The Most Holy Trinity Year B – 2015

                           The MOST HOLY TRINITY [B] – 2015

                      Dt 4:32-34, 39-40; Rom8:14-17; Mt 28:16-20
Today we encounter the mystery of all mysteries, the mystery that underlines our faith and our entire spiritual lives. It is a mystery, too great for many people to accept. Many people prefer having a God whom they can understand.    

This celebration of the Solemnity of the Blessed Trinity had started since the 10th century. The idea of the Trinity is not explicitly stated as a doctrine in the Sacred Scriptures. But implicitly it is stated many times.

There was once a story of a Pope who wanted a portrait of God. So he called all the artisans of Rome. He told them that whoever could perfectly portray God on canvas would receive a papal Award.

The artisans gathered inside the Vatican workroom and each one started to paint a portrait of God. They worked on their masterpieces for several months except for one painter named Guiseppe. Being old, Guiseppe would fall asleep in front of his canvas while thinking how he would paint God.

Finally, the time came when the Pope would judge their paintings. His Holiness toured the large gallery and looked at each painting beside its artist. God was represented in many ways: an Old Loving Man, a Shepherd, a King on a Throne, a Crucified, a Dove and several other ways. 

Yet to the surprise of all, the Pope was not satisfied with any of the portrait. While the Pope rested, on a corner he heard Guiseppe snoring in front of his canvas. He went to the old painter and saw the empty canvas in front of him.

“This is it!” the Pope exclaimed, ‘this is the perfect portrayal of God.” The cardinals, bishops and all the artisans gathered around His Holiness holding the canvas with nothing painted on it.
“Your holiness, the canvas is empty and it has no portrait of God,” the cardinals told him. “Exactly,” the Pope said, “that is how God looks like – Indescribable!”

Today is Trinity Sunday. Our Catholic faith teaches us that there is only One God but Three Divine Persons – God the father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit or Three in One! But why it happens this way, One God but Three divine Persons?

To tell you the truth, this mystery of the Blessed Trinity is very difficult to explain. But we can explain this in our own experiential way. By trying to explain this, our own explanation and answer will become another question and that is a mystery! 

We believe the Blessed Trinity through faith and nothing more. This faith has to be realized, embodied and materialized in our concrete lives. And what is that, that makes the life of a Christian so important. 

1) All prayers in the Church begin in the Name of the HolyTrinity  and end glorifying the Trinity.

2) All Sacraments are administered (we are baptized,confirmed,  anointed, our sins are forgiven and our marriage blessed,  our Bishops, priests and deacons ordained) in the name of the Holy Trinity.

3) Church bells ring thrice daily, reminding us to pray to the Holy Trinity.

4) We Bless ourselves, and the priest blesses us, in the name of the Holy Trinity.

Let me try to give you some Biblical proofs: There are only vague and hidden references to the Trinity in the Old Testament. But the New Testament gives clear teachings on the Holy Trinity.
1)At the Annunciation,God the Father sends His angel to Mary, God  the Holy Spirit overshadows her and God the Son becomes incarnate in her womb.

2)At the baptism of Jesus, when the Son receives baptism from John the Baptist, theFather’s Voice is heard and the Holy Spirit appears as a Dove.

3)At the Ascension,Jesus gives the missionary command to his disciples to baptize those who believe, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

InJohn, chapters 15-18, we have a detailed account of Jesus’ teaching of the role of each Person of the Holy Trinity:

1) God the Father creates and provides for His creatures.

2) God the Son redeems us and reconciles us with God.

3) God the Holy Spirit sanctifies us, strengthens us, teaches us and guides us to God.

Trinity Sunday is a good opportunity to pay special attention to what we do and pray every Sunday at Mass so that we realize more deeply that every Sunday is Trinity Sunday.
There was story about a man who was suspected of being out of his mind, climbed a tree. Many were worried about this. So they shouted at him to go down from the tree but he did not. They called the captain of the fire department to convince him to go down but he was not convinced. They called the mayor but it’s hopeless. Finally, they called the old parish priest of that place.

So the old parish priest went to the place and they asked him to make a blessing if in case he will fall down and die. So the priest made the Sign of the Cross. After a while the man went down from the tree and the people were surprised why it happened that way.

