May 26, 2018

Very, Very, Very Personable

The Most Blessed Trinity

Three Homilies in One

1. As soon as one hears or speaks the words, “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”, there is the overwhelming temptation to either bless oneself or respond “Amen”. In many ways, it’s muscle memory, defined as “the ability to reproduce a particular movement without conscious thought, acquired as a result of frequent repetition”!

Of course, in our theological language, we automatically identify God as a Trinity. "What" is the Almighty? One God. "Who" is the one God? The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit.  We can draw diagrams, use symbols and offer allegories to help explain the three distinct divine persons united as one God. But that's as far as we can go. Human language and imagination will never understand or fathom this divine reality and mystery.  Such an intellectual response is hardly personal. But, how God responds to you and me, is always personal.

Here is a case in point. When, for example, a deacon, priest or bishop is ordained, much attention is given to the ritual of the liturgy, the choice of Scripture, the music and hymn selection, the power of the prayers, the laying on of hands, and the vesting with the sacred robes of office. However, one sacred action, very personal to each one of them, before being ordained, not only brought them to their knees - it ensured that each one of them would would literally collapse before the almighty power of God. 

But not in fear and humiliation. Instead, to abandon oneself with utmost trust into the very gentle hands and the most loving embrace of the one God, who is Father, who is Son, who is the Holy Spirit. The God who is Fatherly, the God who has a human heart, the God who is a secret intimate friend. One God, and very, very, very personable.

2. Although our human language and imagination will never understand or fathom how the one eternal God is united in Three distinct Persons, the Good News is that because our minds can only go so far, little by little, God gently reveals Himself to us slowly, unfolding for us the pattern of His unimaginable thoughts (Proverbs 8:22-33). We don’t have to be theologians or philosophers. By simple observation we can gain some insight that God is Father of all, creator of all that is visible or hidden from our eyes. (Psalm 8:4-9).

But proving His existence or trying to understanding what God is, is not our goal. Instead it is God’s goal that we should enter into a relationship with Him. God revealed Himself to Abraham and Moses, not only as the creator of everything that is, He revealed Himself as a loving and caring heavenly Father - “I will be your God and you will be my people”.

But the eternal God, wished to draw even closer to us and revel more of Who He is. We can say that Jesus Christ is God's very own self-portrait! But more than that. A portrait can be looked at from a distance. Instead, through Christ's flesh and blood, God allows Himself to reach out and actually touch us, to personally experience the joys and sorrows, the happiness and sufferings of every one of us, wanting to draw us closer and closer into His divine life, talking to us directly with words we can understand, living with us intimately in a love that we can experience, sharing in our joys, in our sorrows, in our pain and also our suffering.

3. Jesus Christ is God being personal with you and me, inviting us even into His own experience of being God - the divine love between Father and Son.  

Of course, our experience of this type of relationship is limited to our own experience or only as great as our best imagination. But Christ continually invites you and me into His very own perfect relationship that He enjoys with the Father - a relationship of the most perfect love between two persons that can ever exist, not contained or constrained, not even by time itself.

Christ invites all of us, all humanity, through His Body and Blood, into the very "divine life" of the One He dares to call “Father”, “Abba”. And that Divine Love - is not a force or a feeling - it has It's own unique personality - in a manner of speaking, the Divine Love between Father and Son can “stand on its own two feet”, bring down mountains and build them up again, create life and evoke fear and wonder; yes - the divine person is the Holy Spirit. Therefore a Christian, filled with God the Holy Spirit, with the same breath of Christ can dare to call God, Father - "Abba".

But here is some practical advice. Don't try to get your head around this! Instead, get your heart around Christ and you will find and experience the greatest intimacy, His very life that God desires to share and draw us into.

What does this mean? The Trinity, that is one God perfectly united as Father, Son and Holy Spirit is not conceptual nor imaginative.  God is relational within His own being and with all creation, ourselves particularly and personally.

It is insufficient to simply bless ourselves to pay tribute to God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Instead, let it mark simply the beginning and the end of our prayer. Taking a visual cue from a deacon, priest or bishop who must lower themselves to the ground beneath their feet, everyone of us and every day, must have the courageous faith to simply abandon ourselves into the very life of God, trusting in His power, His Heart and His life-giving Love, on earth as it is in heaven!

May 19, 2018

Rebuilding Blocks

Vigil of Pentecost

Genesis 11:1-9 & John 7:37-39

Tonight sees us making the necessary preparations in anticipation of tomorrow's great feast day of Pentecost - the celebration of the Holy Spirit's arrival to visibly shape upon this earth, from the building blocks of the disciples, God's Church, for the salvation of the world.

To first demonstrate that we can not do this by ourselves, taken from the selection of readings from Scriptures, Genesis provides us great insight to what happens when we try to design and build, shape and form our own destiny without the Spirit of God.

We commonly call this story the one about the Tower of Babel. In fact, the tower is only one component of a much bigger picture. It has to do with the building of a city, within which there would be designed a tower. Its height would attempt to scrape the sky - a "skyscraper", to grab at heaven. What can we learn from this "Jack and the Beanstalk" story?

When we attempt to take into our own hands the power to build ourselves up - to, in a way, steal the power of the heavens, we will never be able to complete the project, no matter how hard we try.  Adam and Eve made this foolish attempt. So did their offspring, the citizens of Babel. It's when we try to capture God, put Him in a bottle and manipulate His will, for the sake of our own glory, not His.

God ultimately intervenes and topples our fortress. That's what happens to our little sandcastle when the predictable tide comes in. God allows our house of cards to topple. Why? To injure and frustrate us? No. He does so for our own protection. We can not fulfill our God-given destiny from within lives shaped and molded by the world around us, like castles molded from a bucket and spade from a day at the beach.

The event of Babel reminds us that even with the progress of science, technology, our understanding of psychology, the pursuit of prosperity and economic security, there will always be boundaries. Why? Too often, our soul's thirst to reach the heavens is confused with our own sense of insignificance, small, before the immensity of an incredible complex world and enormous mystifying universe. Often, out of fear, there is the temptation to insulate ourselves.

Since the fall of humanity, this has been our disease. But so that we might not become crushed under the weight of our own armor, God comes to our rescue in Christ. He does so to get us back on our feet as workers to build His Church, according to His own design, not ours.

Whereas if we might want to undertake our own project, and need to find all our own strength, and endurance, we might fall back, as we sometimes do, to some sort of energy drink, from strong coffee to red bull! Christ instead calls out and says, "Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink." The only way we can fulfill our God-given destiny and reach our heavenly Father is through Him, with Him, in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit".

Let us pray for the strength that comes from the strong breath of God the Holy Spirit, the strength of Christ who alone can rebuild our toppled egos, strengthen our fragile bodies, and fortify our wounded hearts and desperate souls. This is our prayer on the eve of Pentecost so that we can be a Church made in the image and likeness of Christ's Body, which rose from the dead gloriously and reached the heavens. May the Holy Spirit find now in you and me, not someone exhausted trying to reach the sky, but a humble dwelling ready to receive heaven as its guest here on earth with a willing heart to work for the salvation of the world.

Gardening Kingdom

  We often hear this phrase, “The Kingdom of God ''.  We even pray, “Thy Kingdom Come”.  This “Kingdom” was the hallmark of Our Lord...