June 16, 2019
Deacon Bill Hough
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit… This is how Father starts every Mass and is a perfect start today for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.
My wife, Geri, and I were in the same Catholic school when we were young. We were talking about how the nuns taught us from the Baltimore Catechism – a book that was in a question and answer format. We would have to learn the answers for our religion class.
Of course, there were the questions about the Trinity – for instance, “What do we mean by the Trinity? By the Blessed Trinity we mean one and the same God in three Divine Persons”. It would go on to ask if the three Divine Persons are distinct from one another and if they are equal to one another – The answer, of course, is “Yes”.
Then came the best question, “Can we fully understand the Trinity?” The answer is no, it is a supernatural mystery, a truth which we cannot fully understand, but which we firmly believe because we have God’s word for it.
The Church struggled with the theology of the Trinity from the beginning. But with the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople, held in the fourth century, the Church affirmed the doctrine of the Trinity. This is where we get the Nicene Creed, the profession of faith we recite at every Sunday Mass.
Human words will never be enough to describe the Trinity – we have words like “consubstantial with the Father” (de la misma naturaleza del Padre) and the Spirit “proceeds from the Father and the Son”. We need a theologian to really explain these words and even then, we might not fully understand.
But we can come to know the Trinity by the actions of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The mystery of Christ coming into the world is a perfect example. Bishop Robert Barron reminds us that this could only happen if Jesus were sent by the Father as an act of (perfect) love.
He writes that, “The Father and the Son are united in love, and this love is itself the divine life. And thus, there is a spirit, co-equal to the Father and the Son, which is the love shared between them”.
The readings for today were chosen to reveal this love and unity.
In our first reading from Proverbs, we find the wisdom of God – there at the creation of the world – who was the witness of the creative power of God at work.
St. Paul tells the Romans that we Christians can even boast of our afflictions. He explains our source of hope. The love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus makes it clear that everything that the Father has is His. The Spirit then will take from Christ all that is His and will declare to His disciples the things that are coming. The Spirit will invite the disciples into this community of divine relationship – the community of the love and unity of the one God in three persons.
Jesus invites us into that same relationship today.
The word “Trinity” is not found in Scripture but is one of the most important words for us Christians. It is the word the Church uses to describe God Himself. But it is much more than just a single word. It does three things for us.
First it tells us who God is – God the creator of all things, God the Redeemer who gave us His Body and Blood to save us, and God the Advocate who is with us today to guide us to the truth.
Second it tells us what God is – merciful, gracious, slow to anger, rich in kindness and fidelity, and most importantly, a God of unbroken and eternal love.
Third it tells us who we are and how we are required to act. Each of us – every woman and man – is made in the image of God and each of us is called to be like God – to live the divine life. Our relationship with all our brothers and sisters is to be the unconditional love and unity of the Trinity.
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…
June 2, 2019
Fr. Joseph Jacobi
In my homily last Sunday, I spoke about a number of different ways to understand who the Holy Spirit is and what the Holy Spirit does. The Holy Spirit is the love of the Father. The Holy Spirit is the love uniting Father and Son in the unity of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit also reminds us of all Jesus said and did.
The Holy Spirit is the source of unity, the bringer about of unity in times of conflict and division, as seen from the very beginning of the Church at the 1st Church Council in Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit is also the gift of the peace of the Risen Lord. As the Risen Lord breathes on the disciples in that locked upper room, he says, “Peace be with you.” He gives them the Spirit, the gift of peace which the world cannot give.
Today, as we celebrate the wonderful mystery of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ into glory, the Scriptures speak about the Holy Spirit as POWER! In Luke’s Gospel, before the Lord Jesus ascends into heaven, he comforts his disciples by saying they will be “clothed with power from on high.” This language at the end of Luke reminds us of the words of the archangel Gabriel at the beginning of Luke’s Gospel as Mary asks how it will happen that she will be the mother of the Son of God. Gabriel assures the Virgin Mary: “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” (Lk 1:35)
This power of God, this divine power, is given so we can be witnesses to the Risen and Ascended Lord Jesus. How? By the power of the Holy Spirit, we can be the love of God for others. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we can be a source of unity and the very presence of the Lord’s peace in our world.
The Lord Jesus ascends into glory to be seated at the Father’s right hand in heaven, so that the Holy Spirit might descend in power upon the followers of the Lord Jesus. The power of the Spirit draws us home to the Father, for where the Son of God has gone we are called to follow. For by baptism, we have been joined to Him as members of His Body. The Risen Christ is the head of the Body, the Church, so that where the Head has gone before in glory, the Body is called to follow in hope.
In his human body while he walked the earth in 1st century Palestine, Jesus could only be present to a limited number of people. But now, through the powerful gift of the Spirit, He can be present to all people of all places of all times. The most basic “task” of the Holy Spirit is to make the Risen Lord Jesus present. Where the Spirit it, Christ Jesus is. By the Spirit, we are joined to Him as members of the Body are joined to the Head.
By ascending into glory and taken His place at the right hand of the Father in heaven in his glorified human body, the Lord Jesus has taken with him all humanity into heaven. He has shown us the way home.
Nothing and no one else satisfies us except for the fullness of life with God in heaven. For we have been made by God out of love, and to love we are called to return. All of our life on this earth is simply a return home to the God who made us out of love and for love forever. The Lord Jesus has prepared the way for us and shown us our destiny.
The mystery of the Ascension is not something that happened in the past, but by the power of the Spirit is happening now as we join in the procession of humanity back home to the Father’s side.
By the power of the Spirit, we have the strength to make this journey home. Our life in the Spirit is nourished as we process to the altar to be joined to the Risen and Glorified Lord in Holy Communion. As we join in this Communion procession, we come to the Lord Jesus to surrender our lives more completely into His Hands, that He might lead us home by the power of the Spirit.
So that instead of living out of fear, we can live lives of joy. So that instead of holding on to our money and material things, we can share them generously. Because we know that this earth is not our home but our lasting home is with the Triune God in heaven where we will experience the fullness of life.