The MOST HOLY TRINITY [B]

                                 The MOST HOLY TRINITY [B]

                      Dt 4:32-34, 39-40; Rom8:14-17; Mt 28:16-20

There is a 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.”

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.

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.

All prayers in the Church begin in the Name of the Holy Trinity and end glorifying the Trinity.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

In John, 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.

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!

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!”

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.

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 our final 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. 

Be Blessed and Be a Blessing. Amen.

Advertisements

Pentecost Sunday Year B

Pentecost Sunday

Acts 2:1-11; 1Cor 12:3-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23

A priest was once asked by a doctor why he preached the existence of the Holy Spirit as the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity. The doctor again asked: “Do you ever see the Holy Spirit? Do you ever hear the Holy Spirit?” The priest answered, “No”.

The doctor continued: “Do you ever taste the Holy Spirit? Do you ever smell the Holy Spirit? To all of these questions, the doctor received a ‘No” answer. But when the doctor asked: “Do you ever feel the Holy Spirit?”

The priest replied: “Yes, indeed.” “Well,” said the doctor, “There are four of the five senses against you, Father. So, I doubt that there is a Holy Spirit.” Then it was the turn of the priest to ask. “You are a Doctor of Medicine,” “It is your business to treat pains.

Did you ever see, hear, taste or smell a pain?” asked the priest. “No,” answered the doctor. “Do you feel the pain,” followed the priest. “Yes, I did,” said the doctor. “There are four senses against you. Yet you know, and I know that there is pain. By the same proof, I know that the Holy Spirit exists,” continued the priest.

For each one of us who are here we do believe that the Holy Spirit exists because we feel His presence in us. Even if we do not see, hear, taste or smell the Holy Spirit, we do believe His existence.

It is because “for those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary; for those who do not believe in God, no explanation is possible,”

Today we are celebrating the Feast of the Pentecost. Pentecost is the day where we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Since today is the feast of the coming of the Holy Spirit to apostles and to us too, let us talk about the Holy Spirit in order to have a better understanding of this Third Person of the Blessed Trinity.

First, the Holy Spirit is Holy; of course, He is God like the Father and the Son. The Third Divine Person of the Blessed Trinity sent to the world by the Father and the Son, Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit now guides the church and continues the works and teachings of Jesus without changing them. He is the Sanctifier of the church. Second, the Holy Spirit comes to us first at the moment of our baptism, more fully at our confirmation.

He infuses in us together with sanctifying grace and the three theological virtues of faith, hope and love. He gave to us His seven gifts of: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.

Also, this Holy Spirit gave to us the twelve fruits of these seven gifts, namely: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, forbearance, meekness, fidelity, modesty, continence and chastity (Gal.5:16-25).

Without the Holy Spirit, nobody can believe or hope, and nobody can repent of his/her sins. Third, the Holy Spirit is Love made Person. We know that all love comes from God.

We also need to know the role of the Holy Spirit in our individual lives. The role of the Holy Spirit in Christian life: As an indwelling God, He makes us His Living Temples (ICor.3:16).

As a strengthening God, He strengthens us in our fight against temptations and in our mission of bearing witness to Christ by transparent Christian lives. As a sanctifying God, He makes us holy through the sacraments:

He makes us children of God and heirs of heaven through Baptism. He makes us temples of God, warriors and defenders of faith, through Confirmation. He enables us to be reconciled to God by pardoning our sins through Reconciliation.

He gives us spiritual nourishment via the Holy Eucharist by converting bread and wine into Jesus’ body and blood.

As a teaching and guiding God, He clarifies and constantly reminds us of Christ’s teachings. As a listening and talking God, He listens to our prayers and enables us to pray, and He speaks to us mainly through the Bible.

As a giver of gifts, He gives us His gifts, fruits and charisms. Anyone who has ever looked into a grave will know how logical it is to see it as a dead end the extinction of all hope, the end of the story.

But our faith is deeper than logic and it looks into the empty tomb of Christ with joy, seeing it as the beginning of hope, not the end of hope. It is the beginning not the end of the story. Because of the empty tomb there are no dead ends for a Christian.

The disciples had locked themselves in “for fear of the Jews.” They had gathered themselves into a kind of tomb. Perhaps they thought that their future would be just this: to recall and cherish their memories of Jesus within this little circle.

But suddenly Jesus appeared among them. He went down into their tomb, as the story says he descended into Hades to release the dead from their past and to bring them out into the light of the Resurrection.

He would not let these disciples enter an early Hades. He empowered them with the Spirit. Now Jesus breathed the Spirit into these disciples as God breathed into Adam the breath of life, so, making them a new people.

