Trinity Sunday, (May 18, 2008) John 3: 16-18
When I was in the seminary years ago studying theology, we spent a lot of time studying the mystery of the Holy Trinity. At that time I looked at a mystery as something that we couldn’t understand and for that reason I really didn’t give the Trinity all the study time it deserved. Recently I read another definition or description of a mystery that makes more sense to me. A mystery is not something that we are unable to understand but a mystery is something that is endlessly understandable. In other words, it is never going to come to closure or resolution. We are never going to exhaust the mystery. It is always going to be open-ended, capable of further development and understanding.
One of the things that the Trinity of Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit tells us about the Godhead is that God doesn’t exist in isolation but in a community of Persons in relationship with one another. This tells us that God is a giver because part of being in relationship with another is to give. God gives within the Godhead and he also gives “without” or outside of the Godhead. God gives to each of us with whom he is also in relationship. The theologians teach us that our creation is an extension of God being in giving relationship in the Godhead. We know God through God’s creation of us and the world around us and we too are created in relationship to a community of persons that through Baptism becomes the Mystical Body of Christ. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are in relationship with one another and with all of us and the rest of creation.
The readings in today’s Liturgy for this Feast show us that God is a relational God who gives and loves. In the first reading for today from the Book of Exodus, we see God giving us the commandments, his name “Lord,” mercy, kindness, fidelity, and pardon. In the second reading from Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians, God gives us peace, love, his grace and fellowship and then in the Gospel from John he gives us eternal life and salvation. Furthermore, we know from elsewhere in Scripture God’s greatest gift to us: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” All of this happens because God is in the relationship of the Trinity and is thereby a giver. God, thank you for your many wonderful gifts. Where would we be without them?
Monday of the Seventh Week of Ordinary Time, (May 19, 2008) Mark 9: 14-29
Today’s Gospel selection shows us the power of faith. A man brought his son possessed by a mute spirit to Jesus’ disciples and asked them to drive out the demon but they were unable to do so. When Jesus heard this, he told the man to bring the boy to him. The man then asked Jesus to drive out the demon “if you can.” Jesus replied to him: “If you can! Everything is possible to one who has faith.” Then Jesus commanded the demon to come out of the boy who then had a convulsion and appeared to be dead. “But Jesus took him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up.” Yes, everything is possible to one who has faith in Jesus.
We have seen before that it is Jesus who is the Changer, the giver, the one who makes things happen. Not you and not me. A perfect example of this is usually found by people who are addicted to alcohol, drugs, food, gambling, or whatever. They try and try to stop their addictive behavior alone. And it gets worse. But when they finally develop a faith and trust in a Higher Power and ask him to remove it, away it goes. “Bring him to me.” Jesus invites us to bring our demons to him in faith and trust. And when we do this, everything is possible.
Tuesday of the Seventh Week of Ordinary Time, (May 20, Mark 9: 30-37)
“If anyone wants to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”
Service is one of the most prominent values in all the Gospels. And eventually we arrive at the conclusion that Jesus is the greatest Servant of all. Thinking of this reminds me of St. Francis of Assisi’s image of God. In A Letter to the Entire Order, Francis wrote with regard to Christ, the Son of the Living God: “Brothers and Sisters, look at the humility of God and pour out your hearts before Him! Humble yourselves that you may be exalted by Him.” Our God is a humble God. At first it is difficult for us to put the words humble and God together. It just doesn’t sound quite right. But so it is.
As disciples and followers of Jesus, our lot is to be like him, to imitate him, to walk in his footsteps. Therefore, we too must be humble, we too must
serve our brothers and sisters. As we go through our day today, let us be on the look-out for ways to serve our brothers and sisters. I assure you this will add to the happiness and serenity of our day.
Wednesday of the Seventh Week of Ordinary Time, (May 21, 2008) Mark 9: 38-40
In our Gospel selection for today’s Liturgy, it would seem that the disciples had an attitude problem, a prejudice problem. And Jesus corrected them and set them straight. They had the attitude that if anyone “who does not follow us” does anything good, it is bad. Jesus’ answer to this attitude: “No one who performs a mighty deed in my name can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us.” Others who are not followers of Christ in exactly the same way we are but who are followers none the less, are able to do good also.
I just looked up self-righteous in the dictionary because this is what I think is involved here. It is defined as: confident of one’s own righteousness, esp. when smugly moralistic and intolerant of the opinions and behavior of others. I really wish we could gather all the self-righteousness in the world, put it in a big boat, and sink it. We would all be better off.
Thursday of the Seventh Week of Ordinary Time, (May 22, 2008) Mark 9: 41-50
For the most part, our Gospel for today’s Liturgy deals with scandal. Jesus tells us this is not the way to go: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” And he goes on to say that if we should find ourselves doing this, we should cut it out, knock it off, stop it.
All of us have to be on the look out for giving scandal, especially with regard to children (and adults too) who have certain expectations of us. Some people are placed on a pedestal by society and expected to act in a certain way. This would apply, for example, to priests and religious, women, moms and dads, professional people, just to name a few. I kind of disagree
with the pedestal bit but that’s the way it is and there isn’t a whole lot I or anyone else can do about it. I have mentioned before that God blessed me with a mentally handicapped brother and believe me I had to watch my choice of expletives when I was around him or he would quickly let me know that I was out of order. This can be as simple a thing as watching our speed while driving so as not to teach others riding in the car that it is OK to flaunt the law. Let’s all of us reflect today on our actions and see if we can find any possibility of giving scandal to others in them.
Friday of the Seventh Week of Ordinary Time, (May 23, 2008) Mark 10: 1-12
Today’s Gospel is one most homilists would just as soon skip over. Divorce is not a pleasant topic to talk about. Today’s Gospel, however, is dealing with Jesus’ radical interpretation of the law in Scriptural times. In the Jewish society men could divorce their wives for many “valid” reasons. Jesus challenges his listeners to see the holiness and permanency of the marriage covenant and quotes to them the words from the Book of Genesis: “Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”
In our own age, we realize that the divorce rate is very high. Many people are struggling with single-parent homes and we struggle with them and try to support them in their difficult times. Jesus, please be with all your people whatever their state of life may be: single, married, divorced or separated. Keep them close to you and be their guide and helper.
Saturday of the Seventh Week of Ordinary Time, (May 24, 2008) Mark 10: 13-16
“Whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” With these Gospel words we bring to a close another week. St. Mark reminds us all that if we wish to be part of God’s Kingdom both here and in the hereafter, we have a great need for childlike trust and faith. Children follow their parents into the dark or wherever they take them because the children trust them and know they will keep them safe from all harm. The same should be true of us in our relationship with our God. We need to reflect on the fact that we are very dependent on God in our lives.
So many of us think just the opposite. I guess we all do at different times in our lives. We think we are all-knowing, all-powerful and indestructible. I know I did. And I think all of us have to learn through the bumps and failures in life that we are not as independent as we might think. We need God in our lives in order to be happy and content. It’s as simple as that.
Father of us all, so often we get tired and weary of trying to go through life on our own. Be with us and make the rough ways smooth.