Trinity Sunday Homily
Dedication of new altar and 60th anniversary of St. Clare in Essex
May 22, 2016
By Archbishop William E. Lori
Let me begin with a word of thanks, first for the leadership of Father Jesse Bolger who had the vision, the skill, and the gumption to undertake the project of renovating the sanctuary here at St. Clare of Assisi. Thank you, Father Jesse!
Then, I would like to thank all of you, the parish family of St. Clare, for your deep interest in this project, for your support and for your generosity without which this renovation would not have occurred.
Let me also join you in thanking those whose skill and expertise transformed dreams and plans into reality – the architect, the builder, and the staff from the Catholic Center. Warmest thanks to all of you!
So now, we have gathered as a family of faith on Trinity Sunday to bless this newly renovated worship space and to dedicate a new altar, to set it aside and dedicate it solely to the worship of God.
What a wonderful day for these blessings!
It’s a day when we focus on the central mystery of our faith, namely, the mystery of God, the God who is love, the one God in three persons, the God whom we seek to worship in spirit and truth in this sanctuary.
This leads us to consider a truth that should give us joy every day of our lives: God is love – a God of truth, love and compassion. Or, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it,
“God himself is an eternal exchange of love – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – and he has destined us to share in that exchange” (CCC, 221).
We build churches, dedicate sanctuaries and altars, and keep holy the Lord’s day, precisely so that we might share in the life of the Holy Trinity.
When we profess our faith in the truth that there is one God with three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – we are, in effect, saying that God is love. From all eternity, even before the world was created, the Father has begotten the Son, his eternal Word, his Wisdom.
And from all eternity the Son has been and remains the perfect reflection of the Father’s utter goodness and self-giving love.
And the love between the Father and the Son is not just an idea or a feeling but rather the third person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit.
In the Creed, we profess the church’s constant faith that the Son is “God from God, light from light, true God from true God.”
And we call the Holy Spirit “the Lord and giver of life who proceeds from the Father and the Son.”
We can’t imagine how beautiful and glorious is the one God of three persons, but we do know that God’s glory consists in the truth, goodness, and beauty of a self-giving love that “circulates”, if you will, among the persons of the trinity.
We, dear friends, were created to share in that very love.
Consider what the reading from Proverbs tells us today; it says that the world was created by wisdom of God, that is, by the Son of God. It tells of how God in his wisdom and love created the world in all its wonder, but at the end of the reading adds, “and I found delight in the human race.”
Psalm 8, our responsorial, takes up where the book of Proverbs left off in celebrating the wonders of creation and in reminding us that we were created “little less than angels” and ‘crowned with glory and honor’ … that is to say, we were made in God’s image and likeness and called to preside over and care for God’s creation as we journey toward our destiny to take part in glorious life and love of the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
If that is why we were created, it is even more so the reason we were redeemed. When sin entered the world and the image of God in us was marred, the triune God did not give up on us but instead reached down in mercy.
So God began to reveal himself and in the fullness of time sent his Son into the world, born of the Virgin Mary, truly the Son of God and truly sharing our human nature.
He preached the good news of the Father’s mercy, healed the sick and died on the cross and rose from the dead to save a suffering humanity.
In giving his life on the cross he showed us the loving heart of his Father, and in revealing the Father’s love for us revealed how precious we are in the Father’s eyes.
And after the risen Lord was seated at God’s right hand, the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit to guide us to all truth and to pour into our hearts the love which the Father and Son eternally share.
These are the mysteries we have celebrated during Christmas, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost – how the Trinity created us in love and still more wonderfully redeemed us.
This bring us full circle back to the reason why we build churches and seek to create beautiful places of worship. The liturgy and sacraments are not mere ceremonies or empty rituals.
Rather, sacramental liturgy opens up for us the inner life of the Triune God by recalling and making present for us all that God has done to save us.
As Scripture is proclaimed, it is Christ who speaks to us and the Holy Spirit who guides us to the truth, strengthens our faith, so that we might truly open our hearts to Jesus and to his Father.
When the Holy Spirit is invoked over bread and wine and the priest utters the words of institution, bread and wine are totally changed into Christ’s body and blood. In this way we truly share in the sacrifice Jesus offered on the cross on our behalf on Calvary to God the Father of mercies.
As we are caught up in Jesus’ self-giving love, the Father’s love is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit and it is from hearts redeemed from sin and filled with love that we can truly offer the Triune God praise, thanksgiving, adoration, and worship while asking him for our needs and those of all the world.
And as we are drawn more and more deeply into the life and love of the Trinity, we ourselves begin to change – the image and likeness of the Triune God shines in and through us more clearly, and we begin to practice self-giving love toward our families and colleagues.
Having received the mercy of God through Jesus in the Holy Spirit, we become men and women of mercy, ready to forgive as we have been forgiven, ready to reach out in love for the poor, as the Triune God has reached out to us. And don’t we live in hope that, at the end of our days, having worshipped the Trinity in spirit and truth Sunday after Sunday and day by day, we will be fit to enter into heaven, fit to enter into God’s own life and love, because our love for God and for others resembles his.
That is why we are here! That is why we have renovated this space!
Your patron, St. Clare of Assisi, devoted her whole life to prayer. She prayed deeply, indeed she was a mystic, and had a profound love for and trust in Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
And St. Clare gives us good advice in our busy distracted lives when she says, “We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become. If we love things, we become a thing. If we love nothing, we become not. Imitation (she said) is not a literal mimicking of Christ, rather it means becoming the image of the beloved, an image disclosed through transformation.
This means we are to become vessels of God’s compassionate love for others.”
Through the intercession of St. Clare, may we love the only true and living God, a Trinity of persons, one God ever to be adored in the majesty of divine mercy.
Thus may it come to pass that Jesus who shared our humanity will lift us up so that we might share in his divinity!
God bless us and keep us always in his love!
Read more of Archbishop Lori’s homilies, columns and commentary here.