Sunday, June 03, 2007

R.I. Catholics and the Holy Trinity

(Trinity Sunday-Year C; This homily was given 2 & 3 June, 2007, at Our Lady of Mercy, East Greenwich, R.I.; read Proverbs 8:22-31 & Romans 5:1-5)

Just the other day I was able to talk with our Third Graders next door at the school, to take some time for questions and answers. They asked me a question that almost always seems to come up on those occasions:

“Father, what exactly do you do all day?”

You would think that after three years I would have a clear answer to that question! Actually, each day can be so different that it is not so easy to summarize what an “average” day is like for a priest.

Nonetheless, I was reminded of a conversation that my sister had with one of her friends while I was still a seminarian. Her friend said to her: “You brother is going to be a priest, isn’t he?” After my sister answered in the affirmative, her friend went on to say:

“You know, those guys have it made. They say a couple of Masses on the weekend, and then they do absolutely nothing all week long.”

Well, that is certainly not what I do all day! But today, on this Trinity Sunday, as we celebrate the mystery of God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—we can ask ourselves: What about God? What does He do all day?

Theologians tell us that, for certain, God does one thing from all eternity: He loves. The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father. They love one another totally, completely, truly. Does that sound boring to you? Far from it! The love between the Father and the Son is so powerful, so explosive, so awesome and beautiful, that it is itself another Person: The Holy Spirit.

The Father, Son and Holy Spirit live together, from all eternity, in a communal relationship of total, self-giving love. What does that mean? What does that look like? We would never be able to answer those questions if God had not suddenly chosen to do something completely different, something He had never done.

Our readings for this Trinity Sunday tell us what that “something” is. The Book of Proverbs speaks about how God created the earth; how He delights in that creation and with great love lavishes all that He has upon us. The Wisdom of God says:

I was beside him as his craftsman, and I was his delight day by day, playing before him all the while, playing on the surface of his earth; and I found delight in the human race.
—Proverbs 8:30-31

St. Paul, in our second reading, talks about how God then redeemed us after we had fallen. He talks about Jesus Christ, the Son of God who became man and dwelt among us. It is Jesus Christ who comes to walk through our streets and takes on our burdens, and dies on the cross in our place.

Now we can say with certainty that we know exactly what the love of God looks like. To the question: “What does God do all day?” we need look no further than Jesus Christ.

It is Jesus Christ who comes among His people and proclaims to them the Good News, God’s eternal plan of salvation.

It is Jesus Christ who speaks out boldly for those who are weak and exploited. He is a voice for those who have no voice in this world.

And on every page of the Gospels we find Christ living among ordinary people with extraordinary love.

He even gives His life for us, on the cross and in His body and blood in the Eucharist and in the Sacraments that He institutes in the Church.

Finally, along with the Father, He sends us the Holy Spirit. As St. Paul tells us in the second reading: The love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us (Romans 5:5).

And that is where our lives become intimately connected to this Feast of the Most Holy Trinity. We are not mere spectators or observers of the life of Christ. We do not take Him simply as the most important person in history, and seek to imitate Him.

No, much more than that! Because of the gift of the Holy Spirit—which we celebrated last week at Pentecost—and because of our own baptism, God lives in us. The Holy Spirit lives in us. The power of the Holy Trinity is at work in our lives and in our Church. The very same things we saw in the life of Christ can, and should, be found today in His body, the Church.

I mention that specifically because in this week’s issue of the Rhode Island Catholic—the new name for our old diocesan newspaper—we see all those things taking place in our diocese.

There is an article about the priests in West Warwick and their work of evangelization, reaching out, just like Christ, to those who long for the Good News of God’s plan of salvation.

In several places the voice of the Church speaks out boldly for those who have no voice in this world. Bishop Tobin, in a very clear and distinct manner, speaks out for the unborn and decries the hypocrisy of Catholic politicians who have failed to take a stand against the practice of abortion. On the front page of the Rhode Island Catholic there is an article on Human Trafficking, a huge problem in our state; again, the Church speaking out for the weak and the exploited.

There are many articles about those who—just like Christ—are living among ordinary people with extraordinary love: Kindergarteners, parishioners celebrating their faith, even biker priests!

And finally, there is an article on the four men who were just ordained to the priesthood in our diocese; men who, like Christ, have given their lives for the work of sacrifice and service, and to bring the Gospel and the Body and Blood of Christ to the parishes of our diocese.

This is the power of the Holy Trinity, alive and at work in our diocese. How is God calling each of us to live like that, to become swept up in the power of God and to allow Jesus Christ to live in us, so that when people ask us:

“What do you do all day?”

We can honestly say:

“I am one who is caught up into the very life of the Holy Trinity. God lives in me and I, to the best of my ability, try to love as God loves.”

Because that is what we are called to do all day.
That is what we are called to do everyday.