THE FEAST OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY, May 30
John 16: 12-15
On this Sunday of Ordinary Time, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, one of the strict theological mysteries. It is impossible for us to determine how there can possibly be Three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit in One God. And yet, following the views of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, we take this mystery and delve into what it could possibly mean for us in a practical way in our daily lives.
The first thing that came to my mind in considering this mystery was that everything that exists, exists in relation to something else. Nothing exists solely for itself or by itself. This is the way God created everything that exists – and I see it as fitting that God has the same makeup and exists accordingly. And God, even though he exists in relation as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is One God. Because God is One in relation, God is perfect. Each relationship is equal in every way. Human beings always remain many in relationship and are never one, although that is what we strive to be. Husband and wife, in what is perhaps the closest of human relationships, are nonetheless divided and separate, even though Genesis speaks of them as being “two in one flesh.” Human nature strives for unity because it sees this as perfection. God is perfect. God is one. We are not. God is perfect because he is one. We will never be completely one and will always remain imperfect.
Ever just sit and let your mind doodle along thinking about something or other? I invite you to join my doodlings above about the Trinity. All of the doodling in the last paragraph is true, I believe. But is there anything practical there?
I see several practical things coming out of the doodling. First of all, humankind desires unity. We desire it but we will never have it completely, in toto. This is why we argue and try to convince others to think the way we are thinking and to do things the way we do things.
Secondly, because we see unity, oneness, as being good and perfect, it is wrong for us to be or act selfishly. We have seen before that being selfish is how we all start out in life as babies, but soon we realize we are in relation with others and then we realize the goodness of unity and begin to strive for it by doing away with personal selfishness, or at least trying to.
And thirdly, we get rid of our selfishness mainly by doing things for others and serving them. It is in serving others that we come closest to being one with them. Human beings strive to return to their Creator, or so I have read many times. And if God is three relationships in one, we will strive for unity in our relationships.
I hope this doodling makes some sense to you. Remember we are dealing with an unsolvable mystery. In any event, this is what comes to my mind this year as we celebrate the Feast of the Trinity.
FEAST OF THE VISITATION OF MARY, May 31
Luke 1: 39-56
I just spent about an hour going on line and looking through various Commentaries on the Scriptures trying to determine the practical meaning and purpose of John the Baptist leaping in the womb of his mother, Elizabeth. What does this mean? Why did it happen? Why is it mentioned in the Scriptures? I really didn’t find too much to help answer these questions. One opinion stated that this means John was at that moment cleansed from original sin. Another says it in no may means this nor does it mean that John had the use of reason while still in the womb. One explanation that appeared a couple of times was the significance that John was subservient to Jesus and not the other way around. This seems to be the main reason for the leaping, but it really doesn’t do a whole lot to satisfy my curiosity. I still don’t think I know the meaning of this leaping in the womb.
The word Visitation in Canon Law has a business-like meaning attached to it. It is not just a simple visit to say HI to everyone. There is a definite purpose in mind when the Provincial or General visitates a house of Friars. The Visitator checks the books, the common life of the Friary, and so on. Could it simply be that Mary recognized the fact that Elizabeth in her old-age would need extra help with a pregnancy and went to give her this help? I’ll just bet you this reason is closer to the truth for Mary’s visitation than some of the others I have read.
Mary, with concerns of her own at being chosen the Mother of the Redeemer, nevertheless thinks also of her aging cousin and goes to help her. This is a good point for us to remember. Just because we have things to do doesn’t exempt us from helping others bear their burdens. Let this Feast of the Visitation of Mary remind us to pay attention to the needs of others and not to be totally absorbed in our own problems.
Tuesday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time, June 1
Mark 12: 13-17
Every time I read this Gospel chosen for today’s Liturgy, I always kind of secretly wish I had the wherewithal to come up with clever answers like Jesus. His answer to the Pharisees is a gem! But Jesus is not really trying to be clever here. His use of the word “image” in his question to the Pharisees, “Whose image and inscription is this (on the coin),” reminds his listeners of the important verse in the Book of Genesis (1:27) where we read, “God created human beings in God’s image.” Jesus is really telling the people that it is Caesar’s image on the coin they are showing him, but it is Jesus’ image that is in each and every human being. This also reflects the scriptural idea that whatever we do for the least of our sisters or brothers, we are doing for Christ. We are all created in God’s image no matter who or what we are.