They asked the priest how he was able to convince the man to come down by making the Sign of the Cross. The priest told them: “No, I did not convince the person to come down. I just said, ‘If you will not go down (tracing a vertical line), I will cut this tree (tracing a horizontal line in the air). After that he came down.”

The early Christians discovered later that they simply could not speak of God without speaking of the three ways in which He had revealed Himself to them. This does not mean that there are three Gods. It means that there is only One God who has shown Himself in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Thomas Edison, the inventor, once remarked: “We don’t know what water is. We don’t know what light is. We don’t know what electricity is. We don’t know what heat is. We have a lot of hypotheses about these things, but that is all. 

But we don’t let our ignorance about these things deprive us of their use.” The truth of that statement is real. Most of us do not know how an electric light works, how a telephone or a TV works, but this does not prevent us from using them. Let us try to apply the same common sense to our faith in the doctrine of the Trinity. 
Let me end by saying that the doctrine of the Trinity does not attempt to explain God. It only explains to us in a very elemental way what God has revealed to us about himself so far. To describe the tip of the iceberg above the water is not to describe the entire iceberg. 
So we Christians affirm the Trinity, not as an explanation of God, but simply as a way of describing what we know about Him. Let us have the firm conviction that the Trinitarian God abides in us,that He is the Source of our hope, courage and strength and that He is ourfinal destination.
Let us practice the Trinitarian relationship of love and unity in the family relationships of father, mother and children because by Baptism we become children of God and members of God’s Trinitarian family. Amen. 

6th Sunday of Easter Year B – 2015

6th Sunday of Easter Year B – 2015

Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48, 1.Jn. 4:7-10, Jn.15:9-17

Today we thank our mothers, pray for them and honor them by celebrating Mother’s Day and by offering our mothers on the altar of God. As we celebrate Mother’s Day let us remember with gratitude that it is generally our mothers who practice the agape love of Jesus.

Some time ago, there was an article in the Los Angeles Times about Howard Maxwell and his four-year-old daughter, Melinda. As children often do, Melinda developed a fixation on the story of “The Three Little Pigs.” Every time her father came around, Melinda wanted him to read it to her. Well, for adults, a little “Three Little Pigs” goes a long way.

The father, being both modern and inventive, got a tape recorder, recorded the story, and taught Melinda how to turn it on. He thought that had solved his problem. But it lasted less than a day. Soon Melinda came to her father, holding out “The Three Little Pigs” and asking him to read. Somewhat impatiently, the father said, “Melinda, you have the tape recorder, and you know how to turn it on!”

The little girl looked up at her father with her big eyes and said, plaintively, “Yes, daddy, but I can’t sit on its lap!” Of course, what she really wanted was love. That is what we all want, and we never outgrow our need for it. To be valued, to be cared about, to be loved with a love without strings, a love that will always be there for us; I tell you, that is a foundation for our families that is strong enough to build upon.

We have one of the most beautiful passages from the Gospel of John for our reflection today. Jesus gives us his commandment of love. “This is my commandment: Love one another as I have loved you”. Jesus becomes very emotional in this passage. He opens up his heart and talks in plain terms.

Just as a lover says bye to his sweet heart or just as a loving father utters his last words to his beloved children or just as a bosom friend bids good bye to his friend when he goes away to a faraway land… Jesus speaks of his love here. In this small passage he repeats the word “love” nine times. He repeats “remain in love” three times.

Theologians say that this passage is a relationship passage. Almost all the sentences of this passage speak of relationship. “I have loved you”, “abide in my love”, “love one another”, ‘keep my commandment’, ‘lay down one’s life’ etc come again and again in this passage. Indeed a beautiful scene of intense love! Here he elevates the disciples to the status of his friends. The relationship is no more that of master and disciple but that of two intimate friends.

We must not pass over the amazing phrase that Jesus said, “As the Father loved me, I also loved you.” The love between God the Father and God the Son is the power that holds together the universe. The love between the Father and the Son is the Holy Spirit. God is love. So when Jesus says that he loves us, as the Father loves him, he is saying that he loves us unconditionally, completely, perfectly. This fact becomes the most important fact in our lives.

What should our reaction be? Jesus tells us. It should be to remain in his love. How do we do that? Jesus tells us. If we keep his commandments, we will remain in his love. What commandments? The 613 commandments of the Torah are distilled into the 10 commandments.

