Pastoral Sharings: "Trinity Sunday"

WeeklyMessage Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS 
Trinity Sunday
Posted for May 31, 2015

Our text today which comes at the very end of St 
Matthew’s Gospel is the most direct reference to the Holy 
Trinity in the Bible. It is given on a mountain in Galilee 
where the Apostles had been instructed to go by Jesus. 
This mountain is not without significance nor is its location.

There are a lot of mountains in the Bible and in every case what takes place on them is a special revelation of God. You can think of many examples going from the Ark landing on Mount Ararat, through the Sacrifice of Abraham on the mountain of Moriah, to the giving of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai.

And in the New Testament there are quite a few other mountains and hills: Jesus is Transfigured on Mount Tabor, he gives his most important teaching in the Sermon on the Mount and ultimately gives his life for us on the Hill of Calvary.

So what we are dealing with here on this mountain in Galilee is a moment of great significance, an occasion of special revelation. And it is no mistake that it takes place in Galilee as if to remind the Apostles that, while many other important events took place in Jerusalem, Jesus conducted most of his public ministry in Galilee. Indeed that was where it was inaugurated and now in this great event it is where his ministry comes to its final conclusion.

On this mountain Jesus gives the Apostles three tasks: 1) to make disciples of all the nations 2) to Baptise them in the name of the Holy Trinity and 3) to teach these new disciples to observe the commands of Jesus.

To become a disciple is the natural response to any extended encounter with Jesus. It is the task of the Apostles to bring people into contact with him, to enable those they meet to get to know the Lord and so become disciples themselves.

This is our task too. When we meet others it should be as if they are meeting Jesus. Now I know quite well that we are none of us up to Jesus’ standards. We are much more tetchy, much more irritable, and not really as kind as we ought to be.

If you were to meet me on a Monday morning then it would be as far from an encounter with Jesus as you could possibly get! But, whether we are any good at being like Jesus or not, then that certainly ought to be our aim.

We don’t need to go into long complicated explanations as to who Jesus is; just as long as the people we meet know that we are one of his disciples then that should be enough. From our behavior they will be easily able to deduce quite a lot about the person and significance of Jesus.

We might feel rather inadequate and be afraid of giving the wrong impression and think that what we say and do often might not be in line with what Jesus would want. But this is to underestimate the sophistication of other people; they are quite easily able to assess whether a person is sincere or not and they know immediately what your true intentions are.

That’s the task of making disciples; it’s a big undertaking but get used to it because it is our primary role as Christians. The other two objects of the mission given by Jesus were to Baptise and to teach. Baptism is the key to membership in the Church and teaching is one of the most important activities of the Church. It’s what we are doing now.

These both follow on from making disciples, from introducing people to Jesus. And in a sense they are much easier because, as I said, once people get to know Jesus the natural response is to follow him, to seek Baptism and to wish to know more about him.

We have already noted that this text given for today is the clearest reference to the Trinity in the scriptures; Jesus explicitly tells his disciples to Baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Spirit.  If you look up the commentaries you will find that the scholars mostly say that this phrase was surely the Baptismal formula in use by the early Church but it is not elaborated upon by Jesus. He doesn’t explain it, yet it is the very same Baptismal formula in use by the Church today.

Jesus doesn’t explicitly teach us about the Trinity at all. But from this very succinct formula that the early Christians used for Baptism and from their refection on all the things that Jesus had told them during his public ministry they were slowly able to arrive at a very clear theology of the Holy Trinity.

This is what we mean by the teaching role of the Apostles; like any good teacher they had first to reflect on what it actually is that they are meant to communicate and explain to others.

Jesus referred on many occasions to his Father and to the closeness of his relationship with him. Moreover he taught us to speak to the Father in a very familiar and direct way. That is one of the things that makes our praying of the Our Father so revolutionary.

Jesus also frequently promised to send us his Spirit and tells us, even in this particular passage, that he will be with us always even until the end of time. We understand therefore that it is precisely through the Holy Spirit that Jesus is able to be present to us today.

This final passage of Matthew’s Gospel is sometimes regarded as a brief summary of his whole Gospel. It certainly is a very succinct summary of the role of a true disciple of Christ and gives us a plan for the rest of our lives.

But it also contains a promise; a promise that Christ will be with us till the end of time. This is one of the great promises of God recorded in the Bible. He will not abandon us, he will always be with us guiding us and guarding us from the evil one through the power of his Holy Spirit. And in time we will be taken up into him to share the life of love that is the Trinity.

