2012-06-03, Most Holy Trinity B, Graduation and The Holy Trinity

Homily 06-03-12
Most Holy Trinity, B, 7:00, 10:00 am Masses
Dt 4:32-34, 39-40; Ps 33:4-5, 6, 9, 18-19, 20, 22; Rom 8:14-17; Mt 28:16-20

(Scriptures included after homily)

Maybe it’s a silly question, but have you ever been to a graduation?  We’ve had three in our family this past month.  It’s funny how a graduation can be experienced in so many different ways.  It can be a well-deserved reward or a welcome relief after a lot of hard work.  It may mark the end of close friendships and the beginning of new ones.  It might even be the gateway to a whole new life in a profession or a job that took many years of preparation.

But regardless of what we think of any particular graduation ceremony, at any educational level, two things are critically important after graduation.  First, that we realize that somewhere in the mess of it all, we actually learned something and we’ve grown from it.  And second, that graduation does not mean closing the book and forgetting it all.  Otherwise, it was all just a big waste of time.  Graduation means taking the next step, using what we’ve learned, and going further.

In today’s Scriptures, we hear of three different graduation examples.  Moses, as the commencement speaker to the Israelites, reminds the people of all they had seen and heard and learned about God their Father, through their Exodus journey.  He reminds them to never forget those lessons and to pass everything they’d learned on to their children.  And if they did, they were promised that their post-graduation lives would prosper.

In a similar vein, St. Paul addresses the Church of Rome with their graduation decree, when he says: Now that you are brothers and sisters in Christ, you are also conferred and honored with a new title.  Now you are called, “Children of God,” CG’s (author’s interpretation).

So, even though we may not have an M.D. or a Ph.D. or even a B.S., if we’ve been baptized, we are each a C.G. – a Child of God!  And the proof of that conferral, the diploma, if you will, is that the Holy Spirit resides with every one of us.  And should any suffering result from that honor or title, that suffering is immediately offered to the Glory of God and toward our salvation in heaven.

The third graduation comes to the Apostles, after having completed their three-year, discipleship education under Jesus.  Within that time, they learned parables and beatitudes.  They watched healings and miracles.  They even went on their own little internship, teaching and healing others by themselves.

Now, in Jesus’ commencement address, the Apostles were commissioned with the ultimate career.  Jesus said, “Go forth and make disciples of all nations.”  That meant, not just the Jews, or the Samaritans, or the local Gentiles, but ALL Nations.  You see, with that level of exposure, the Apostles could not afford to forget one Word, one miracle, or one beatitude.  And yet, they still didn’t quite know it all, either.  What about that ‘virgin birth’?  What was that ‘last supper’ all about?  And what was that comment, about a Trinity?  They didn’t know any of that stuff yet.

But in the years to follow, they would learn.  They would meet and discuss these topics in large gatherings called Councils.  And always guiding them through it all, as He still does for us, is the Holy Spirit.  Jesus promised that He would be with them, with us, always.  And the Holy Spirit is the means.

Today and every Sunday, we profess our faith, our belief, in that same Father, Son and Holy Spirit in who’s Name Jesus commissioned His Apostles ‘to baptize the world.’  And in our baptisms, and through this Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, we share in the divine and consubstantial unity of God.  And yet, here we are, still asking what that really means.  Well, after four hundred years of debate and discussion, of formulation and proposal, a beautiful, though ‘weakly inadequate ’ description of the Holy Trinity was composed in a Profession of Faith called the Athanasian Creed, in the mid-fifth century.

As we continue in our own post-graduate, Catholic educations, I’d like to share a piece of that Athanasian Creed with you this morning, in celebration of the Most Holy Trinity.  It begins:

Whoever wishes to be saved, needs above all to hold the Catholic faith; unless each one preserves this whole and inviolate, he will, without a doubt, perish in eternity.

But the Catholic faith is this, that we venerate one God in the Trinity, and the Trinity in oneness; neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance; for there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit; but the divine nature of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is one, their glory is equal, their majesty is coeternal.

Of such a nature – as the Father is, so is the Son, so also is the Holy Spirit; the Father is uncreated, the Son is uncreated, and the Holy Spirit is uncreated; the Father is infinite, the Son is infinite, and the Holy Spirit is infinite; the Father is eternal, the Son is eternal, and the Holy Spirit is eternal; and nevertheless there are not three eternals but one eternal; just as there are not three uncreated beings, nor three infinite beings, but one uncreated, and one infinite;

similarly the Father is almighty, the Son is almighty, and the Holy Spirit is almighty; and yet there are not three almightys but one almighty; thus the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God; and nevertheless there are not three gods, but there is one God; so the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, and the Holy Spirit is Lord; and yet there are not three lords, but there is one Lord; because just as we are compelled by Christian truth to confess singly each one person as God, and also Lord, so we are forbidden by the Catholic religion to say there are three gods or three Lords.

The Father was not made, nor created, nor begotten by anyone.  The Son is from the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten.  The Holy Spirit is from the Father and the Son, not made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

There is, therefore, one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits; and in this Trinity there is nothing first or later, nothing greater or less, but all three Persons are coeternal and coequal with one another, so that in every respect, as has already been said above, both unity in Trinity, and Trinity in unity must be venerated.

Therefore, let him who wishes to be saved, think thus concerning the Trinity.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

jmp 06-03-12                        
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Scripture Readings for Mass of 06-03-12
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, B

First Reading: Dt 4:32-34, 39-40

Moses said to the people: “Ask now of the days of old, before your time, ever since God created man upon the earth; ask from one end of the sky to the other: Did anything so great ever happen before?  Was it ever heard of?  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, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, with strong hand and outstretched arm, and by great terrors, all of which the LORD, your God, did for you in Egypt before your very eyes? 

This is why you must now know, and fix in your heart, that the LORD is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other.  You must keep his statutes and commandments that I enjoin on you today, that you and your children after you may prosper, and that you may have long life on the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you forever.”

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 33:4-5, 6, 9, 18-19, 20, 22

R.  Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Upright is the word of the LORD, and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right; of the kindness of the Lord the earth is full.
R.
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made; by the breath of his mouth all their host.  For he spoke, and it was made; he commanded, and it stood forth.
R.
See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him, upon those who hope for his kindness, To deliver them from death and preserve them in spite of famine.
R.
Our soul waits for the LORD, who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us who have put our hope in you.
R.

Second Reading:  Rom 8:14-17

Brothers and sisters:  For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a Spirit of adoption, through whom we cry, “Abba, Father!”  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.

Gospel:  Mt 28:16-20

The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they all saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.  Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

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