We weren't at today's Mass when Father Jeff preached. We went to another Mass at our parish, where another Oratorian preached an inspiring homily. But when Father Jeff posted this homily as a note on his facebook page, I knew I wanted this homily to have a wider audience.
Guest Post by Fr. Jeff Calia, C.O.
It’s nice, to finally have an opportunity to preach on Trinity Sunday! Two years ago, my own first Mass fell on this feast day, and my Oratorian superior preached (that’s also the reason I’m wearing this vestment). Last year on Trinity Sunday, I found myself celebrating Mass in the media room of a racetrack in Milwaukee, where I was serving as Catholic chaplain for the IndyCar Series for the weekend. I had about a half-hour window between drivers’ meetings, and I was so nervous about the time limit that I celebrated the entire Mass in 19 minutes, including a 3-sentence homily!
I said then that for Three to equal One, as we profess of the Holy Trinity and celebrate in a particular way today, then there must be an awfully strong bond among the Three; otherwise, the equation doesn’t make sense. I could think of some pretty good uses for the glue that holds the Trinity together! So what is it? That “super glue” that bonds Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together so strongly that they are truly One God, is love. And we are privileged to be invited to share in that love – to experience it, and not only that, but to allow it to shine forth through us in the way we live and especially in the way we treat each other.
But what does that mean, really? It sounds all warm and fuzzy, but we just heard St. Paul say that if we want to enjoy a full participation in God’s love as His adopted children in Jesus Christ, if we want to be coheirs with him to eternal life, we have to suffer with Him! Christ shows us through His Passion and Cross that true love inevitably involves suffering, because when we truly love, we become inextricably linked in a way that the joys and afflictions of those we love become our own. We become more concerned for them than for ourselves, and we are willing to sacrifice for their benefit.
This is what we are made for. We read in Genesis that God made them, male and female, in His own image and likeness. And if God is love, if His defining characteristic is love, then what the author of Genesis means is that we are made in the image & likeness of love. It’s in our “DNA” – we live for love – to love and to be loved. There is no higher or more noble activity for us than to offer ourselves as a gift to another, to be willing to sacrifice for the good of another. This is what we are called to in our lives – to love.
Indeed, it is the vocation of every human person to love. Our vocation is the way of life that is most suited to us, the path that will most readily bring us to the fullness of life, and ultimately to eternal salvation. For every human person, our basic vocation is to love, to share in the mission of Jesus Christ to bear His love in the world. But then, taking into account the factors that are unique about us, we each have a more specific vocation from the God who made us and knows us better than we know ourselves. The way of life most suited to most is marriage – expressing love in the context of a lifelong commitment as husband and wife, who offer themselves to each other as a complete and total self-gift, and open themselves to receive children as the fruit of their love. In marriage, the mutual self-giving of husband and wife is meant to mirror the love within the Trinity, so that the “super glue” of Trinitarian life may bind them together as one. Their experience of love also motivates them to fruitfulness in service to the Church, which they build up in ways that only they can, bearing the Gospel through words and actions in their homes, in their places of work and leisure, in the community and in the public square, as well as by participating in particular aspects of the Church’s ministry – particularly in the case of permanent deacons.
But of course, not all of us are called to married life. For some, the path God has in store for living our vocation to love is in a life consecrated to the Lord in a special way – as a religious sister or brother, or as a priest in the service of a local diocese or a religious community. In these vocations, we commit to making a lifelong gift of ourselves to the Lord. Our exclusive relationship is not with a human husband or wife, but with the Lord Himself. And our vocation, our mission to love, is expressed concretely in our service to the Church, the Bride of Christ, entrusted to our care in a special way. And I would add that I have experienced this in a profound way in my own ministry, in the various ways the Lord has given me a share in His care and affection for you. I do not claim to love you perfectly as the Lord does, but to the extent that I am able to love you it is with the same love that I have experienced first from Him.
Regardless of our specific vocation, though, love is never abstract, because it is not an emotion, a sentiment, or a desire. It is a decision, a choice we make for another, putting their needs, their goodness and well-being ahead of our own. So we carry out our mission to love in concrete ways, extending the love of the Trinity in the world.
At the center of our experience of God’s love, which makes our love possible, is the Holy Eucharist, the sacrifice of thanksgiving that we offer to the Father, through, in and with the Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. There is no greater participation in the divine love of the Holy Trinity on this Earth than the offering of the Holy Eucharist. Yet it is merely a foretaste of the heavenly kingdom that should be the ultimate goal of everything we do, everything we give ourselves to. What a truly awesome thing for us to be invited to participate in.
If we keep the Eucharist at the center of our lives, we will never forget who we are, and whose we are. Even when we suffer for Christ, we will be able to remain faithful. In fact, our suffering will make us more faithful as it causes us to place our trust ever more firmly in Christ, who will truly be “with [us] always, until the end of the age” (Mt. 28:20). We will always have recourse to the graces we’ll need – wisdom, courage, and especially perseverance – to carry out well our mission as agents of love for the people in our lives.
So as we celebrate today and as we are sent forth and return to our mission to love, may the Holy Trinity - in whose love we were made, by whose love we were called, and through whose love we love, bless and guide us in every way.