We might find the task of discipleship daunting but with this promise, with this greatest of all guarantees, we know that we will be able to fulfill the mandate of Christ and so give expression to our deepest desire to be faithful followers of the Lord Jesus in the world of today.

Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
May 31, 2015

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity:The Power of the Name
One day, not all that long after Pentecost Sunday when the apostles received the Holy Spirit, Peter and John were walking through the area of the Temple in Jerusalem.  They had been preaching about Jesus, His message of hope, His gospel of love.  They came to a gate in the Temple which was called the Beautiful Gate.  The Temple in Jerusalem was one of the wonders of the ancient world.  Not just the Jews, but people from throughout the world would journey to Jerusalem to see it.  We can only imagine what that Beautiful Gate looked like.  It must have been inlaid with precious stones, or perhaps it contained reliefs of the great moments of Jewish history, the deliverance from the Egyptians, the victories of Samson, Gideon and the others of the Book of Judges, the conquests of David, the wisdom of Solomon.  And then there was the Beautiful Gate.

Trinity Sunday
Matthew 28: 16–20

Gospel Summary

This carefully crafted passage is the climactic summary of the essential themes of Matthew’s gospel. Jesus, now Risen Lord, reveals that all power in heaven and on earth has been given to him, and thus he has authority to commission his disciples to continue and to extend his mission to all the nations of the earth.

Jesus’ epiphany and

The Most Holy Trinity, Year B—Sunday, May 31, 2015
On this first Sunday after Pentecost, the Church calls us to remember the Most Holy Trinity. Why is this perfect timing?

Gospel (read Mt 28:16-20)

Ever since the first day of Advent, the Church has been liturgically moving us through the history of the One Life that changes all our lives. Christianity is a religion with a footprint within human history. From the beginning, God revealed Himself to mankind in time and space. This revelation was slow, and it came in stages. The formation of the nation of Israel revealed that there was no other god in heaven or earth beside Yahweh, the God Who entered a covenant with flesh and blood people to make them His own.

The Breaking of the Bread
Communion is the condition of fellowship shared by those who have a covenant relationship with one another. In Hebrew the word for this bond is chabu-rah. In Greek it is koinonia.

Communion is a kind of friendship, but it is more than that. It is more like a fam­ily bond; and both Hebrew and Greek usage in the time of the Apostles suggested a religious dimension to the bond. The word chaburah described a group of friends who gathered for religious discussion and common prayer. They met weekly on the eve of the Sabbath (and the eves of holy days) for a formal meal.

The Benefits of Belief
Many people assume “true” Christianity is wholly and utterly altruistic and sentimental. Often, to illustrate this, Jesus’ command to the rich young man (“Go, sell all you have, give it to the poor, and then come and follow me”) is trotted out to support the notion that the gospel is a sort of dreary altruism. It appears that Christianity is, in Ted Turner’s phrase, “a religion for losers.”

God is an Artist
Why do Catholics honor the saints? Because God is an artist, and the Church is his masterpiece. Catholics do not honor the saints because they forget to worship God. They honor the saints because these are the saints in whom God has brought glory to himself. If you want to make much of an artist, you don’t ignore or downplay his art. Rather, you marvel at it. You walk around it again and again, always learning something new. When you love an artist, you don’t put his masterpiece in the closet. You frame it. You put it on a pedestal. So it is that God is an artist, and the Church is his masterpiece, his city on a hill (Matt. 5:14).

Does the Sunday Gospel Feel Like a Two-Edged Sword That Pierces Your Heart? – Here are 3 Tips to Unlocking the Sunday Gospel Reading
Over the course of a year, Catholics will listen to over 52 Gospel readings (not including Holy Days or weekdays). Some of these readings are longer than others (like Palm Sunday), but all are aimed at reaching the depths of our hearts.
int Paul writes that “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 RSVCE, emphasis added). When we hear the Gospel reading on Sunday, are our hearts opened and pierced by God?

Spiritual Warfare: No Pacifists Allowed!
“So, you’re a Jesuit—that means you’re an exorcist, right?” My response to that all-too-frequent question is (muttered under my breath, of course), “Thanks a lot, Hollywood!”

