Sunday, May 26, 2013

Trinity Sunday

Trinity Sunday 2013
Today we give glory and honor to almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Today, and every day, is dedicated to the honor of the Triune God.  At this Mass, and at every Mass, we give honor to God the Father, through his Son, Jesus Christ, in and by the power of the Holy Spirit.  We do well every year when we call to mind this important doctrine and learn to find its importance in our own lives.
As we know, the doctrine of the Trinity is veiled in mystery.  It is exceedingly difficult to talk about.  I can tell you that as a priest, this Sunday’s topic can be quite intimidating.  I have often joked that if anyone talks about the Trinity for more than about 2 minutes that person will say something dumb and slip into heresy.  So, many times when discussing the Trinity people will just say it’s a mystery, then go on talking about something else.  But that is a shame because exploring the mystery of the Trinity reveals a great deal about our own humanity.
In short, we proclaim that from all eternity God lives as a loving communion of persons.  From all eternity the Father is begetting the Son, and that the mutual love between the Father and the Son is the person of the Holy Spirit.  From all eternity there is but one God, one divine nature, one divine substance, but three diverse persons.  From eternity there is unity and diversity, one God—three persons.  What makes this the case is Love.  From eternity the Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Father, the Holy Spirit is the mutual love of Father and Son.  So, there is unity and diversity by, with, and through love.
How does this affect us?  We hear in the first words of the Bible that we were created in God’s own image and likeness.  If we ponder the mystery of God, we can reveal the mysteries of humanity.  We are made in God’s image and likeness, therefore to find our ultimate fulfillment we should live in correspondence to this image.  From eternity, God is a loving communion of persons.  To find our fulfillment we too should seek to live in a loving communion of persons. 
The isolated individual human being does not make sense.  Since we were made in God’s image and likeness we were made for communion.  No wonder, then, that every one of us were born into a family.  It is the family that provides for us that place of communion.  Yet, it is often the case that the family can be a place of tension and turmoil.  There are many threats to the unity of our families today.  But, we can learn from the Trinity, unity and diversity through love.  It is certainly the case that in families there will be a wide diversity of personalities.  I’m the oldest of 11 kids and my mom often remarks that each one of us has a completely different personality.  And that is certainly ok.  This diversity might cause tension or difficulty at times, but through love we are called to unity in our families.  Unity and diversity coexist through love.  This is the lesson we can learn about our humanity by reflecting on the mystery of the Trinity.
I would like to finish by talking about another family: the family of the parish.  Over these last 4 years I have certainly found St. Matt’s to be a loving community of persons.  We come together here as a family.  There is certainly diversity.  We come from diverse backgrounds and have unique stories.  But, we have been united here by our common love for God and for each other.  Truly, St. Matt’s is a place of unity and diversity.  I have been truly blessed to be a part of your families over these last 4 years.  As I depart this week from St. Matt’s I do so with a heavy heart because I have found in St. Matthew’s Parish a loving community of persons, a place I will always call home.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Ascension 2013

Ascension 2013:
Today we celebrate the ascension of the Lord, the day when Jesus went up to heaven.  Now, if we think about this event in the life of Jesus in isolation, it might seem kind of strange.  Why go up to heaven?  Why not stay here on earth?  We could build Jesus a nice palace, we could declare him king of the earth, etc.  If we think of the ascension in isolation it almost seems as though Jesus’ departure leaves us abandoned and alone.
But, of course, we never want to think about this event isolation.  Every year we relive and remember the events of our salvation.  Each year at Christmas we remember that Jesus was born for us, that the king of the universe became a little child so as to bring us salvation.  Then during Lent and up to Good Friday we remember that Jesus suffered and died for us.  He laid down his life as a sacrifice so that the salvation he came to bring might come about.  Afterward, we celebrate the great solemnity of Easter.  We proclaim that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.  Jesus broke the prison bars of death.  But, the story doesn’t end there.  Rather, the ascension completes the cycle.  Jesus returns to his Father today.
So we see God’s plan come to completion today.  The plan goes like this.  The Father so loved the world that he sent us his only begotten Son.  The Word of God comes down from heaven and takes on the human nature.  While here among us, he preaches good news, he instructs us in the ways of holiness, he lays down his life for us, and he destroys death with his resurrection.  And today he returns to his Father.  He is sent from the Father, and today he returns.  But notice one important thing.  When Jesus returns to heaven, he does not leave his humanity behind.  Rather, he takes us with him.  Jesus Christ is fully God and fully human, which means that when he returns to his Father, Jesus takes all of humanity with him. 
Today on this feast of the ascension we see the fullness of God’s plan revealed.  The good news of the gospel is that Jesus Christ truly is the Son of God, he was sent from the Father.  And, he became one of us, so that he might lead us to the Father.  This is good news indeed: all those who believe in Jesus will be united with him forever.  So today’s feast should fill us with joy: where Jesus has gone, we all hope to follow.