Sunday, June 03, 2007

Jesus is the Bridge, the Holy Spirit is the Change (Homily for Holy Trinity)

Some people wonder why it is important
to believe God is a Trinity.
They might say,
“I believe in God, that’s what’s important.”

To which I would reply:
“Do you believe in Jesus Christ?
“Do you believe Jesus is—as we pray in our Creed—
“true God from true God…one in being with the Father”?

Because if God is not a Trinity, Jesus is not God.
And then Jesus no longer bridges the gap
between God and us.

You see, everyone who believes in God
realizes how utterly different and apart from us he is.
This is where we get the idea of “fear of God.”
It makes sense. God can, indeed, be frightening.

When I was a boy, there were three elderly sisters
in the house next to ours.
Nobody saw them much, but when you did,
they were yelling or being mean.

As you can imagine, as kids we traded stories
of the witchy things we were sure went on in that house!

Well, some years later, one of the sisters died,
and after that, the other two were different—
they would smile and wave—and before you know it,
we’d actually been inside their house—
there was nothing mysterious.
Just two, frail old women, needing some help.

In that case, the gap was easily bridged.

But the gap between us and God is very different.
Only God can bridge that.

Jesus is the Bridge.*
And if Jesus is not both God and man—
then there is no bridge,
and the vast, un-crossable gulf remains.

Now, what about the Holy Spirit?

Jesus has bridged the chasm; at last, we can cross over!
But still, on either side, are two different “countries.”

As a seminarian, I spent a month in South Korea.
It was a great experience—but a very different culture.
They were very hospitable;
but still, it was hard to feel totally at home there.

That happens right here at home.
We have divisions of race and class—
and people tend to stay “with their own.”

So, even with a bridge, something else has to change hearts and minds to bring both sides together.

We don’t need heaven to become more like earth—
but we do need earth—and all of us—
to become like heaven.

And so Jesus brought the Spirit from the Father:
Jesus is The Bridge; the Holy Spirit is the Change.

You could even call it a kind of “Invasion”—
that’s how the great author C.S. Lewis described it
in his book, Mere Christianity.

He called this world “Enemy-occupied territory”;
and “Christianity is the story of how the rightful king
has landed, you might say…in disguise,
and is calling us all to take part
in a great campaign of sabotage.

”When you go to church you are really listening-in
to the secret wireless from our friends:
that is why the enemy is so anxious
to prevent us from going.”
There is our purpose:
To share the Change the Spirit brings;
to draw people across the Bridge—Jesus—
to live with the Father.

Do you see why being a Christian
not only means believing differently,
but just as much, living differently?
Some of the choices are hard—
that’s the Change the Holy Spirit brings.

And we come to communion because we have chosen:
we’re not with the world that resists change;
we are part of the Kingdom of Jesus—
that is, his Church.

And do you see, now, how a prayer
we may take for granted—the Sign of the Cross—
is so important?
For one, it is a summary of our whole Faith
For another: it is the Banner, the Sign, of his Kingship!

Never be afraid to make the Sign of the Cross;
tell the whole world
where our salvation, and theirs, comes from:
“In the Name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

* For the second week in a row, unawares I used an image that comes from one of the saints; this week it was from St. Catherine of Siena, who described Our Lord as "the Bridge." Many times I pick up ideas but cannot recall where.


Lynne said...

Wonderful homily. I'll be bookmarking it.

Jackie said...

Father Martin,

Great Homily!! I don't think the saints mind if you are reading their works and use some of their ideas. In fact, I would say there is great rejoicing in heaven.

Holiness is attractive as is Truth!!

God Bless

mrsdarwin said...

This is an excellent homily, Father. Good work as usual.

Ellen said...

Happy feast of St. Boniface.

Anonymous said...

Good homily.

Our priest had a similar theme. He tied in a Latin lesson explaining the word pontif is derived from ponstis meaning bridge.


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God bless