It seems that any priest, and especially any Jesuit priest like me, speaking of spiritual warfare and the like, invites inevitable questions and comparisons related to William Peter Blatty’s famous novel and movie from the 1970s, The Exorcist. Just as one can’t hear Sir Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance” without thinking of graduation, so too any clerical mention of the devil stirs up in the popular imagination Jesuits performing exorcisms, Hollywood style.

The Rise of Militant American Catholic Men
Catholic men are arming themselves for battle.

Spiritual battle.

Behind the headlines and beneath the radar, a grassroots movement is growing among Catholic men in the United States. Spurred on by the culture wars, they are rallying to conferences, retreats, seminars, and parish study groups that aim to support them in their faith, encourage fellowship, and motivate Christian action in support of charity, social justice, pro-life causes, and the traditional family. Catholic men’s events have become phenomenally successful, gathering Catholic men from a wide spectrum of age ranges to hear motivational speakers, inspiring converts, and spiritual leaders.

Three Simple Paths to Interior Peace
I was born a restless child and never faltered from my constant busyness into adulthood.  The restlessness within was twofold: One, I tended toward generalized anxiety (e.g., fear of everything), and two, I grew up in a household rife with inconstancy and unexpected strife.  To their credit, my parents raised my brother and me with rhythm and routine, but my brother’s burgeoning psychological diagnoses during early adolescence hurled the rest of us into a steady stream of uncertainty and panic.

Thus the perpetuation of interior strife – rather than a state of unfaltering tranquility – was born in my heart.

The Trees of Life
In the Bible, we learn the names of two trees in Paradise. One is the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which had fruit pleasing to the eye, but which also led to mankind’s downfall by partaking of it. The other tree we know as the tree of life, which had fruit on it that led to eternal life. God said inGenesis 3:22 that if man eats of this tree, he shall never die. In the future, this same tree of life is also mentioned in Revelation 2:7, when God says, “To the victor I will give the right to eat from the tree of life that is in the garden of God.”

20 Tips from Padre Pio for Those Who Are Suffering
Every now and then, God sends extraordinary people to our world who act as a bridge between earth and heaven, and they help thousands of people to enjoy eternal Paradise. The twentieth century gave us an especially unique one: the Capuchin friar Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, who was born in that small town in the south of Italy and died in 1968 in San Giovanni Rotondo. Saint John Paull II raised him to the altars in 2002 during a canonization ceremony that beat all attendance records. Today, it can be said that he is the most venerated saint in Italy.

The Dignity and Vocation of Priests
Jesus said:  “The Harvest is rich but the laborers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send more laborers.”  Essential to the extension of the Kingdom and the salvation of souls is the Sacrament of Holy Orders, that we call the priesthood.

A Marian Heart
The other day my spiritual director challenged me to better emulate the heart of Mary in word and deed. As a person who claims to be devoted to the Blessed Virgin, I must admit, there are times my actions do not reflect my belief. From his simple, yet challenging comment, I realized my devotion to Mary must reflect my daily attitude.

If one reflects on the mysteries of Christ and Mary’s life, especially through the rosary, they should slowly begin to take on the persona that was subject to meditation.

Domestic Churches Must Go Forth in Love
As we anticipate the blessing of Pope Francis’ visit to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia this fall, it’s an opportunity to reflect on the Holy Father’s encyclical Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) and its relevance to families.

The family is a “domestic church” built by grace, sustained with love and by design has an inherent portability that is lacking in traditional church structures.

Twelve Other Forms of Marian Piety
n my last article, I looked to the rosary as the Marian devotion par excellence.  Some people may find the rosary difficult to pray, or they desire to honor Mary in another way or additional ways.  Below are twelve other ways in which a person can honor Mary beside the rosary.  By no means should this list be considered exhaustive.

Understanding the ‘dark night of the soul’
When the world looked at the face of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata, it saw pure, simple joy. Then, in 2007, 10 years after Blessed Teresa’s death, a collection of her private letters was published. Suddenly, the joy that the tiny sister from Albania once radiated seemed anything but simple.

As the letters revealed, for the entirety of her public ministry, the founder of the Missionaries of Charity endured unceasing feelings of desolation and abandonment by God.

The Fruit that Came from Obeying God’s Will
Last September, on the day after turning in the manuscript for Joyful Witness: How to Be an Extraordinary Catholic to my publisher, I went to Eucharistic adoration seeking peace and quiet time before the Blessed Sacrament. I was exhausted, having written three books in 18 months in addition to running my business and performing my normal duties as a husband and father. All I wanted was to clear my mind and lose myself in prayer. God, however, had other plans.

