Posts Tagged ‘Trinity’

Homily for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity B 2015 (May 31)

May 23, 2015

Homily for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Year B 2015 (May 31)

Jewish worship from the earliest times was distinguished from the thought of other nations by the concept of only one God. In our reading today from the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses summarizes this Jewish belief and makes clear to all his people that there is only one God in heaven or on earth, and that there is no other. This was not the common belief of any of the other nations surrounding them, and so while it may be a concept ingrained in us in our society almost from birth, the cultural milieu in which they lived, the writings, the architecture, the art all around them suggested otherwise.  It was so predominate, in fact, that the history of Israel seems to be the history of a people being tempted and succumbing to the belief in other gods.

Moses tells his people that they are a blessed people, set apart. What other nation has been so honored to hear the voice of God, speaking out of fire. What other nation has been adopted by God, and proven to be so honored by signs, wonders, holy war, and terrifying displays of power as when they were led out of Egypt. Finally, this God has promised them a land, and all they need to do is keep his commandments, commandments which made them more civilized, more sensitive to others, and more holy.

The Psalm today then speaks of the love of this God who has chosen us, and how our soul was created to wait for God, how God is our help and protector. This one true God has made himself known in his creation and in his commandments which raise us up, a similar idea to that which Moses spoke to his people.

Since all of this was true and was the oldest tradition of Israel, imagine how upset traditional believing Jews must have felt with the new idea that Jesus was God. It upsets the whole apple cart! Yet, from the very beginnings of Christianity we see this belief that Jesus was indeed God made human. How is this possible? Then it is further complicated, perhaps, by the coming of the Holy Spirit who is also ascribed to be God.

In our second reading from Paul written even before the Gospels we hear the term Spirit of God when Paul says: All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons and daughters of God, and he speaks of the glorification of Christ, a term that refers to a God-like status. And in the Gospels, Matthew today puts it all together when he tells the Apostles to go out baptizing “in the name of the Father, and of the on and of the Holy Spirit.”

This Trinitarian concept has been around since the advent of Christianity despite the fact that it seems to abandon the earliest Jewish beliefs – and these are all Jews who were writing, remember! From earliest times theologians have tried to explain the concept of Trinity and the belief in the one true God. The bottom line: it is really not explainable!  We can get glimpses of ideas about it, and theologians have come up with theories of three persons in one God – and we intact state those beliefs each week in our Creed, but they are really quite inadequate because they are beyond our total comprehension. The best we can probably do is exactly what the earliest disciples did – pray to one God through the terms which Jesus gave us: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Probably not many of us question this because it has been such a part of our Christian heritage, most of us just accept it, realize that it is a mystery, and move on. A few others will contemplate some of the metaphors used in the pst to help our understanding, like the shamrock, perhaps, but it is just that – a small help

So what is important about this Feast today and important to our lives. Jesus once said: No one comes to the Father, except through him. I know that for centuries this has been interpreted as only Catholics get to heaven, but I don’t think it means that at all. I think it means that no one comes to an understanding of the God the Father, except by looking at Jesus and how he lived and what he did and what he said. Jesus is God made visible, so if we look at Jesus carefully and imitate his life to the best of our ability, we can move to be perfect as God is perfect.And what help do we have to do that? The Spirit, first described in the Bible as God’s breath or the wind over the waters, provides the impetus to know God. Again, our Psalm 33 today tells us that “Our soul waits for the Lord”. There is something deep inside each of us that wants to know God, that needs to know God, that aches to understand God and the meaning of life. To know God, we have to know Jesus whose humanity was not just a metaphor but an actuality. He is the example of the human who led a life of perfection. To imitate him is to know God, and it is the best we can do until we die and are able to know God intimately and perhaps even understand the great mysteries which elude us now.

Let us pray that this week’s emphasis on the Trinity in our lives can bring us to living our lives on the road that leads to perfection through imitation of the God-man Jesus, and the through the inspiration and persistency of God’s spirit.

And that is the Good News that was preached from the very beginning of the Christian era of the one, true God, the God of our fathers and mothers.

