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For example Year C 2010 is being replaced week by week with Year C 2013, and so on.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Trinity Sunday Year B 2018

Trinity Sunday (Year B)

(Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40; Romans 8:14-17; Matthew 28:16-20)

Dear People of God, our readings today open up for us a wonderful panoply of Trinitarian glory and goodness, for our deep peace, supreme hope, and undying gratitude.  It all began with Israel as recorded in our first reading:

Ask from one end of the sky to the other: Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live?   Or did any god venture to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation … with strong hand and outstretched arm which the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?

There are biblical scholars today who want to deny the fact, and Israel the glory, of God originally choosing one people to be His own Chosen People.   Uniqueness, for such scholars, necessarily leads to exclusivity, superiority, nationalism and racism, and is therefore -- as the supposed cause of too much of mankind’s struggles and strife throughout history -- to be condemned in the moral estimation of a world denying God’s existence … a modern, social, moral order that condones abortion but criminalizes mere words.

Those biblical scholars, or university professorial writers, concerned with their standing in the semi-closed world of biblical scholarship and, IN ORDER TO MAKE THEMSELVES KNOWN AND NOTED, are always reading, commenting on, and replying to, fellow scholars’ works with ideas of their own, sparked off in the maelstrom of their scholarly activities where they read, read, and read (they must keep up-to-date with what is being said!), skip over, abstract, and absorb as quickly as possible, and reply with their own distinctive (creativity is essential!) and hopefully to-be-noticed (that is of the supreme importance!!) observations.  They have no time to spare, cannot miss the golden opportunities available to them, in order to be more humble and faithful before God awaiting His guidance, they must relate with and respond to men (and women) on what is currently topical, they are too often members of a band-wagon, trying to imitate one outstanding leader (still with us, Deo Gratias!) they cannot match in scholarship or fidelity to the Gospel.

As for the Gospels accounts of Jesus’ life activities, it is suggested, that they are not so much visual reports (at first, second, or third hand), as literary devices, stratagems, devised to back-up some chosen Christian teaching of importance.  Those original Gospel authors were not humble disciples inspired to hand down, transmit, God’s saving truth and the truths concerning the life and death of Jesus, but human geniuses it would seem, ‘scholars’ in fact, centuries ahead of their times, somehow able and determined to write a cleverly devised, non-historical, code-cum-story: not written for believers to believe in, live by, and die for, over the intervening two-thousand years but for fellow ‘scholars’ of the 21 st. century to triumphantly discover, decipher, and unlock for faith-deprived people of today.

However, dear People of God and faithful children of Mother Church, we know that God does choose special minsters destined by Him to be servants of His own good plans and purposes for mankind’s better-being and ultimate salvation.  Israel was indeed chosen by God and remained uniquely honoured as His Chosen People for thousands of years until finally bringing forth the glorious fruit, Mary of Nazareth, and, indeed ultimately, the very Son of God Himself made Flesh, for the establishment of a new and ultimate People of God by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost: the Christian, Catholic Church of today.  Yes, God does make choices – sometimes, indeed, with an outstretched arm as with Israel of old -- and that means for us, as believers and disciples of Jesus Our Lord and Saviour, that we too, each of us individually, have been deliberately chosen by God for His glory, our salvation, and the salvation of mankind:

No one can come to Me unless My Father draws him.

Moreover, our world, our universe, is not -- as so many gratuitously opine -- the result of chances, infinitesimal and untraceable, coalescing out of the chaos of unimaginable powers and countless conflicting processes over many millions of years before ultimately heading for inevitable self-destruction into the void of oblivion … No! Our world has been deliberately willed and created by the God Who shows His hand by choosing and then by speaking with love – originally from the midst of the fire on Sinai, then by His continuing words of the Law, the teachings of the Prophets given to Israel for her formation and guidance; until now, ultimately and definitively, in and through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, His Word-made-Flesh, proclaimed in and through His Church – because He still loves His creation, and still wills to share His love with those He originally made in His own image and likeness.

Such is the beginning of a series of blessings ever more wonderful and unimaginably beautiful.   Let us move on to our second reading from St. Paul:

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 so that we may also be glorified with Him.

With those words St. Paul refers to a transcendent blessing won for us by Our Lord Jesus: for, by dying in our flesh He destroyed our death, and by rising -- glorified in the Spirit -- He restored our Life.  That is, by His transformation of His human horror of dying on the Cross rejected by those to whom He had been sent, into an act of sublime obedience and supreme love for His Father and His Fathers plans for us, He shattered the tyrannical hold of death over human beings and their experience of life.  Having risen from the dead glorified in His human flesh, He bestows, in fulfilment of the Father’s promise, His Spirit upon His Church: to wipe away human guilt, correct our personal sins and sinfulness, indeed, to set us free for Himself and His Father’s Kingdom.  Thereby He gives us the hope of sharing in Him, as living members of His Body and adopted children of God, in the divine life of eternal Trinitarian beatitude which is His, with the Spirit, before the face of His heavenly Father.

