St. Andrew by the Bay
May 29, 2021
A Unified Message with Three Points
It’s been far too long since I have joined you here at St. Andrew’s for Sunday Mass, so I am especially happy to be with you today, and to join with you in thanking Fr. Andrew De Fusco for his leadership of your parish family. Let me also thank you for your patience and forbearance throughout the past year as we labored under all kinds of restrictions due to the pandemic. I hope that all of you and your loved ones are emerging safely from COVID, and with you I look forward to the resumption of some semblance of normality.
On Trinity Sunday, when we celebrate the One God in Three Persons, it is probably a good idea for the homilist to have a unified message with three points. I will try to do just that, and I hope that, in God’s grace, these reflections will help us all to be drawn more deeply into the heart of God who, in his mercy, has revealed himself to us through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit.
Point One: There is Only One God
Let us begin with the simple truth that there is only one God. Since we acknowledge God as ‘the Supreme Being’ we take it for granted that there is only one God – After all, how can there be several “supreme beings”? But today’s first reading from the Book of Deuteronomy reminds us what a breakthrough it was for the Chosen People to know for sure that there is in fact only one God. For as you know, in antiquity, the peoples of the earth thought there were many gods, a god for every occasion and need, gods who were arbitrary, gods who were depicted as behaving badly and fighting among themselves, gods who were mere projections of the human beings who created them.
But to the people of Israel the One True God showed his face. He revealed himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to his servant Moses as he chose a people to be his very own and walked with them through history. Today’s reading from the Book of Deuteronomy exults in this fact, as should we: “Did anything so great ever happen before?” it asks. “Was it ever heard of? Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of fire…and live?” Deuteronomy goes on to ask if any other god ever formed and delivered a nation as the Lord God formed the people of Israel and delivered them from the slavery of Egypt. Our reading also exults in the wise and loving law, the Torah, the Word, which the true and living God imparted to the people he had chosen to be his own.
Now comes the punch line! Deuteronomy says to us: “This is why you must now know and fix in your heart, that the Lord God is in the heavens above and on the earth below, and that there is no other!”. . . “There is no other!” – One God living and true! How important for us who live in times when it is so very easy to idolize money, power, and pleasure – in their many forms – and to embrace them as the ultimate goods in our lives—only to be disappointed. Let us heed the message to keep our eyes fixed on the God who is love.
Point Two: Jesus Shows Us the Father in and through the Holy Spirit
As the Lord walked with the Chosen People, he imparted to them his Word and his Spirit. The Word of God, the Torah, the law, was not merely information about God but rather was God’s powerful Word, a Word that creates and redeems, almost like a personal intervention on God’s part, one might say. Thus in Psalm 33, our responsorial psalm, we sang, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made . . . . . . he spoke and it was made, he commanded it stood forth.” And when the Lord spoke through his servants the prophets, he poured forth his Spirit, his ruah, his breath upon them, so that they could truly prophecy in his Name, so that they could truly interpret the Torah, the Word.
With the coming of Jesus, the Word was made flesh, the face of God the Father was revealed in the power of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus, we have come to see that God’s Word and God’s Spirit are indeed Persons, and that the One God in Three Persons is himself an eternal exchange of love – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In his preaching Jesus also revealed that we, you and I, are destined to share in that most holy exchange. Thus, in today’s reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, we heard these words: “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him that we may also be glorified with him!” It is Jesus the Word made flesh who shows us the face of the Father. And it is the Spirit who enables us to embrace the Word, the Son of God made man, and in the Son to become the adopted sons and daughters of the Father. How wonderful to think that by our baptism we have been called, even now, to share in the intimate life and love of the Most Holy Trinity. This is the ultimate love for which our questing spirits are searching, the love for which our souls hunger and thirst, the love which on earth we experience most fully in the celebration of the Eucharist.
Point Three: Spreading the Good News
And here is point three of my three point homily: If we really believe that in Jesus we are children of God who, in the Spirit, are loved by our heavenly Father, if we really do believe that in Christ Jesus God has forgiven our sins and that through the Holy Spirit the love of God is poured into our hearts – if we really believe this, can we honestly keep it bottled up? If it’s true that God loves us so much as to makes us partakers of his own life, can we really act as if this is just one more thing besides everything else in our lives? Just as there is only One God who is greater than all else, isn’t our sharing in his Triune life and love the greatest thing that could happen to us?
For this reason, the Risen Lord, before ascending into heaven, says to his Apostles, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” And he adds, “Teach them to observe all that I commanded you and know that I am with you always until the end of the age.” Friends, when we talk about evangelization and making missionary disciples, this is what we are talking about – allowing the love of Jesus we experience in Scripture, in the sacraments, and prayer so to fill and overtake our hearts that we want to share this Good News with others – with our family members, with our friends, with those whose faith has lapsed. Jesus commanded his first disciples to evangelize . . . but he also commands us in our various vocations and ministries to do the same.
May people hear in our words, see in our deeds, and perceive in our demeanor that we have been touched in our depths with the glory and greatness of the One God in Three Persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and may this One Triune God bless us and keep us always in his love!