Monday, May 23, 2016

A Blue among Blackhawks - Homily for Trinity Sunday (C)

A few weeks ago, our 8th graders received the sacrament of Confirmation. One of the customs at my previous parish was that the priests and deacons would interview the 8th graders and ask them a few questions about the Catholic faith. For example: name the three persons of the Holy Trinity. Sure, that’s a softball question. But I liked to follow up that question by asking them: “So, why is it important that God is three persons?”

That’s much harder. Why is it important that God is three persons?

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Whenever we pray, we probably have an image of who God is. Perhaps He’s a mountain-top God with a big beard (He’s obviously a playoff hockey fan). Perhaps your image of God is that of a friend. Or maybe He is just light or a presence.

But when we consider that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, there comes a certain and very important reality about God: He’s not alone.

That’s important, because when we say that “God is love,” there really is something alive and dynamic going on there. It’s so easy to think that God is alone and that He’s an idea and that when we say “God is love,” that it’s… nice—but ultimately static and isolated and maybe even self-centered: does God really even care about me?

But if God is three persons, that’s a whole different ballgame. Three persons—that’s community. I dare say it’s family. And family is real and it’s love is actual and dynamic and fruitful.

This is the deepest reality of who God is and what we mean when we say “God is love”—He's real, He's dynamic, He’s fruitful, He’s relational. God is family.

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It’s why, when God creates us, He says, “Let us make man in our image.” Us, our—not me, or I.

And we’re made in His image—there is something deep down in us, in our very identity, that longs for communion, that longs to be loved and to give love. It’s why God said, “It is not good for man to be alone”—because deep down in us we long for and really need community. It’s why were born into families—God could have made us in other ways, but He creates us into a family.

Last night, during the 1st period intermission of the Blues game, I went to the grocery store. The Blues make me nervous and, when I’m nervous, I need me some Cheez-Its. (Cheez-Its—not Jesus… but I need Jesus, too!) So, there I am at the Dierbergs and I notice that they are playing the Blues game over the speakers. Very cool. I went down the aisle for the Cheez-Its and there was a couple wearing Blues jerseys. As we passed each other, I couldn’t help but say, “Let’s go Blues!” They laughed, and echoed back: “Let’s go Blues!”

And while it is kinda superficial, even though I didn’t know them, there was a connection there. And a little joy. Somehow, in this crazy little—or big—world in which we live, strangers can be united by something like hockey. And, strangely, we want that.

When Jesus ascended into heaven, His last words to His disciples were to this very effect—not for hockey (as wonderful as hockey is), but to enter into communion. And so He said, “Go,… and baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”—go and baptize in the very communion of the Holy Trinity, the One who is the source of all communion.

God wanted us to be in communion with Him and in communion with others.

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Shoot, right now, there are people at Mass here in Cottleville but also in South County. Here in Missouri and also in Arizona. Late Mass somewhere in Europe and morning Mass somewhere in Brazil and Peru. So many people who have been baptized and who call themselves brothers and sisters of the same Father.

Last weekend, I was blessed to give a retreat at the Servant Sisters in Birmingham, Alabama. While I was there, I needed to take my car to a mechanic—something about my tires. Now, down there in Alabama—it’s Bible Belt Country. Less than 5% of the population is Catholic, so I hear. So, I take my car to the mechanic and he has me wait in the waiting room. In full disclosure, I didn’t wear my black clerics—I went “incognito.” So there I am, waiting in the waiting room, surrounded by what I assumed were not Catholics. I brought my Breviary (my book of prayers) with me—and they look like Sacred Scripture—so I’m thinking all of my Protestant brethren won’t have a second thought about me.

Until I realize that I’m about to make the Sign of the Cross.

If there is one thing that indicates that I’m Catholic, here is it—I’m about to out myself. The Sign of the Cross: the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit: it’s the sign of this communion, it’s the sign of this family.

It’s like the Blues jersey that says, “I’m a Blues fan!” But, have you ever worn a Blues jersey at a Chicago Blackhawks game?

So too, have you ever made the Sign of the Cross in the waiting room of a mechanic shop in central Alabama?

You see, it’s one thing to “wear the jersey” of your favorite team—it’s whole ‘nother thing to “Bleed Blue.”

So too: it’s one thing to simply make the sign of the Cross and to be known as a Catholic fan because of it. It’s a whole ‘nother thing to totally live out the faith.

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There was once a saying among Christians and that was: “They will know we are Christians by our love.” That’s very true.

But I think our culture has pulled the wool over our eyes. We’re so interested in labels and signs and caricatures that we have lost what is at the very heart of things. For the Catholic faith, it’s easy to simply say that if we’re baptized, make the sign of the Cross, and go to Mass—that, hey, I’m Catholic. But, can we say why the Trinity—the very heart of our faith and the source of all that we teach—can we say why the Trinity is important to Catholicism?

You see, you’re not alone.

God has brought you here. And He’s brought you into a family. And into His Church. And into His very life. Because He doesn’t want you to go it alone. And if there’s one thing that our culture is about, it’s going it alone: the I-phone, the Me-project, thinking that we're isolated and islands. Isn't it true that we make life so much about what we have to do that we forget that we’re all in this together?-- that we need each other?

How many couples are trying to raise kids on their own, when all around them in this parish there are seasoned couples who have been through what they are going through and could provide wisdom and help!

How many teens and twenty-something—and, let’s be real, sixty- and seventy-something too—how many of us are searching for the Truth and the meaning of Life, but are going about it all by ourselves?

How many of us are trying to totally live out that faith—to love and to “Bleed Blue” if you will—but think that we are the only ones stumbling through the dark? Blues fans among Blackhawks....

You’re not alone! You have people in the pews all around you to help you. You have priests. And not only here and throughout the world, but also you have the saints and their prayers and their writings. There is a whole communion surrounding us to help us. Because you’re not alone!

Right now, there are Sisters praying for you. At this Mass, I will be praying for you. And maybe you will pray for the person next to you—which means that it’s likely that people here in this church will be praying for you. You are not alone!

This is why the Trinity is important: because God is not alone and He wants all of us—all who are His “children scattered throughout the world” to be joined to Him as one family of faith—with one Father, who art in heaven; with one Lord, Jesus Christ; with one faith; with one baptism; united under the Sign of the Cross-- known not simply for the sign, but for our love. Because we're not alone....

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