Such forgiveness of sins is a most wonderful blessing indeed.  After all:

What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  For, the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.  (Matthew 16:26f.)

Of course, there are some who like to think that they can distract themselves from the awareness of right and wrong characteristic of Christian humanity and learn to forget God and all traces of any sensitivity to sin or awareness of personal responsibility.  Of them the psalmist says:

Sin lurks deep in the hearts of the wicked, forever urging them on to evil deeds. They have no fear of God to hold them back.  Instead, in their conceit, they think they can hide their evil deeds and not get caught.  Everything they say is crooked and deceitful; they are no longer wise and good.  They lie awake at night to hatch their evil plots instead of planning how to keep away from wrong. (TLB.  Psalm 36:1-4)

However, though they may, to some extent, hide their sins from themselves, and though their eyes may refuse to recognize or their minds to admit the truth about themselves, nevertheless, God is the One Who sees all and knows all, and He hates wickedness; above all, He hates the wickedness of those who claim to be innocent of wrong-doing, holy without Him:

With You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.  Oh, continue Your loving-kindness to those who know You, and Your righteousness to the upright in heart.     The workers of iniquity have fallen; they have been cast down and are not able to rise. (Psalm 36:9-10,12)

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10)

For all who, on the other hand, live humbly in Jesus by the Spirit for the Father, the gift of forgiveness of sins and freedom from their enslavement brings into our lives a truly sublime experience of peace and hope.

The next blessing Jesus offers us is inconceivable because St. Paul tells us 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 so that we may be glorified with Him.

St. Paul is therefore able to speak of the “glory of the children of God”.  For the present time, the fullness of that consuming glory is, as I said, something we cannot possibly conceive, for it is heavenly and transcends all earthly categories or human imagining.  However, we can begin to experience of something of that heavenly glory here on earth, because it is given us – even here and now -- to enter into communion with the Father, in the Son, by the Holy Spirit in accordance with the explicit prayer of Jesus (John 17:5, 24):

Father, I desire that they also, whom You gave Me, may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me. 

That means that we are able to have, even now, some share in the Son’s loving relationship with His Father by the Holy Spirit: in Jesus, we too can commune with the Father, speak personally with Him as His children and experience His Fatherly love and care for us, as the Spirit of Jesus -- gently working in our spirit and guiding us along His ways – forms us ever more and more in Jesus’ likeness.  In that way, in Jesus and with Him, we can come to know that we are not left to ourselves and that, despite our weakness, whatever our need, we will never be left alone:

Indeed, the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered each to his own, and will leave Me alone.  And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. (John 16:32)

If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. (John 14:23)

(Father) I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them. (John 17:26)

And so, dear People of God, there is every right reason for our whole-hearted celebration of the Most Holy Trinity today: for, thanks to Jesus, we know by faith, and can appreciate in our spiritual experience, something of the love of the Father: that love from all ages, which upholds our world and embraces us; that intimate and abiding love which is ever at hand to comfort, guide, and protect us; that inviting love, to which we can give whole-hearted response following the wisdom of Jesus’ words and example in the power of His most Holy Spirit.

For such incomparable blessings we are undyingly grateful to Jesus, Our Lord and Saviour, because it is He alone Who both reveals the Father and bequeaths to us His Most Holy Spirit:

Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, except through Me.” (John 14:6)

The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (John 14:26)

And Jesus does all this for us through His faithful Spouse, Mother Church, which continues to do as He originally commanded her:

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, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Therefore, dear People of God, our gratitude to the Father, to His Son -- our Lord and Saviour -- and to the Most Holy Spirit, necessarily holds also Mother Church in its embrace.  And although Mother Church is not yet become the ‘spotless Bride of Christ’ of which we hear in the letter to the Ephesians (5:25-27):

A glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, holy and without blemish;

nevertheless, ever gleaming through the stains of our collective weakness and willfulness, her love for Her Lord and Spouse is unfailing; and, being blessed by His Father as the chosen instrument of mankind’s salvation and channel of His grace, we recognize her as our Mother and see in her the likeness of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, to whose tender care and prayers Jesus committed us by His dying wish and command.

When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!”  Then, to His disciple, “Behold, your mother!”  (John 19:26-27)