In the power of the Spirit they left their narrow dungeon and preached the good news of Jesus to “Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia …” (Acts 2:9-11); in other words, they preached to the whole world.

What is the life message for us today? We need to permit the Holy Spirit to take control of our lives: May be by constantly remembering His holy presence and behaving well or may be by praying for His daily anointing so that we may fight against our temptations and control our evil tendencies, evil habits and addictions.

May be by asking His daily assistance to pray, listening to God through meditative Bible reading and talking to Him or may be by asking the help of the Holy Spirit to do good for others and to be reconciled to God and others every day.

As Saint Paul exhorts us, “Walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16, 25). Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ascension of the Lord, Year B – 18

                                Ascension of the Lord, Year B – 18

                           Acts.1:1-11 / Eph.1:17-23 / Mk.16:15-20

 Happy Mother’s Day to all Mothers. Years ago, on a hot summer day in south Florida a little boy decided to go for a swim in the old swimming hole behind his house. In a hurry to dive into the cool water, he ran out the back door, leaving behind shoes, socks, and shirt as he went.

 He flew into the water, not realizing that as he swam toward the middle of the lake, an alligator was swimming toward the shore. His mother in the house was looking out the window saw the two as they got closer and closer together.

 In utter fear, she ran toward the water, yelling to her son as loudly as she could. Hearing her voice, the little boy became alarmed and made a U-turn to swim to his mother. It was too late. Just as he reached her, the alligator reached him.

 From the dock, the mother grabbed her little boy by the arms just as the alligator snatched his legs. There began an incredible tug-of-war between the two. The alligator was much stronger than the mother, but the mother was much too passionate to let go.

 A farmer happened to drive by, heard her screams, raced from his truck, took aim and shot the alligator.

 Remarkably, after weeks and weeks in the hospital, the little boy survived. His legs were extremely scarred by the vicious attack of the animal. And, on his arms, were deep scratches where his mother’s fingernails dug into his flesh in her effort to hang on to the son she loved.

 The newspaper reporter, who interviewed the boy after the trauma, asked if he would show him his scars. The boy lifted his pant legs. And then, with obvious pride, he said to the reporter, “But look at my arms.

 I have great scars on my arms, too. I have them because my Mom wouldn’t let go.” Mothers may not know it, but they are often responsible for the faith development of their children more than many preachers put together.

 The meaning of an old Jewish proverb that says, “God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.” Today we acknowledge it and we say, “God bless you Mothers.”

 Now let us go to the Ascension of the Lord. It is an important feast day because it points to one important aspect of our faith – Jesus has gone up to heaven to prepare a place for us so that where He is we too shall be.

 At His Resurrection, He conquered sin and death and raised us to life. In the Ascension, this life takes on a clearer and more profound aspect- eternal life in heaven with Jesus.

 That should make us set our hearts on things of above and not of things of earth. But does that mean that we don’t bother about anything and do nothing about our life here on earth?

Of course, it is needless to answer that question. But at the same time, we also need to understand that our life on earth is a preparation for the eternal life of heaven.

 So, what must we do on earth then? What Jesus said to the Eleven, He also says to us: Go out to the whole world, proclaim the Good News to all creation.

 Jesus also gave a list of signs that will be associated with believers: they will cast out devils, have the gift of tongues, pick up snakes in their hands, and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.

 All that seems rather lofty and maybe even unbelievable. Can we do all that? Have we done all that?

 But before we discourage ourselves with a barrage of “No” to what Jesus said, we need to find out what is the sign that Jesus wants us to be.

 And this is where we need to go back to the 1st reading when Jesus also said that we will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on us, and then we will be witnesses reaching out to the ends of the earth.

 So as Jesus ascends into heaven, He wants us to prepare the descent of the Holy Spirit, who will empower us to be witnesses and to be signs.

 So as much as we set our hearts to the things of above, may we also be witnesses and signs to the people of the earth.

 We must be living signs to point them to heaven. Because that’s where we are going, and we want them to go along with us.  

 At the end let us reflect these words on witnessing coming from John White. He said: “A good witness isn’t like a salesman the emphasis is on a person rather than a product. A good witness is like a signpost.

 It doesn’t matter whether it is old, young, pretty, ugly; it has to point the right direction and be able to be understood. We are witnesses to Christ, we point to him.” This is witness. This is transforming. This is what God wants us to do.

 We need to be proclaimers and evangelizers: To be a Christian is to be a proclaimer and an evangelizer. There is a difference between preaching and proclaiming. We preach with words, but we proclaim with our lives.  

 Let us ask the guidance of the Holy Spirit to bear witness to Jesus by our transparent Christian lives.

 Be Blessed and be a Blessing. Amen.