Jesus simplifies this into the 2 commandments: love God and love your neighbor, which can be combined into the 1 commandment: Love. “This is my commandment,” Jesus says, “love one another as I love you.” So there is this progression of love. The Father loves the Son. The Son loves us as the Father loves him. We love others as the Son loves us.

It was Love that created humanity. And when we had fallen and needed a savior, it was Love that sent us Jesus. It was love that allowed Jesus to offer himself on the Cross. It was love that raised Jesus from the dead. Love is an active power in our world. Love is the measure of every action.

We no longer need the other commandments to guide us away from danger and sin; we only need the commandment to love. Love is our guide through life. We will not go wrong if we deny all selfishness and follow love to the end. Love will never lead us astray.

Jesus commands us to love, and thereby implicitly denies the idea of love as an emotion, a feeling, an experience. He would not command us to feel love, to be in love. That would be impossible. He would not command us to have a particular emotion. Emotions and feelings cannot be commanded. Only actions can be commanded. Love then is an action verb.

What is love then? How does a person do the action of loving another? The action of love is threefold: to see the good in the other, to do good for the other, and to let the other love you. This describes all love, whether of a parent for a child, a husband for a wife, a person for their enemy, or a human for God.

Step one: look and see the good. It is always there. God is good, and everyone whom God made is good. Step two: do good for the other. Jesus taught us how to do this by becoming a servant of the other. Step three: let the other love you, thereby acknowledging the inherent dignity of the other. God lets us love him, and that is our greatest joy.

Mother Teresa was addressing to a group of wealthy suburban men and women and a member in the audience stood and asked, “Mother, you have done so much to make the world a better place. What can we do?” Mother Teresa smiled and said simply, “Love your children.” The questioner looked perplexed and seemed about to speak again.

Mother Teresa continued: “There are other things you can do, but this is the best. Love your children. Love your children as much as you can. Love your children so that they know you love them. Show them that you love them. That is the best.”  We look to our perfect example of love, Jesus Christ. We must love one another as Jesus loved us. God is love.

It was because of love that God sent his only Son. Everything that Jesus Christ did was an act of love. His life was pure love. The supreme moment of that life, and therefore the greatest example of love we possess, was the death of Jesus on the cross for our sins. “No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends.”

We will be the friend of Jesus if we do what he has commanded us. We will be a friend of Jesus if we love him as he loves us. We must love him in every member of his Body, the Church. Jesus has proven his friendship with us. He has told us what the Father told him. He says that we are friends if we do what he has commanded of us. This is reasonable.

St. John tells us in the second reading that what really matters about love is not that we have loved God, but that he has loved us. Love first comes from God. Love is the source of our existence. God loved us into being.

Today as we offer this Mass let us keep in mind that it is a command to love one another. It is not an invitation, a request or an option but a command, an order. Being an order, therefore this calls us for total obedience. Let us love one another without conditions and our model for loving is not the love we see in others but the love of God for us. Amen.

5th Sunday of Easter Year – B – 2015

5th Sunday of Easter Year – B – 2015

Acts 9:26-31, 1.Jn.3:18-24, Jn.15:1-8

THE STORY is told about a mother who said: “My married life has been like the mysteries of the rosary. When we were newly married, it was joyful. When my husband’s vices came out, it was sorrowful. When he died, it was glorious. And now I am single again, it is light and luminous!”

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells His disciples, “Remain in me, as I remain in you.” This is the secret of perseverance and endurance: To remain in God, no matter what. Whatever “mysteries” we go through in life, if we hold on to the Lord, we will continue to live, grow and, yes, bear fruit.

It is easy to hold on to the Lord in joyful, glorious, and light moments, but all the more we should hold on to Him on our sorrowful moments. In fact, there’s only the Lord to really hold on to at such moments. Instead of letting go of God, we must hold on to Him and not succumb to misery, despair and hopelessness.

It is not enough to just exist. We must grow, and persist. Somebody once compared a Christian to a basketball player. “To be a good player,” he said, “it’s not enough that you know how to dribble or avoid getting fouls. What matters most is to be able to shoot, to make points and to be productive.”

Yes, we must remain in God and bear fruit. We must not just be living branches. We must be fruit-bearing branches. For those who are still alive, and who perhaps are living abundant lives, the question remains: Am I living a fruitful life? Have others benefited from my life? Ask anyone who has been “pruned,” and he/she will tell you how difficult it is to accept it in the beginning.

