Saturday, June 02, 2012

Holy Trinity: We're part of God and part of his work (Sunday homily)

Last week was Pentecost—the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Today we reflect on the Holy Trinity.
What’s the connection?

When we receive the Holy Spirit,
He brings us into the life of God himself.

It’s like our church. A lot of folks drive by it;
they know people here;  
maybe they’ve been here for a festival.

But until you pass through the doors, 
you aren’t actually “inside” the church.

In a similar way, we may read about God, hear about God,
but until we are born again in the Holy Spirit,
we aren’t “in” the life of the Trinity.

This is what making the sign of the Cross means:
Jesus’ death on the Cross opens the door to God’s inner life;
then the waters of baptism bring us there.

When we say these things—“we enter the inner life of God”—
This is an astonishing thing to say.

Let me contrast this with other world religions.

Islam insists there is a gulf between us and God
that cannot be crossed.

Buddhism says very little that’s definite about God;
God is largely a question-mark.

Hinduism looks at God and the world
as a jumble of contradictions, we can’t hope to unravel.

Don’t get me wrong—we all ask many of the same questions.
And as Vatican II said, there are elements of truth in all these religions.

But as Christians, we make a unique statement.
We assert very confidently that we can penetrate the mystery of this world.
We claim to know some very definite things about God and his plan for us.
And we don’t just say “maybe”—we say, “these things are true!”
That’s what we do when we profess our Creed together.

And the reason we say claim we can know these things,
Is because God himself has given us a key to the mysteries.
That’s who Jesus is!

That’s what it means when he says:
“I am the way, the truth, and the life—
no one comes to the Father except through me.”

To be a Christian is to go beyond the veil.

Because Jesus also said,
he would give us the Spirit to lead us
into the fullness of the truth.

That’s a promise that, as St. Anselm said,
Faith really can seek understanding;
that knowledge and faith go together.

That’s why Christianity gave birth to
great universities a thousand years ago.
That’s why those Christian universities
gave birth to modern science as we know it.

And that’s why, here in Piqua,
we invest so much in our Catholic schools.

Because we believe Jesus gives us
the power to penetrate the deepest mysteries!
He is the light when all other lights go dark.

And this is why we will protect our religious freedom.

As we talked about last week, there are many threats.
Some are bigger than others.
But they aren’t coming from one political party or one direction.
It’s not only the federal mandate about health care,
although that’s the biggest threat.

In Alabama, some vagueness in a new law raises questions:
will churches be breaking the law
if they give food and clothing to illegal immigrants?

In California, there was talk of banning circumcision,
a religious rite important to Jews and Muslims.
Those are just three examples of many I could cite.

You and I must stand up for religious freedom
for the sake of the Truth Christ entrusted to us.
So, the bishops have asked all Catholics, nationwide,
from June 21 to July 4 to tap the power of the Spirit  
by fasting and praying and sacrificing—as one Body—
for our rights to be safeguarded.
They’re calling it the “Fortnight for Freedom.”

In your pews are commitment slips. Please pass them out now.
I am asking everyone—of every age—
to make some personal commitment
to prayer and sacrifice for religious freedom.

Parents, help your kids make an appropriate commitment.
Go ahead now and mark them if you want,
and then put them in the collection basket in a few minutes.

In the vestibule you may have seen a “Commitment Board.”
Right now it’s blank.
We’re going to fill it with all these commitments.
We’ll record them at both parishes
so everyone can support each other in this.

What you turn in today we’ll put on the boards by next weekend.
Next week we’ll see if more folks want to make commitments.
We’ll keep doing this until we complete the Fortnight for Freedom.

Being part of God’s inner life means being part of his work.
No sideline-sitting.
This isn’t someone else’s job.
It’s the task of the whole Body of Christ.

That includes you.
That’s why I’m asking you to decide what part you will take.

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