mistake!

Yes, in all aspects of life, we need wisdom, hope, and truth. I love the image of a craftsman in our first reading. It is a definite lure to spend some peaceful time in Nature.

Yes, there is much affliction in life that requires endurance. Our second reading states: "affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint." With so much else that does disappoint us sometimes in life, hope is not included!

Yes, there is much we need to learn from the Holy Spirit. Thankfully, the Spirit is well-acquainted with the concept of overload! All that we need to hear will be shared slowly, very very slowly.

In a time when instantaneous can seem a bit too slow, it is clear that we need to slow life down ourselves and our expectations . We all need to turn more to Nature, to quiet prayer, and to actual pondering what is happening in us, around us, and even slowly to us.

Wisdom, hope, and truth, the big three, are ours for the asking. We have been gifted by the Trinity. Will we be moving too fast to notice that Presence?

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity June 16 2019

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

A few years ago while visiting a dear friend in 84, Pennsylvania we were confronted with a question that has no practical, logical answer. Our friend, Joanne was a member of the first RCIA class we taught in 1993. In that capacity, perhaps, she thought us capable of answering a question Barbara, a friend of Joanne’s, had asked. It was a simple question. "What was God doing and where was he before the creation of the universe?" The brain-stored logic kicked in and arguments from Aquinas and Aristotle came easily to the lips. As the words spilled out, the judgment part of the brain laughed. The words made sense but only in the same way fairy tales read to children make sense. Metaphysics is philosophy’s attempt to understand the reality in which we move and work. It speaks in terms of essence and being. Seminary training in metaphysics changed forever how we seminarians thought about reality. But pretty much essence and being lingered in the classroom and failed to make it onto streets where people live and love and grow and die.

Where was God? What was God doing back those billions of years ago? What were his thoughts when considering the creation of a material universe? What could have possessed God to think it would be great to create humanity and give its individuals freedom to choose. The outcomes were predictable. But even so God chose to create. Such a decision by the transcendent, divine being we call God is illogical.

There are persons who believe people of faith create God to satisfy their need for answers to unanswerable questions. Those critics of faith in a Transcendent Being speak of religious practices in sacramental liturgies as superstitious practices. In their opinion, such practices are human designs meant to give us comfort in the face of tragedy. Those practices are thought to be attempts to explain unexplainable forces of nature. In time, many think, such practices will disappear as science, technology, and human experience discover the hidden explanations behind what is hidden from consciousness.

As humans we learn from experience. Great teachers connect lessons to experience. In doing so, the lessons find places in memory and impact how we see reality, how we interpret events, and how we relate to others. The Scriptures -- Hebrew, Christian, and other religion’s writings -- are collections of humanity’s experiencing God’s presence. Just as the faith question of where God was and what God was doing before creation can’t be answered from the dimension of human experience, so also we have difficulty in understanding how a creator would allow his creation to deny his existence and his presence. Freedom for humanity is an abiding question.

The three great religions that had their foundation with the patriarch Abraham all insist God is One. Judaism, Islam, and Christianity all insist there is but one God. Islam has a problem with Christianity because Christian faith insists there are three persons in the One God. For many Muslims this is idolatry that trusts in three persons instead of one God. The experience of all three Abrahamic religions is that God is the Creator of all that is. This is not limited to a static universe that is created once and for all. Science and the advance of technology teach us that the universe we thought was created once and for all is in fact expanding with blinding speed. God continues his creative outreach. Just as a skilled artisan’s work tells us a great deal about the person who created the work, so also God’s creative work tells us a great deal about God. We find God in creation, but only if we examine nature in detail and with a great deal of thought. We come to know the Creator Father in creation. But we fail miserably to discover the creator if we abuse, use and dispose of what nature provides. Only if we respect creation can we find the Creator’s fingerprints there.

If we look at the freedom of humanity to choose, we discover another avenue to encountering God among us. Thousands upon thousands of years of human experience brought into human consciousness the reality of the Divine Creator. Those same years, as recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures demonstrate that even those persons who encountered God were capable of terrible deeds. An example is King David. The story of his rise from the slayer of the giant Goliath to an adulterous king is well known. Yet his adultery and the murder of Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba, are evidence of his freedom of choice. In the end, the kingdom he forged fell into two competing, warring nations. There is a problem with freedom. We can choose a variety of good things. Some hold that the Will of God for us is a single good thing. That would be the work of a controlling God. God provides as many possibilities for good choices as the mind of God an conceive. We are truly free to choose among many possibilities that are good. But we can also choose actions and thoughts that erode our freedom. Bad choices often result in addictions and disease. Repeated bad choices rob our persons of a vision of goodness we need to choose well. That is the pernicious nature of sin. It steals our freedom and enslaves us to the evil one.

