Today, this Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary (Counted) Time, Jesus tells us: “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” St. Paul reminds us today that Jesus died for the ungodly—and that would be all of us. We did not deserve or earn our salvation, but we were given salvation anyway!
It is hard to imagine this kind of thinking—especially in our world of commercialism—you know: the giving without selling or trading something. (Sorry if I sound a bit cynical…) Our system is based on quid pro quo, reward and punishment, and justice as retribution instead of unconditional love and mercy. This much of anything requires this much payment. The problem is we all tend to look at all our relationships as having some sort of fundamental cost to them—and the divine doesn’t work that way according to Jesus.
We’ve got to admit that this system of exchange seems reasonable to almost everybody today. If we’re honest, it makes sense to us, too, and seems fair. It’s how we are trained to see the world and how things work. The only trouble is, Jesus doesn’t believe it at all, and He is our spiritual teacher and leader.
Let’s look at a relationship without cost: there would be no “you owe me” but instead there would be no comparison between what we give and what we get. Hard to do—as we feel we’ve worked hard to get to our rightful place and position. But if we are truly Christian, we need to listen to what we are told in the Gospels. We seek a world of mercy, forgiveness, and unconditional love. But in our society we worry about anything “free” given to those who do not seem to have earned the right to—whatever.
What we have forgotten is none of us “deserve” anything! It’s all a gift from God. We need to begin to live in the kingdom of God, instead of the kingdoms of this world or we will think exactly like the world and not like Jesus. We have to stop counting, measuring, comparing and weighing. We have to stop saying “I deserve” and deciding who does not deserve. None of us deserves anything; remember: we haven’t earned our salvation but are given it anyway. Conversion to this way of thinking is hard to do though, unless had the chance to experience that infinite mercy and realize that everything is a gift from God—all the time. Food for thought…
Today we celebrate another mystery of our faith: The Paschal Mystery, the great gift of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. St. Thomas Aquinas posed this question hundreds of years ago: Why did Jesus give us his Body? We hear Jesus promise that whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood “remains in me and I in him.” So: you are what you eat!
As human beings we rely on the physical presence of loved ones to save us from loneliness and isolation—solitary confinement is one of the worst possible punishments! (And we know that no man is an island…) The Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Body and Blood overcomes the “real absences” that besiege us. He is the nourishment that satisfies our hunger and thirst for goodness, mercy and righteousness.
As human beings, everything we know comes to us through our bodily senses. Without the Eucharist, the Body of Christ, we might be tempted to reduce Jesus to an abstract, intellectual or impersonal concept or idea. Our body is our “gateway” to knowledge. In the Eucharist we know the divine person of Jesus. We eat and drink and we are saved because when we truly carry Jesus within us, we will be as living tabernacles in this world.
The bread from heaven imparts to us “eternal life.” When we partake of this bread, we have God within us and we begin to live forever. All present are fed, all are sustained and nourished. This is a miracle and a mystery; this is our grace and redemption. Lord, You satisfy our hungry hearts!
This weekend we acknowledge the truth that the one God is three Persons (Trinity) and adore His unity. This is not a peripheral matter, for “bare monotheism is ultimately barren.” Evidence of this “bare monotheism” is seen in how far too many Christians think that the one God is merely one Person; that Jesus is just a really Great Guy who was created to save us; that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal “force.” Here are four beautiful and liberating implications of the Trinitarian reality of the one God that we’d be missing out on if God were indeed merely one Person:
Let us respond to this awesome reality with the manner in which we live: willing what is best for others, forging wholesome relationships, and serving as witnesses of God’s saving plan for humanity. Following that plan ensures we pattern in our lives the Trinitarian nature of the one God and grow in union with Him.
David J Conrad
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. We've all heard the various descriptive explanations for it—three persons in one God: like a triangle with three sides, still one triangle. Like a chicken egg, with a shell, a yolk, and a white, still one egg. Like an apple, with skin, flesh, and seeds, still one apple. Like water as ice, as liquid, and steam, still H2O. And, of course, like the three-lobed leaf of a shamrock…thank you, St. Patrick!
Doctrines like the Trinity develop from an experience of the divine, an original encounter with God about which a person tries to talk. We memorize the doctrine but we can't let the understanding of one person or one time period be the litmus test of our faith. Our faith will falter if we try to rely, or depend, on somebody else's description of their experience of God's presence. It's not enough, maybe, because it's not our own. As our understanding of the world grows, as our time in history changes, as our life situation develops, so must our understanding of God grow and change and develop. What really matters is not how someone else described their experience of God, but how we experience the presence of God. That's not to say that we can't learn from our ancestors in faith—we do. Hearing how they have experienced the divine can help us recognize God in our own personal experiences.
As Catherine LaCugna (a feminist Catholic theologian and author of God For Us) says, “The nature of the church should manifest the nature of God.” She writes: “The doctrine of the Trinity reminds us that in God there is neither hierarchy nor inequality, neither division nor competition, but only unity in love amid diversity. The Christian community is the image or icon of the invisible God when its communitarian life mirrors the inclusivity of divine love.” So, All Are Welcome! They’ll Know We Are Christians by our love! What a model for all the world and for us!
Each time we read and ponder the scriptures, each time we pray, each time we reach out in love to another person, we see God revealed anew, among and within us, in the here and now. Trinity=Community. Glory be to God, the Creator; Jesus, the Redeemer; and the Spirit, the Sanctifier!
Just a Note: After today’s celebration of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity the Music Ministry begins its summer hiatus of rest and recouperation, relaxation and respite after a very busy year of service. Please hug and thank any member for their commitment and love for St. Aidan, evinced in all their dedication and work. They will return to sing in September—blessings on them for their music. Keep singing!
David J. Conrad, M.A. Theology. Our Director of Faith Formation.