Homily – Trinity Sunday
2 Corinthians 13:11-13
“God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…” (John 3:16) – one of the most well-known and beloved verses in the Bible. This is linked with another favorite passage from St. John, in his first letter: “God is love.” (1 John 4:8b)
Now, love requires an object – it’s not just a fuzzy, vague, good feeling. Love is directed towards something, or especially someone. If God is love, then that means that even before the creation of the universe, there must have been more than one person within the Godhead! Christians believe that this was revealed to us by the coming of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, into the world to show us the love of the Father. If Jesus was fully divine, as well as fully human, then that told us something essential about who God is – that God is a communion of persons united in love, a love which itself is a Person, the Holy Spirit. This is what we call the Blessed Trinity.
Would it have been enough for Jesus to come to us and simply tell us how much God loves us? Perhaps. But He went much, much further – He demonstrated it by offering His life for us. As He said at the Last Supper, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:9-17) He loved us to the end, making a complete gift of Himself for our sake.
When two people fall in love, they want to do the same thing – they want to give themselves completely to the other. When I prepare couples for marriage, I tell them that there’s a reason that Catholic weddings take place in front of an altar – the altar represents Christ and His sacrifice, and the couple are imitating Christ as they give themselves to each other in the Sacrament of Matrimony. They each take all that they are, all that they have been, and all that they hope to be, and place it in the hands of their spouse. “This is a great mystery,” says St. Paul (Ephesians 5:32), explaining that in marriage the covenant of love between husband and wife is an image of the bond Christ has made with His Church.
Priests and those in consecrated life do something similar – they offer their lives to God in service to God’s people. But this is not just true for married couples or the “professionally religious” – all of us are called to make a gift of ourselves to God for the salvation of others. As St. John tells us in his first letter, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we must also love one another.” (1 John 4:10-11)
Above the statue of St. Thérèse of Lisieux in the courtyard behind the church is a quote from her: “Everything is grace.” Everything is a gift. Our very life is a gift from the hands of God through our parents; our families, our friends, our talents, the beauty of creation, our desire to serve our community, our nation, our world, and our Church, our successes, and even our trials, if seen in the light of the Cross – all are gifts. The question each one of us needs to ask is, how do I use the gifts I have been given? For myself, or for others? Do I offer what I can spare after I have taken care of my own interests, or do I imitate the One I call “Lord”, who gave everything He had that we might be saved?
Bishop Estévez recently issued a Pastoral Letter on Stewardship, One Faith, One Family – these were mailed to all registered parishioners, and there are additional copies on the tables by the doors of the church. In this letter, he reflects on the Sacred Heart of Jesus as a model of the unity of giving and receiving: “The Heart of Jesus receives everything from the Father in the power of the Spirit, and in return, gives everything back to the Father in the power of the Spirit” (p. 6, note 3). This is the model we are asked to imitate.
For our Bishop, Stewardship is Jesus Christ – especially in the Most Holy Eucharist, where His love is “taken, blessed, broken, and given to nourish, shape, and transform a community of faith in service to God throughout the world” (p. 5). When we come to celebrate the Eucharist, we join ourselves to Jesus in this offering – we place ourselves, as it were, on the altar, so that the Lord may take us into the heart of the Trinity, bless us to become a blessing to others, break our hearts open to the needs of those who are wounded for lack of love, and give us back to the world as witnesses to the love of God.
Holy Family Parish is already responding to our Bishop’s call to Stewardship. So many of you give so generously of your time and resources to help build our community and serve those in need. In the coming months, we wish to make Stewardship a central focus of all our efforts – and not just in church, but in our families, our friendships, our workplaces, indeed in all aspects of our lives. Bishop Estévez has invited families to reflect on Stewardship using the discussion questions at the end of each section of his letter. I am asking our ministries to do the same, with the assistance of our Stewardship Committee. And each month, one Sunday will be especially dedicated to the meaning of Stewardship in our life of faith:
- How prayer, especially Eucharistic Adoration and reflection on God’s Word in the Scriptures, can help us to perceive more clearly the gifts that we are called to share.
- How service to our parish community can bring us joy while drawing others to the love of God in Jesus Christ.
- How, by welcoming all those who cross the threshold of this church, we may show them that they are beloved brothers and sisters and offer them the healing presence of Christ in their lives.
- How sharing our material resources can allow the Gospel message to be spread more widely in our neighborhood, and in our culture.
- How by giving to God our first fruits, and not just what’s left over, can free us to model our lives on the complete gift of self that our Savior made out of love for us.
Let us together learn how we can enter more deeply into the communion of life and love which is the Blessed Trinity by opening our hearts more and more to one another, especially those most in need of our care, concern, and support. In so doing, may we fully live out our Parish’s Mission Statement, to be “United in Christ, Growing in Christ, and Serving Christ in One Another.”
I now invite you to join me in a prayer developed by our Stewardship Committee, which can be found on the inside front cover of your red Worship hymnals:
We praise and thank you for your abiding presence in our lives.
In Your loving kindness, you have blessed our Holy Family Parish
with an abundance of gifts.
United in one Baptism and one faith,
we recognize that all that we have,
all that we are,
and all that we will be
comes from You.
Guide us, so that we may thoughtfully discern our gifts,
prayerfully nurture them
and generously share them with others.
Through your Holy Spirit,
change our hearts so that we may become more committed to faithful discipleship.
Give us wisdom for the journey and provide us with the courage
to remain steadfast in the work of providing acts of service and generous giving.
Help us to faithfully live out our mission to serve You and one another.
Enable us to use wisely the gifts of all in our community
so that they may bear fruit for your Kingdom in abundance.
With grateful hearts, we pray in Jesus’ name.