“Why?” “Why me?” “Why now?” These are the questions that are usually raised, and many times, there are no answers. Right away, anyway. And so, one can put up a fight and say “Unfair!” or one can stay still and say, “OK, Lord, I trust you. Prune me!” The sooner we say the latter, the sooner the healing and the moving on.

“Why me? I am a good person? Why do I receive these trials and sufferings?” Perhaps the answer to this age-old question can be answered by Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel: “He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does He prunes so that it bears more fruit.”

Last Sunday, we heard of the image of Jesus as Good Shepherd. Today, we hear another image of Jesus, that is, the vine. The Old Testament literature often speaks of the people of Israel as God’s vineyard producing sour grapes because of their infidelity. (Is.5; Jer.2:21; Ez.15)

When Jesus applies this as his personal image, he contrasts Himself to Israel’s infidelity; he affirms his faithfulness in bearing the fruit of God’s work. God finds true fidelity in Jesus a fidelity which culminated in his self-donation on the Cross.

Let us try to reflect on what this image of the vine can help us in living out the Christian life that is expected of us. First, the image of vine-branches demonstrates what the Church should be. As a Body of Christ, the members should remain united with their head who is Christ. The Christian’s union with Christ should be seen as something “personal”.

Second, the fruit of the vine-branches relationship is intimacy. Intimacy is something we can gain in this kind of relationship. Intimacy suggests knowledge about the “other,” so much so that one can speak on behalf of the “other.” We also have heard this in last week’s gospel wherein Christ said, “I know my sheep and my sheep know me.”

Intimacy demands a quantity of time, as well as a “quality time.” We can only be intimate with Christ if we search for him regularly, and likewise, if we seriously spend time with him in prayer and in reading the word of God.

Third, if we reflect further, the word “abiding” is significant to our reflections. Abiding is “dwelling” or “living” in the other. We can find this in the life of the Trinitarian God, in which one person dwells in the other. For instance, Jesus once said, “I am in the Father, and the Father is in me.”

In the same way, our relationship with Christ asks for indwelling. We should live in Christ and, equally, Christ should live in us. The second reading gives us a form of indwelling: love.  When we show love to our brothers and sisters, God can be seen in us because of the fact that God is love.

This vine-branches relationship that we have reflected so far can be applied to marital relationship. The man and wife are called to live as one. A key to its fulfillment is, first, to live in intimacy which brings knowledge for each other. As years go by, each spouse should have known each other more deeply. If a wife comments this way, “Actually, my husband remains a mystery to me,” this shows that intimacy is not in a picture.

But if she says, “I don’t react that much because I know that in five minutes he would calm down,” that is an index of intimacy. Moreover, husbands and wives should “dwell” in each other so that they could live as one. This takes a long process though. When both husband and wife have already lived with “one mind and one heart”, there the intimacy and indwelling happens.

Even a well-pruned branch cannot bear grapes unless it abides in the vine, drawing water and minerals from the main trunk and transporting food prepared in the leaves to the main trunk and to the roots.  Jesus reminds us that we cannot bear fruit either, unless we abide in him just as he abides in us. Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches.”

What Jesus means is that by abiding in him we will bear much fruit, and that apart from him we can do nothing. Abiding in Christ means that God has to be inside us and we have to be inside God. We abide in Christ by drawing near to God and by experiencing His being near to us, or by living every moment as he has commanded us to do, with the radiant presence of Christ all around us.

This life of intimate union with Christ in the Church is maintained by the spiritual helps common to all the faithful, chiefly by active participation in the Liturgy. Those of us who do not abide in Jesus will wither and be thrown away, just as withered branches are thrown into the fire to be burned. Fruit-bearing in Christian life is not just of our own making. It is the sign that Christ is working in us and through us.

Let us abide in Christ and let Christ abide in us: The four Gospels teach us how to become true disciples of Jesus and how to abide in him as braches abide in the main trunk of the vine and draw their life from the vine.

Personal and liturgical prayers, frequenting of the sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation, daily and meditative reading of the Bible and selfless, loving acts of kindness and mercy and forgiveness  enable us to abide in Jesus, the true vine, as fruit-bearing branches.