Holy Trinity Sunday: And behold, I am with you always until the end of the age (Mt 28:20)

May 30, 2021

My dear friends.  Today, the whole Catholic Church from around the world reflects about the presence of God in our life.  Theology calls God “The Holy Trinity.”  And there are volumes of theology, using philosophical language to try to describe how Jesus, our God in human form, is related to whom Jesus calls His Father and to a Holy Spirit whom Jesus promised to send — who these person are, what they do, and our relationship with them.  These writings are very complicated and they do not speak to our lives.  While they may try to explain the mystery of God, the language used and the philosophical language they are based upon are too theoretical, and often, are over our head, and are very imperial — from a God-king down.

It is important to use our minds, our hearts, and our emotions and our imaginations in our efforts and in our desire to know and to be God’s friend.

Most of us here today come from European roots that have translated a European understanding of Jesus and his message into culture here in the United States that is still developing and changing.

Even the prayers that we use from centuries past are hard to understand, come from Latin and Greek, come from an upper class language from the Middle Ages.  In an effort to use a more holy, sacred, or imperial language, what and how we pray is very different from the way we relate to God in our everyday life.

The Second Vatican Council, as well as Pope Francis, invite us to return to the language of the Scriptures, the message of the Scriptures, and to base our Faith and understanding from them and upon our own experience.

Jesus did not speak the theological language of the fourth century or of the Middle Ages, nor the upper class, educated language of pontifical universities and encyclical papal letters.  Jesus spoke simple Aramaic, perhaps a little Greek of the common person, and the New Testament scriptures have come to us written in the common spoken Greek and Latin of common uneducated people.

On this Feast of the Holy Trinity, we are invited to get in touch with and to be aware of how we imagine God to be, how we relate to God in our daily life, how we find comfort in our relationship with God and how God stretches us to appreciate his presence in simplicity and humility.

Seeking to do God’s will has been a preoccupation with Catholic people for hundreds of years, and church leaders, in their effort to simplify life for simple, uneducated people often produced all kinds of devotions and prayers and activities to do to help.

Catholics are no longer uneducated and unable to think for themselves.  There has been a long history of collusion by civic leaders and church leaders creating a “from the top-down” interpretation of life, often speaking for God and training us to be followers of rule, which place upon us an inferiority complex so that we are waiting for God’s foot to fall upon our life, asking ourselves often, am I offending God, is God going to punish me?

Just yesterday, I had a long car ride to Napa to visit the 98 year old mother of a parishioner, my driver, who still experiences God looking over his shoulder and questioning every one of his motives.

You will notice in today’s Scriptures that the official Church chooses to read around the world use very simple scriptures, the simple words of Jesus and St. Paul to talk about who God is, and our relationship to God.  

The Book of Deuteronomy just talks about the wonder of God speaking to us, actual human words that inspire us, that teaches, that leads us to want to be good human beings.

God, Himself, Herself, Itself (there is no gender in God, because all genders are God) tells us this morning, that speaking to us is the reason, is the proof “That the Lord is God in the heavens above and on the earth below and that there is no other.”  The spirituality and living practice that flows from our listening is that we may live and prosper for a long time while we are on earth.

And we can listen to God speaking to us today in our scripture, and to his wordless presence when we sit quietly in his presence and when we appreciate all that has been made and all in our life we are seeing and listening to the beauty that God has created.

God is not a figment of our imagination or an invention of our need.  No, as we pray in today’s Psalm: “May your kindness be upon us who have put our hope in you.”

St. Paul reminds us that God speaks to our hearts if we take the time to listen, and when we begin to experience ourselves as children of God, we begin to experience God as God truly is — “Abba” — an Aramaic word that means Dad, Daddy or Papa.  By the very experience of being a human being, God has placed his life, his DNA, his spirit in us.  God doesn’t live “out there somewhere.”  He lives in each one of us.

It is we who are not aware of who we are.  Often, it is we who stifle this living presence within us.  Our destiny is a sweet destiny, “we are heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,” St. Paul writes.  At the end of our life, we inherit what Jesus inherited.

And can we imagine Jesus in St. Matthew’s gospel inviting us to share his relationship with his Father with others, to share who Jesus is for us with others, to give testimony to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives to others.

One of the big truths or ideas that Jesus wants us to absorb is in the very last line of today’s Gospel: “And behold, I am with you always until the end of the age.”  But the truth is more than an idea.

If our spirit is connecting to the spirit of God the Father and his relationship with Jesus, there is something beautiful going on in our life.  Life becomes more than activities.  I like very much and think very often of what St. Paul said when speaking to a large group of political and intellectual leaders in Athens, Greece’s imposing acropolis, still standing today. (Acts 17:22-32)

Then Paul stood up at the Areopagus [a rock at the Acropolis] and said:

You Athenians, I see that in every respect you are very religious.

For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed, 

“To an Unknown God.” What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you.

The God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands,

Nor is he served by human hands because he needs anything.  Rather, it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything.

He made from one the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions,

so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for him and find him, though indeed he is not far from any one of us.

For ‘In him we live and move and have our being,’* as even some of your poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’

Since therefore we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the divinity is like an image fashioned from gold, silver, or stone by human art and imagination.

God has overlooked the times of ignorance, but now he demands that all people everywhere repent because he has established a day on which he will ‘judge the world with justice’ through a man he has appointed, and he has provided confirmation for all by raising him from the dead.”

When they heard about resurrection of the dead, some began to scoff, but others said, “We should like to hear you on this some other time.”

And so Paul left them.

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