When God entered the world in the person of Jesus we learn of another of the three persons. This Jesus proved he was human as we are human. He was a baby, a teen-ager, a young man with a skilled trade with which to earn a living. When he began his mission as the Incarnated Son of God, his preaching and his healing were about freeing humanity of its addictions to the ways of the world. For the ways of the world are truly addictive and erode our freedom to choose what is good. The ways of the world are self-centered and ruinous of positive relationships with others and the rest of creation. This Son of God and Son of Man is an example of how to live. And even how it is we can die. For his very life – as an infant, a child, an adolescent, a young tradesman, and the adult healer and teacher – his very life is an example for us. He demonstrated and lived the life of God within creation. We are destined to rise from our death to creation at the end of our human living and rise to a share in the life of God in eternity. That is the truth of his ministry, his passion, his death, his resurrection and ascension. The last supper instituted a new food and drink for us. That food and drink nourishes us, heals us, and unites us each to one another here on earth and to those who have already passed on to eternity. In his final prayers before his capture and trial he prays to the Father Creator. His prayer is that we all – every one of us – may be one in him as he is one with the Father Creator. The living Jesus describes human life in terms of serving others with love and compassion, mercy and forgiveness. Such human living leads to fullness of individual potential and is the foundation for happiness and peace. In his life, his teaching, and his healing we come to understand God as compassionate, as merciful, and as forgiving. Jesus’ example is our guide to growing in a sharing of God’s life.

When Jesus said his earthly farewells to his disciples he promised to send an advocate. An advocate is one who mentors, who defends, who guides and leads to great choices. With the event recorded in the Acts of the Apostles as the coming of the Holy Spirit we see another aspect of God. The Spirit comes in the form of a great wind, sweeping away the dust of time, disturbing and moving things that are not solid, not essential. It is written that a ball of flame parted into tongues of fire coming to rest over the head of each disciple. Fire excites, purifies, and provides heat and light. Fire transforms. The coming of the Advocate sweeps through the city and through the people gathered in the city for the great festival of Pentecost. There were persons there from every land, nation, and language. Each heard the message of good news in their tongue. The Spirit reached out to all persons in the entire world. Everything is renewed. Everything has a renewed appearance and a new purpose and meaning. This new light the Spirit is an explosion of the glory of God. The word "Glory" is code for presence. Where God is present, there is light, there is hope, and there is unity. That is true glory.

We can’t define God. We write this fully aware that St. John in his Letters defines God as love. Perhaps that’s the easiest way of describing the Trinity. For the Trinity is a community of three persons. That community of three is bound together so tightly that there is no distance among them. There is one purpose, one meaning, and one life. The unity is so complete and so all embracing that we see only One God.

This is the insight we receive from the gift of faith. Faith is a gift over which we have no command. It is freely given by the Advocate to the deserving equally as well to the undeserving. What we do with that faith is our responsibility. If we nourish that faith through liturgy and through personal prayer, our relationship with each other is enriched, begins to burn with the fire of the Spirit. The ways of the world are swept away as with a new broom with the debris and dust in a home. Yes, we insist; our relationship with each other is essential to the living of faith. If we hate, if we do violence, if we disparage others: if we harm and abuse others or creation itself, then we undercut, we dissipate the energy that is faith.

Perhaps it would be helpful to take some time to study the document written by St. John Paul II. It is titled "Faith and Reason" (in Latin "Fides et Ratio"). That document studies how faith and rationality – science and technology – work hand-in-glove. It helps with Joanne’s and Barbara’s question. It responds by an act of faith: and in the words of the apostles "eye has not seen nor ear heard what God has ready for those who love him."

May it be so!

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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GOD IS ONE AND GOD IS THREE: CELEBRATING THE TRINITY

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 seach 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 the Father to the sun in the sky, the Son to its rays, and the Spirit 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 for ever 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 own 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 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 1960's 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, to draw us out of ourselves, to challenge and comfort us, and to 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 visitors. 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, and 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. The God who loves us. The God who understands us. The God who forgives us. The God who keeps us going. The God who finally takes us to Godself.

This is what we are celebrating in our feast of the Trinity. This is why we are giving praise and thanks to God in this Eucharist. 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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Paul O'Reilly <fatbaldnproud@opalityone.net>

 

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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.

 

-- Fr. John
 


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