Bishop Ron Stephens

Pastor of St. Andrew’s Parish in Warrenton, VA

The Catholic Apostolic Church in North America (CACINA)

[You can purchase a complete Cycle A and Cycle B of Bishop Ron’s homilies, one for every Sunday and Feast, from amazon.com for $9.99 – “Teaching the Church Year”]

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Homily for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Year A 2014

June 8, 2014

Homily for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Year A  2014

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity is a feast to remind us of the concept of God being three persons, a difficult concept to understand, one which developed in Christian thought over the first 300 years of Christianity. It is a mystery, and I am not quite sure we can ever really understand it it. It began as an attempt by the early Christian Jews to understand how their belief, and indeed the core belief that set them apart from other nations, that there was one God, and one God alone, could be reconciled with the fact that Jesus identified himself with God, yet still spoke of God as outside himself – as a Father. The doctrine of the Trinity was not spelled out, but was pretty much in place in the minds of early Christians by the time John wrote his Gospel sometime late in the first century.

When we read the Bible backwards, that is, when we read it knowing how it ended, we can sometimes see references which at the time they were written may not have made sense, or made sense in describing a particular incident, but with our insight into what actually happened, can be seen as a Christian reference. A good example of this may be the first reading today from Exodus. The incident being told is fairly simple. God had made a covenant with Moses and given him two tablets – what we call today the 10 commandments. When Moses came down from the mountain and saw the people worshipping false gods, he broke the tablets in his anger. At the start of today’s reading Moses is called by God to return to the mountain with two new blank stone tablets, which Moses does early in the day, and there God appears and rewrites the words on the new tablets. It is the description of God’s appearance that can be read backwards. God descended in a cloud and appeared as Adonai or Lord. Could this possibly be a description of Christ whom we now call Lord. “The Lord passed before Moses, and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. And Moses…worshipped.” These are words that could easily have come out of Jesus’ mouth in the New Testament when he describes his Father. The reading from Exodus was chosen today, then, as a possible early reference to Christ as God when we read backwards.

The letters of St. Paul pre-date the Gospels, so they are the earliest Christian writings that we have. In the letter to the Corinthians today we have one of the earliest references to the Trinity, and the words we can use to start Mass each week: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”

The section of the Gospel of John we read today is probably the most quoted verses in the whole Bible, so often repeated that we may take them for granted or not really hear them any more. But these words reflect the relationship between the Father and the Son, and also gives us a definition of what love really is. First of all “God so loved the world…” We often forget that God created everything and it was all good, and that God loved what he had created. That love is always expressed in action – in doing – much as was the act of creation itself. Our God is an active God – a doer. When his creatures sinned and lost the paradise of goodness that God had created, God did not stop loving but actively sought a way to save the world that was so loved. By taking on our humanity, God offered himself to us through the physical reality of Jesus, to be the sacrifice that would save his beloved creatures and give them back eternal life. David Stern expresses it this way in his commentary on this verse: “to love is to give, to love much is to give much, and God loves the world so much that he gave what is most precious to him.”

The condemnation of the one who does not believe might be looked upon, not as a condemnation of non-believers necessarily, but as a condemnation of people who put all their belief in themselves. The condemnation here is that that person is already not living a life that is fully God-filled. Those who put their trust in Jesus will have a full life right here and now, and also will have a full life in eternity: “everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.”

What can we draw from these readings that we can use this week in our own lives? Hopefully, we can renew our belief and our slight understanding of the Trinity, knowing fully that God loves us, loves us so much, that God the Father  offered up his most precious thing for us, his child. We need to remember that when we pray to God the Father, or to Jesus or to the Spirit, that we pray to only one thing – to a just and merciful God who loves us despite our failings. We need to remember that Jesus is the physical manifestation of God and when we partake of the Eucharist, we partake of God. God truly is in us, and that is why we are not condemned and why we have eternal life. Let us see ourselves and our neighbor as physical manifestations of God and treat them accordingly. It is what Jesus would have us do.

FInally, Fathers who are present today on this Father’s Day know what it means to be a loving parent, know what it means to be hurt by their children and yet continue to love them. The description of God in Exodus as merciful, gracious, slow to anger, loving and faithful, should be the description of every Father. We know it sometimes isn’t but that is what we should strive for. Jesus said “Be perfect even as your heavenly father is perfect”. God the Father is our model on this Father’s Day – a Father who would give up everything out of love for his child.

Let us honor our own Fathers today, living and dead, and go out and proclaim the Good News that God is the Father of all Fathers and that he is active and present in the world today. And this is the Good News to take with us today!

Bishop Ron Stephens 

Pastor of St. Andrew’s Parish in Warrenton, VA

The Catholic Apostolic Church in North America (CACINA)

 1 David H. Stern. Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, MD, 1992. p. 166

[You can purchase a complete Cycle A of Bishop Ron’s homilies, 75 of them, from amazon.com for $9.99 – “Teaching the Church Year”]