Sunday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Most Holy Trinity
The doctrine of the Most Holy Trinity, of three persons in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit is, of course, a strict theological mystery. We have spoken before of mystery being a part of God and this idea surely shows this is the case with our God. If we had a God that we could understand fully, in my estimation he would not be God.
The mystery of which we speak involves existence and essence. Existence tells us that a thing is and essence tells us what it is. If one knows both the existence and the essence of something, there is no mystery. With regard to the Trinity and to the other mysteries of our faith, we know of their existence only from Sacred Scripture and even then we will never understand fully their essence, their whatness. They will always remain a mystery to us, at least here on earth. Next Sunday we will celebrate the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus, another mystery. These liturgical feasts celebrating a doctrine rather than an event of salvation were introduced into the Church in the late Middle Ages.
Our Gospel for this Trinity Sunday tells us that the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, will guide the disciples, and us, in the way of all truth. When I hear the word “truth” here, it reminds me of the words of Jesus in John 14:6, that he is the way, the truth and the life. What the Gospel selection for today is telling us, then, is that the Holy Spirit will guide us, lead us, in the ways of Jesus.
When we are working or exercising on a hot summer day, cutting the lawn or playing a round of golf, we stop every now and then for a cold drink of one sort or another. We stop to refresh ourselves. That little prefix “re” before a word means “again.” To refresh ourselves means to make ourselves fresh, new again; we renew ourselves.The Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, can be looked upon as a “re-fresher.” He reminds us, renews us, in the ways of Jesus.
When we pray this prayer in the Church’s Liturgy: Come, Holy Spirit, and fill the hearts of your faithful, we are praying, asking, the Spirit to keep us aware of the values and the message of Jesus. Keeping us aware of the truth of the message of Jesus is an attribute of the Spirit. Truth is reality. It is not delusion. I can count on Jesus’ words as being the truth, the reality that will lead me to happiness, joy, fulfillment, serenity and all the other wonderful things I desire so very much. We know this, but we forget, we get distracted by the many things around us. The Holy Spirit is our Reminder, our Refresher, of the right way to travel.
Come, Holy Spirit, lead us, guide us, in the way of the Father and his Son Jesus, in the way of the Trinity, the way of God.
MONDAY of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
“They will respect my Son.”
In our parable in today’s Gospel selection, the owner of the vineyard leased his vineyard to some really nasty tenants. He had everything ready for them to reap the fruits of the vineyard and they had probably agreed to see to it that he got his share as owner. However, when he sent his servants to obtain his share of the produce of the vineyards, they were beaten up, insulted, manhandled and even killed. They obviously had no respect whatsoever for these servants. Finally, he sent his Son and they had no respect for him either. In fact, they killed him too. Finally, the owner had enough of their shenanigans, put them to death, and gave the vineyard over to others.
This parable is quite obviously a preview of the story of God sending his Son, Jesus, into his vineyard to render to him his fruits as God and the owner of the vineyard. But the tenants, the Jews in this case and all of us in the whole case, did not respect the Son or the Prophets he had sent before the Son. Rather they were treated terribly and killed. No respect, no heed, was shown to any of them.
Many points can be made from this parable. One of them might well be to take a look at our own respect or lack of it for others. This thought reminds me of the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. So often we forget this in dealing with other people. In fact, if I had a nickle for every time I have been disrespectful of someone in my lifetime, I would be very, very rich. We can show disrespect for others by ignoring them, by making fun of them or their ways or ideas, by my criticism of them and by my gossiping about them and destroying their good name and reputation. I believe that if we were pinned down to the truth of it all, we would all believe we should not do this, that we should rather show respect for all as children of the One God.
Today, let us reflect on whether or not we can use a bit of improvement in this area of respecting our neighbor, those with whom we live, and those we come in contact with in so many ways.