 

6th Sunday Easter Year B

                                     6th Sunday Easter Year B

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

A young man got married and he asked his wife if they could go, as part of their honeymoon, to a certain country where his best friend lived as he wanted her to meet him.

On meeting the friend he introduced him to his wife with the words. “Here is the man you need to thank for my being alive today”. He is what I call a true friend.

Apparently when they were in high school together the young married man found out that he had had a very severe kidney complaint, with both kidneys in a very serious condition.

Even though he had been good friends always with the other young man, he realized then what it was to have a true friend.

His friend, on hearing of his possible death due to his serious kidney condition offered him one of his own kidneys. Luckily the kidneys matched and the gift of the kidney saved his life.

I suppose not everyone would risk his own life to do this.

In the gospel today Jesus says to his disciples that ‘a man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends’ which he himself did in giving his life on the cross.

He assures them that in the gospel he wants to call them, and us too, his friends. His relationship with them and us is not to be that of a servant.

A servant is someone who does what his master commands as an obligation or because he is paid to do so. Jesus is emphasizing that his relationship with us is to be that of true friendship.

The game of tennis is a quite popular game. People follow the game, watch the game on tv (which can last for a few hours) and of course some play the game. But tennis is certainly more than just a play-play kind of game.

Because top professional tennis players can become millionaires, and the top names are Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, etc. And these top players play in top tournaments like Wimbledon, US Open, French Open, etc.

But for all the big names and the big money, the game of tennis is actually quite a simple game. All you have to do is to hit the ball back into your opponent’s court. That’s all you need to do to win the game. It’s as simple as that; but it requires a lot of skill to do that.

And you know what it is said about life and tennis? Life is like a game of tennis. The player who can hit every ball across seldom loses.

So the simple logic about tennis is that when the ball comes to you, you don’t keep the ball. You always return the ball, so to speak.

And that is also the simple logic about life and love. In life whenever love comes to us, we don’t keep it for ourselves. We have to return it. So in a way, life is like a game of tennis – we return the love, just as we return the ball.

And that is what Jesus is telling us in the gospel – As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. For Jesus, love is not for keeps. The love that He received from His Father, He gives to us. And the love we receive from Jesus, we in turn must give to others.

And Jesus even makes a commandant out of it – Love one another as I have loved you. In other words, as Jesus has loved us, so must we love one another. It’s a commandment; it’s not a suggestion, nor is it an option.

We often hear of this phrase “love offering”. It is often written on boxes in church events and it is a way of asking for donations to offset the cost of holding the events.

It gives us the notion that we can give whatever we wish and we are not obliged to give a large sum nor are we required to give all we have.

But for God, when it comes to a love offering, it is nothing less than all. As we heard in the 2nd reading, God’s love for us was revealed when God sent into the world His only Son so that we can have life through Him.

So it is not our love for God, but God’s love for us when He sent His only Son to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away. Yes, love is a sacrifice, and a love offering is a total offering because God’s love for us is a total sacrifice.

Therefore, John says today, “Wherever there is love, there is God”. He does not say, “Wherever there are Christians, there is God” or “Wherever there is a Christian church, there is God”.

But, wherever there is a person filled with real agape-love for others, God is there. That is the meaning of the parable of the Good Samaritan.

He was called “good” not because he was a religious person but because he reached out in compassionate love for someone who was supposed to be his enemy.

So we can find love, and therefore God at work, in a Protestant, a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Muslim. Maybe that person has no religious faith at all. He or she may be an agnostic, an atheist, a communist.

Wherever in the world there is truth, compassion, justice, true freedom and peace, God is certainly there.

The love that Jesus speaks about is very different from the love of the pop songs on MTV, or much of the love on TV and the movies. Sometimes when we love, we will be very happy.

But sometimes loving the poor, the sick, the criminal will not be very easy. If we have to look after a relative who is close to dying, it can be a very painful experience, especially if that patient is difficult or unresponsive to our attentions. But that is love.

Love is not a question of keeping rules and commandments. Love is a way of life. It is an internal attitude which influences every single thing we do and say and think.

The love of a Christian needs to be unconditional. Sometimes people will love us back; sometimes they will not. Sometimes, even though we want to love people, they may reject us.

If they do reject us, we need not necessarily think that we have done wrong. When people cannot return genuine love, it is they who have the problem. Sad to say, not everyone is capable of loving.

All the more reason why we need to reach out to them. People often learn to love by being loved.

The most important thing is not that I am very clever, very successful, very rich, very famous… The most important thing is that I am someone who really loves.

When I genuinely love others, there will always be some who cannot love me back but there will be others who will really respond in love. And it may be that my love has empowered them to be loving too.

To be able to reach out in love and to experience being loved is God’s greatest grace.

Be Blessed and Be a Blessing. Amen.