Sunday, May 26, 2013

Trinity Sunday: God at Work Within Us

When I first met the future Father Don Larson, who was ordained beside me six years later, I’d been a Catholic for almost 25 years—all my life. He’d been Catholic for a year. I came from a Catholic family, had attended Catholic schools for twelve years and a Catholic college for one. His family was Baptist, and his entire Catholic education consisted of meeting with a priest once a week for nine or ten months.

From such different experiences, you’d think we’d have seen the Church and her teachings somewhat differently. That’s only natural. In fact, there wasn’t one thing, not one doctrine, not one issue, on which we disagreed in the slightest way.

How do you account for that?

I can think of no other answer than the words we heard Jesus say in today’s Gospel reading: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth…”

Our untroubled acceptance of Church teaching was a gift from God, not something that came from us or even from the hard work of those who taught us the faith. It was, in a word, supernatural.

The Scripture readings today help us think about the infinite mystery of the Holy Trinity in different ways. The first reading and psalm emphasize the work of the Trinity in Creation; in the Epistle, St. Paul shows us how the Trinity fills us with love and grace. But the Gospel today focuses on the Trinity and truth. It reminds us that Trinity doesn’t only work for us, but in us.

While I was praying the Liturgy of the Hours this morning, these beautiful words jumped off the page of my breviary: The Father utters the Truth, the Son is the Truth he utters, and the Holy Spirit is the Truth.
That antiphon sums up this morning’s Gospel. The revelation of God’s truth was complete in Jesus, but not completed without the sending of the Spirit. We don’t know or live our faith only by means of the printed pages of the Bible, but by the Word of God dwelling in our hearts.

In a 20th century spiritual classic, The Soul of the Apostolate, Abbot Jean-Baptiste Chautard explains what this means. Provided we don’t stand in the way, the Trinity, living within us, raises us up to think, judge, love, will, suffer and labor with God, by God, in God, and like God. Our outwards acts become the manifestation of the life of Jesus in us, and we can say, like St. Paul, “it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.” (Gal 2:20)

Last week we celebrated the visible fruits of the Spirit in our parish—wonderful works of charity and stewardship. This week we recognize their source: the supernatural life that is invisible but which causes our parishioners to carry out God’s will in daily life.

Next week we will celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi, the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, and we will be reminded that this supernatural life is nourished by the Eucharist we receive.

So much to think about! But more important, so much to pray about. Sometimes our difficulty accepting what the Church teaches comes not from too much thinking but from too little praying. The answer to many difficulties doesn’t come from outside, but from the Spirit speaking in our hearts.

This morning, I was very pleased to welcome back from Washington, D.C. our former Youth Ministry Coordinator, Jeremy Keong, as the next speaker in our series of faith testimonies. He has posted his inspiring--and richly theological--testimony on his blog. You can (and should!) read it here.

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