TUESDAY of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Memorial of St. Boniface
Today the Church celebrates the Memorial of St. Boniface. Boniface had a desire as a youth to enter the monastic life, but he also desired to be a missionary. The latter desire won out. In 719 he went to Germany to preach the Gospel and has since been called the apostle of Germany. It was there that he was consecrated Bishop and ruled the Diocese of Mainz. His enthusiasm for the Gospel attracted many followers who labored for the Lord in Bavaria, an area covering hundreds of square miles. While preaching the Gospel in the northern part of Frisia he was martyred in 754 by people who had not as yet had any contact at all with Christianity. His body was recovered and taken to Fulda, where it still reposes today.
St. Boniface was one of the greatest missionaries the Church has seen and is especially honored in Germany. He is also widely venerated in England were along with Gregory the Great and Augustine of Canterbury, he is one of the patron saints of the country.
St. Boniface, pray for us.
WEDNESDAY of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
I think our Gospel selection for today urges us to remember that human life is not all about the physical and the material. There is the spiritual side of life also. There is a God and he is part of his creation, part of our daily lives.
Sometimes we get all wrapped up in the material and forget the necessity of the spiritual. And when we do that, we are really going to have difficulties. For example, there are undoubtedly many ways of attaining sobriety for those who suffer from alcoholism and wish to do something about it. Certainly, the 12 Step Program is one of these ways. I know that this Program, when followed faithfully, leads to long term sobriety. It see it happen to people every day. It has worked well for me for 33 years. But this 12 Step Program involves the spiritual. It involves God, a Higher Power. Many who desire sobriety see this Program working for others and come to try it. But when they discover the necessary spiritual part of the Program, they try to ignore it, do it their own way, and try and work the Program without the spiritual element. And it doesn’t take long for them to see that this is not going to work. More often than not, they relapse and are right back where they started. Life is the same way.
We all want to be happy, peacefulled, content, whole, serene. These are the really good things of life. But if we try and get them without God in our lives, without the spiritual, we are spinning our wheels.
THURSDAY of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Today’s Gospel selection builds upon yesterday’s discussion of the necessity of the spiritual in our lives. What is the first of all the commandments? What is of the greatest necessity to attain the happiness and joy in life that I desire? The answer: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. Spiritual all the way!
Luke’s Gospel, as we have indicated many times before, follows this same discussion of the greatest commandment by telling us how to love God in this way and our neighbor as ourselves. In chapter 10, he gives us the story of Martha and Mary and the parable of the Good Samaritan. We love God, we see there, with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength, by listening intently to his every word and then putting it into practice in our lives. And we love our neighbor as ourselves by being compassionate to him/her; by doing all we can to satisfy their desire for happiness and freedom from suffering. When we do these things we are happy ourselves and “not far from the Kingdom of God.”
FRIDAY of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Today’s Gospel carries on the idea of the necessity of the spiritual, of God, in our lives. We are told that “David himself, inspired by the Holy Spirit, said: The Lord said to my lord, “Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies under your feet.” Jesus tells us the Messiah is David’s son and also his Lord. Jesus is also our Lord. He is our Lord, Master, Guide, Leader. We can be led by many things in life, many false gods or lords, such as our own bad habits, greed, alcohol, drugs and so forth. Or we can invite Jesus to be our Lord, King and Ruler.
Lord, you are my Lord, my way, truth and life. Please give me the strength, in the face of all of life’s temptations, to keep it that way.
SATURDAY of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
All week long, reading the 12th chapter of St. Mark, we have seen the necessity of having the spiritual be a part of our lives in one way or another. The Gospel selection for today brings this chapter and theme to an end with Jesus warning against any pretentious religious practices or phoney show of the spiritual. I guess we could say Mark is warning us against playing any games with God. We read elsewhere in the Scriptures: Not every one who says Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he/she who seeks my word and keeps it. Granted we are never going to be perfect. Once again progress is the name of the game. But progress we must make!
Lord, Jesus, help me to follow you in all my actions. Keep me faithful in making progress in your ways.