Goodness to Greatness
We seek greatness by our very nature; God created us for great things. Great things because we are, essentially, good. Good because we are created in the Imago Dei. Throughout Salvation history we observe that the greatest men were the good men. Those whose lives we venerate and actions we emulate are those who committed their lives to the Lord and tried to do His Will. With the rise of modernity, however, we find that the pursuit of virtue is oft abandoned in favor of secular fame and fortune. Wealth, power, and celebrity are the new “great.” Slouching toward Gomorrah, Western civilization’s abiding pursuit of virtue is being replaced by an eager pursuit of vice. Like the sophist Meno, our students learn to confuse material success, luxury, and fame with goodness, and that such achievements define greatness. With this ubiquitous cultural influence, any one of us may be tempted to forget our ultimate end.

Decline in Morality Leads to Lack of Respect for Life
This is the third in a series on Evangelium vitae. See the whole series here.

As any serious Christian knows, human life is a treasure given to us by God Himself. Scripture and the teachings of the Church instruct us that we are all children of God, made in his image and likeness. Christians also realize that God has a place waiting for us in heaven, as long as we live according to the teachings of the Church and take advantage of the sacraments as aids to staying in a state of grace. (After all, we never know the time nor the hour when we will be called to judgment.)

Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen, Nobody Knows but Jesus: A Meditation on a Grief Observed
As a follow-up to the recent post on comforting the sorrowful, I was led to consider the grief of my parents and the difficulties they faced in raising a daughter with serious mental illness.

My father died eight years ago, and except for essential papers related to his estate, I simply boxed up most of his papers and stored them in the attic of my rectory for future attention. At long last I am sorting through those boxes. Among his effects were also many papers of my mother’s, who died about two years before he passed away.

The Eclipse of Reason
Pope Benedict’s 2010 Christmas Greeting to the Roman Curia, a Catholic version of the American “State of the Union Address,” was notable for the emphasis placed upon human reason. His Holiness did not so much focus on the loss of Faith occurring in Western Democracies as he did the loss of Reason. At one point in his address he stated:

“To resist this eclipse of reason and to preserve its capacity for seeing the essential, for seeing God and man, for seeing what is good and what is true, is the common interest that must unite all people of good will. The very future of the world is at stake.”

Family Graces: Joy in Parenting
Despite the message our culture sends, marriage and parenting aren’t the frightful things they’re often made out to be. The hardships that come in family life are outweighed by true and lasting joy, when we keep the proper perspective – perspective being the key word here.

Parenting isn’t easy, but it makes us into the people we ought to be, as co-shepherds with Christ. God designs not only marriages, but families. It’s a great adventure, one that is eschewed today by so many who seek false fulfillment in temporary, material goals or selfish acquisition.

Rosary Project Benefits Military and Civilians
DAVENPORT, Iowa — Picture thousands of men and women in the military praying the Rosary.

That’s one of the major hopes of U.S. Army chaplain Father William Kneemiller for his Holy Land Military Rosary project.

Currently on duty in the Middle East, Father Kneemiller, who holds the rank of major, would like to distribute the free rosaries to as many chaplains and servicemen and women as possible.

Pagans or Puritans…You Choose
You might remember that in C.S.Lewis’ Narnia stories Mr Tumnus the Faun recounts how they used to have jolly times with Bacchus and Silenus. Lewis was criticized for bringing such blatant paganism into his works.

What was he thinking??!!

Ten Reasons Why Shakespeare Was Catholic
There are probably no greater academic debating topics than the mysterious life of the Bard of Avon–William Shakespeare.

Did he really write those plays? If he didn’t, who did? Was he involved in the Elizabethan spy network?

Was he a secret Catholic? Are there pro-Catholic “codes” is his plays?

The Surprising Catholic History of Pretzels
When I moved to Philadelphia I was surprised by the number of guys on the side of the roads selling pretzels. I never buy food from anyone who doesn’t have a bathroom but forgetting that, the whole thing just took me a while to get used to. As a New Yorker, I was used to people selling hot dogs but not pretzels on street corners.

Now, my kids love pretzels. And I’m cool with that, mainly because I’ve recently discovered that pretzels have a long Catholic history. And they may have saved Christian Europe. Kinda

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