Lord, help us to truly realize this universal truth in all of our daily dealings with our neighbor.
Wednesday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time, June 2
Mark 12: 18-27
The whole idea of this Gospel for today’s Liturgy is to show just how ridiculous the Sadducees thought the teachings on the immortality and resurrection from the dead were to them. They flat out didn’t believe in these things and, as we have indicated before, they were putting too much emphasis on the things they could see and not on the things of faith and hope despite good solid reasons for doing so.
Jesus steers them in the direction of the Scriptures and the power of God. If we believe that God has the power to create life (as we read in Genesis) what is so out of line in saying he should also have the power to re-create it? Jesus did this repeatedly in the Gospels dealing with healing and restoring life. Other stories, like the Transfiguration, show people who were dead for a long time now fully alive again (Elijah and Moses). Why shouldn’t Jesus and we ourselves through his grace and power be able to experience immortality and resurrection? Indeed, he informs the Sadducees, “you are greatly misled.”
Thursday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time, June 3
St. Charles Lwanga and Companions
Let us pray: Martyrs of Uganda, pray for the faith where it is a danger for those who embrace it and for Christians everywhere who must suffer for their faith. Give them the same courage, zeal and joy you showed. Help those of us who live in places where Christianity is accepted to remain aware of the persecutions in other parts of the world. Amen.
Around the year 1880, The White Fathers had been in Uganda for only 6 years, but in that short time they had built up a sizeable number of converts to the faith. These in turn soon began instructing others. The ruler in their area of Uganda was a certain King Mwanga, a violent man and a pedophile who forced himself on the young men and boys who served as his pages and attendants. When he killed a Protestant missionary and his companions, Joseph Mkasa, the leader of the Christian converts, confronted the king and then was put to death himself.
Charles Lwanga took Joseph’s place, and when the king found out he was continuing to give others instructions in the faith, he was again in a rage. He gathered the Christians before him and asked them if they were Christians and intended to remain so. When they all answered “Yes,” Mwanga condemned them all to death. On June 3, 1885, 22 of them were burned to death. The White Fathers were expelled from Uganda, but after Msanga’s death they returned and found 500 Christians and 1000 Catechumens waiting for them.
Holy Martyrs of Uganda, pray for us.
Friday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time, June 4
Mark 12: 35-37
“The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies under your feet.” David himself calls him “Lord”; so how is he his son?”
A short Gospel today, and what is the purpose contained in it? Jesus is not denying that the Messiah is of the House of David. But he is saying that there is more to Jesus that his human nature, his human side. Jesus is not only human – but more.
The Greek word for Lord used here in the Scriptures is Kurios and this word means God. Jesus, in the Gospel, is not only saying Jesus is descended from the House of David, that he is a son of David, but that he is also God and Son of God.
Jesus is Lord of heaven and earth. He is far more than human. Sometimes I think some of our modern writers forget this.
Saturday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time, June 5
Mark 12: 38-44
The episode of the poor widow detailed in today’s Gospel has several points to make. First of all, it explains Jesus’ anger in chapter 11 of Mark’s Gospel where Jesus cleanses the Temple of the money changers. In the parable for today, we see that Jesus has nothing against the exchange of money in the Temple area per se. What Jesus is angry about is the scribes greed that crept into all this. Today’s Gospel says the “scribes devour the houses of the widows.” That word devour suggests the greed that is influencing the scribes to get all they can from the widows.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus also praises the widow for giving all she had. The same idea of giving all is found in the incident with the young rich man in chapter 10 where Jesus invites him to give all he has to the poor and then come and follow him. The widow, in giving all that she had, further shows that we are to love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind and all our strength that we read in Mark’s exposition of the Great Commandment in chapter 12. The idea behind all of this is that half-measures are going to get us nowhere in showing our love for Jesus, for God. We must give our all.