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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Holy Trinity Sunday

June 19, 2011

Exodus 34: 4-6, 8-9; Daniel 3: 52¬-55; 2 Corinthians 13: 11-13; John 3:16-18

On this feast of the Holy Trinity we find God from the very beginning desiring to enter into a deep relationship with us. We encounter Moses walking up Mount Sinai to meet the Lord as he was commanded. The Lord cries out his own name before Moses and reveals that he is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and rich in kindness and fidelity. On behalf of the Hebrews, Moses invites the Lord into their company. God never uses force, but responds to and initiates invitations to relationships.

John’s Gospel further reveals the radical characteristics of God’s nature. This is a God who loves the world so much that God will send his Son into it so that he can bring them to a new and eternal life. God intensely desires that we live in relationship with him through his Son, and God is far from vengeful. In fact, God will go to great lengths to save everyone, but especially those who know his Son and believe in him. God’s design in creation has not stopped, but continues to bring the entire world into eternal life. All of creation groans in labor pains as it strives towards its fulfillment in Christ.

The feast of the Trinity celebrates the flourishing of healthy relationships. When we love God through his Son, Jesus Christ, his Spirit brings about the positive relationships Paul speaks of in 2 Corinthians. We reconcile easily with others and reform our lives. We offer freedom and encouragement in friendships. We seek peace and discover new ways to perpetuate peace even though we know it takes diligent efforts. We look upon one another as a child of God and find great dignity and honor in both friend and foreigner. We offer an unheard of degree of hospitality when we celebrate others who we know will enrich us. When we act in this way, says Paul, we know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit will be with us.

Paul’s belief makes everything sound so idyllic and easy. It is far from easy, but it shows a fundamentally positive attitude about trust in God. Too often we think we can do everything on our own and we refrain from giving up crucial control, not because we are always resistant to it, but because we don’t think of inviting God into our decision-making processes. We fail to see the spiritual resources we have at our disposal for every choice we make in our lives – whether we see it as a large spiritual decision or a small daily choice. Father, Son, and Spirit are always working with us to create an environment where we are making the healthiest, most loving choices possible. If we could learn from Moses who invited the Lord into his people’s lives despite their waywardness, we would be able to accept the powerful resources at our disposal. God’s love for us is radical. God will go to great lengths to be involved in our lives, but we do have to invite God into our world. We have to relinquish our illusion of control.

As I spend time with people who pray, I am intrigued about their images of the Trinitarian God. Many people like to pray to a Creator God, who can at times be impersonal. Others don’t feel a need to pray to Jesus Christ because they want to go directly to the big God. Still others have little regard for the Spirit’s animating presence in the world. It is good and right for us to contemplate the nuances of God and the various ways God relates to us. We see the fullness of the intense love God has for us and we allow in the various mean and ways that God will be present to us to help us. God is going to pull out all the stops. God has already placed within us the desire to be with God. Now God merely wants to reveal his true self to us.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: In Genesis, Abram is called by God to go forth to an unknown land to be blessed my many descendents. Lot goes with him. Abram sets up an altar to the Lord in the land given to him. Abram grew rich in livestock; so did Lot. They quarreled over the use of the land so they decided to equitably divide the land. Abram settled the land of Canaan and Lot took Jordan Plain. Abram had a vision from the Lord that he would have offspring from his own issue. God made a covenant with Abram promising his protection. Abram’s name was changed to Abraham and Sarai became Sarah. As Sarai had no children, Hagar bore Abram a son called Ishmael. Hagar mistreated Sarai who was humiliated that she could not bear children. The Lord again appeared to Abraham by the Terebinth at Mamre. When Abraham provided hospitality to three mysterious guests, the Lord rewarded Abraham with the promise on an heir. Sarah laughed when she heard she would become pregnant and would bear Abraham a son.

Gospel: As the Sermon on the Mount continues, Jesus warns against judging others because the measure by which one measures will be the measure used against him or her. Further sayings exhort people to keep sacred what is holy and to pass through the narrow gate instead of the one that leads to destruction. You will know a person by his or her actions just as a tree can be known by its fruits. One’s faith is to be rooted in the person of Jesus. Faith is like a house built on solid ground that can withstand strong winds and buffeting rains. When Jesus finishes the Sermon, the crowds are astounded with his wisdom and power. Jesus then goes to Capernaum where he meets a centurion whose servant is paralyzed by an illness. He asks Jesus to cure his servant but only needs to heed the words of Jesus to believe in his power to heal.

Saints of the Week

Tuesday: Aloysius Gonzaga, S.J., priest (1568-1591), gave up a great inheritance to join the Jesuits in 1585 in his dreams of going to the missions. However, when a plague hit Rome, Gonzaga served the sick and dying in hospitals where he contracted the plague and died within three months. He is a patron saint of youth.

Wednesday: Paulinus of Nola, bishop (353-431) was a prominent lawyer who married a Spaniard and was baptized. Their infant son died while in Spain. He became a priest and was sent to Nola, near Naples, where he lived a semi-monastic life and helped the poor and pilgrims.

John Fisher, bishop and martyr (1469-1535) taught theology at Cambridge University and became the University Chancellor and bishop of Rochester. Fisher defended the queen against Henry VIII who wanted the marriage annulled. Fisher refused to sign the Act of Succession. When the Pope made Fisher a cardinal, the angry king beheaded him.

Thomas More, martyr (1478-1535) was a gifted lawyer, member of Parliament¸scholar, and public official. He was reluctant to serve Cardinal Woolsey at court and he resigned after he opposed the king’s Act of Succession, which would allow him to divorce his wife. He was imprisoned and eventually beheaded.

Friday: Nativity of John the Baptist (first century) was celebrated on June 24th to remind us that he was six months older than Jesus, according to Luke. This day also serves to remind us that, as Christ is the light of the world, John must decrease just as the daylight diminishes. John’s birth is told by Luke. He was the son of the mature Elizabeth and the dumbstruck Zechariah. When John was named, Zechariah’s tongue was loosened and he sang the great Benedictus.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Jun 19, 1558. The opening of the First General Congregation, nearly two years after the death of Ignatius. It was summoned by Fr. Lainez, the Vicar General. Some trouble arose from the fact that Fr. Bobadilla thought himself entitled to some share in the governance. Pope Paul IV ordered that the Institute of the Society should be strictly adhered to by all Jesuits.
• Jun 20, 1626. The martyrdom in Nagasaki, Japan, of Blesseds Francis Pacheco, John Baptist Zola, Vincent Caun, Balthasar De Torres, Michael Tozo, Gaspar Sadamatzu, John Kinsaco, Paul Xinsuki, and Peter Rinscei.
• Jun 21, 1591. The death of St Aloysius Gonzaga, who died from the plague, which he caught while attending the sick.
• Jun 22, 1611. The first arrival of the Jesuit fathers in Canada, sent there at the request of Henry IV of France.
• Jun 23, 1967. Saint Louis University's Board of Trustees gathered at Fordyce House for the first meeting of the expanded Board of Trustees. SLU was the first Catholic university to establish a Board of Trustees with a majority of lay members.
• Jun 24, 1537. Ignatius, Francis Xavier, and five of the companions were ordained priests in Venice, Italy.
• Jun 25, 1782. The Jesuits in White Russia were permitted by the Empress Catherine to elect a General. They chose Fr. Czerniewicz. He took the title of Vicar General, with the powers of the General.

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