Thursday: 10th Week In Ordinary Time: Year A - Matthew 5:20-26
Imagine a world where all your best friends live in the same neighborhood, where everything they ever wanted to do or be is right there, waiting for them. You could all stay in the same location.
You could all travel together, to places you'd all enjoy. You might split off for a while here or there, but you'd always come back to each other. If you wanted to visit each other, imagine there being special meeting places for each of you, all in your neighborhood, and no more than a mile or so away. Not 5000 miles.
Imagine no wars. Imagine peace. No electronics. Always acoustic guitars, always singing, always gathering together each day.
Imagine everyone learning from everyone, teaching. Good things, always good things. Imagine if kindness, love, caring, honesty, gentleness, laughter, hugging, smiling, friendship, were the only things all people ever knew.
Teamwork. No government. When making a decision, people thrived on the virtue of fairness, and everyone, of one accord, chose what was really best for all.
Imagine immortality. No pain, grief, or suffering.
Imagine no racism, hate or greed.
Imagine saying, "What a wonderful world!" and truly meaning it.
Remember the warmest hug you've ever gotten, and you will have love.
The most genuine good thing someone has ever said to you, and you will have kindness.
Imagine sharing the spotlight with your friends, being in it together, and you will have fairness.
Remember that we are all human, and you will have equality.
Sing together, you'll have unity.
Keep doing good little things for someone, and you'll build trust.
"The secret to a genuinely peaceful world is within us.
We can make it so, if we all start now.
Right now, pledge to do acts of kindness each and every day
Be gentle, kind, caring, and loving
Always smile. Laugh!
Learn. Teach. Above all, be patient.
Share, be part of a team, and be fair.
Listen. Sing. Play. Be the music.
Remember the ultimate goal of true unity...
And the world will live as one."
Trinity signifies unity in eternity. This is what we all long. But our life, that is practical life does not seem to help this unity. The root of the word "Trinity" originates from the Latin word "trini" which means "three each," or "threefold." "The term has been used as early as the days of Tertullian (200 A.D.) to denote the central doctrine of the Christian religion. God, who is one and unique in His infinite substance or nature, or Godhead, is three really distinct Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Each of these Persons is truly the same God, and has all His infinite perfections, yet He is really distinct from each of the other Persons. The one and only God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; yet God the Father is not God the Son, but begets the Son eternally, as the Son is eternally begotten. The Holy Ghost is neither the Father nor the Son, but a distinct Person having His Divine nature from the Father and the Son by eternal procession."
In other words, in Jesus dwells the Father and the Holy Spirit. And the same can be said about the Father and the Holy Spirit. In each one dwells the other two Persons of God. This truth is supported by a verse in The Letter of Paul to the Colossians. "In Him (Jesus) all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell bodily." (Col. 1.19; 2.9) "All the fullness of God means the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The next question that some may ask is, "Are there any biblical passages to support that in the fullness of God, there are Three distinct Persons?" The answer to this is "Yes!" We can quote the closing of the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus told His disciples, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..." (Mt. 28.18) And we can quote the closing words of St. Paul in the Second Letter to the Corinthians where He states, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you." (2 Cor. 13.13) These biblical passages affirm that while there is One God, there are Three distinct Persons in the Godhead.
God created us and loved us enough to give himself to us. He rejoices in seeing the world filled with his love working through us. The Father is the Creator. The Gift of Himself is the Son. The love that fills the world is the Spirit.
The theologian who best presented God as love was St. Augustine. St. Augustine put it this way. the Father is the One who Loves. The Son is the One who is Loved. The Spirit is the very act of Loving. The Fr. Joe simplification of this for the young people and for himself is that God is love in every possible use of the word. He is the Subject Love, he is the Object love, and he is the verb Love.
Let me read for you the most beautiful passages from St. Augustine's Confessions.
“Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new. late have I loved you. You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my un-loveliness (I guess he means selfishness), I plunged into the things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all. You called. you shouted. You broke my deafness. You flashed. You shone. You dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you; now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me and I burned for your peace.”
And the most famous passage from St. Augustine.
It is you who move us to delight in your praise. For you have made us for yourself. and our heart is restless until it rest in you.
The essence of God is Love. And we human beings are made in his image. We are integral, whole, when we give ourselves over to God's love. We reflect our very nature and are at peace with the world when we take a step away from our own selfish drives and trust ourselves into the hands of sacrificial love.
Can we describe God? Down through the ages preachers have asked this question; and never more than on this Trinity Sunday, when we preachers have the task of explaining what it means to say that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
A story beloved of preachers tells of how the great fifth-century North African bishop St. Augustine strolled along the shore of the Mediterranean wondering how to explain the Trinity. As he did so, he saw a little girl going back and forth into the sea, filling a small bucket with water which she poured into a hole she had dug in the sand. “What are you doing, dear?” St. Augustine asked. “I’m trying to empty the sea into this hole,” the child replied. “How do you think that with your little bucket you can possibly empty this immense ocean into this tiny hole?” Augustine countered. To which the girl replied. “And how do you, with your small head, think you can comprehend the immensity of God?” No sooner had the girl spoken these words than she disappeared.
The story contains an important truth. God is a mystery. not in the sense that we can understand nothing about God; but that what we can understand is always less than what we cannot. Pope Benedict, who has a special love for St. Augustine, has put the little girl’s shell into his coat of arms as a reminder that God is always shrouded in mystery. One thing we can understand is how people have experienced God.
Our first reading shows us Moses experiencing God in a cloud — a symbol of mystery, for in a cloud we cannot see clearly. The same divine cloud appears at Jesus’ Transfiguration, when his clothes and face shone with heavenly light. A cloud enveloped Jesus at his Ascension. At the Transfiguration Peter, James, and John experienced fear, and bowed down in worship. Moses does the same in our first reading. The witnesses to Jesus’ Ascension also bowed down in worship. This is the first way people experience God in the Bible. as the utterly Other, whose presence inspires awe and worship.
At the very moment, however, in which Moses was worshiping the true God atop Mount Sinai, his people below were bowing down in worship to a golden calf. a deity of their own devising, who made no demands upon them; who symbolized a superhuman virility and power which, the people vainly imagined, they could harness to their own ends. This is idolatry — for the Bible one of the worst sins there is. We become guilty of idolatry whenever we suppose that prayer and other religious practices give us access to some supernatural power which we can turn on or off like the light switch; which we can use to get whatever we want. God always hears and answers prayer. But he does so in sovereign freedom. not at the time, or in the way that we want — or think we can dictate. God is never at our disposal. We are at his disposal.
God’s appearance to Moses at the very moment when Moses’ people were committing the ultimate sin of idolatry shows that God is not only mysterious and fearful. He is also tender and compassionate. He is a God of love. This is how Jesus experienced God. Our gospel reading reflects this experience. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish, but might have eternal life.”
Jesus devoted the whole of his early life to helping people experience God’s love. He demonstrated this love through deeds of compassion. He illustrated God’s love through stories still told and pondered twenty centuries later. And on Calvary he gave us the supreme example of love.
Following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, his friends came to realize that he had not left them. He was still with them, though the manner of his presence was different. They recalled that Jesus had foretold this.
“I will not leave you orphans. I will come back to you” (Jn. 14.18).
“I will ask the Father and he will give you another to be your Advocate, who will be with you forever — the Spirit of truth” (Jn. 14.15).
“I shall see you again; then your hearts will rejoice with a joy no one can take from you” (Jn. 16.22). This joy at Jesus’ continuing presence is the third way people experience God.
Pondering these three ways in which people experienced God, the Church developed the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. The God who is one is also three. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is the description, in formal religious language, of how we experience God. He is the utterly Other, who inspires awe and worship. But he is also a God of love, a love so amazing, so divine, so undeserved by sinners like ourselves that he kindles within us an answering love. love for God, love for our fellow humans. And whenever we experience God in either of these ways — as the almighty creator and Father of the universe whose presence inspires awe, or in his Son Jesus in whom we see unconditional love in human form — we are experiencing God in and through the power of his Holy Spirit. The Spirit is God at work in our world, and in our hearts and minds, here and now. The Spirit is God’s love. the love exchanged between Father and Son, the love poured into our hearts — not just to give us a warm feeling inside, but to share with others.
Our second reading, finally, speaks about this sharing. “Encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.”
The little girl’s words to St. Augustine are true. God is too immense to get into our small heads. But the threefold experience of God is within the reach of all, even of children. God discloses himself to us in these three ways to lift our eyes from earth to heaven; to make us, through the power of the Holy Spirit, what Jesus was and is. channels and instruments through whom heaven comes down to earth.
The Trinity Sunday must evoke in us the sense of unity in our families and institutions. If there is no unity all that happens in and around us will not have any meaning for us. Hence, we must try our best to dialogue, set goals to promote love peace and joy and harmony.
Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD
Vancouver - Canada