This week we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Trinity. Though we are in the midst of a series of Sunday feasts from Pentecost to Corpus Christi (next week) in our liturgical calendar we have actually gone back to Ordinary Time. The word ‘ordinary’ derives from the word ‘ordinal’ or counted. Even if we think of ‘ordinary time’ as the time between feasts, there is nothing ordinary about this time. Time is never simply ordinary. Even though we live most of our lives in what seems nondescript, the very mysteries we have been celebrating from Easter through the Ascension and Pentecost are so exquisite that to forget that we live in these mysteries our entire lives is truly to have missed the point. As Christians we live in light of the resurrection of Jesus. Every aspect of our lives is permeated with the presence of God especially through the reception of the sacraments. Jesus, the Son of God, died and rose, leaving us His Holy Spirit to empower and guide us home to Heaven where God, Three in One, reigns in glory forever. On the Feast of the Holy Trinity we are reminded that our God has not left us alone to figure out the way home to Him, but through the mystery of the Trinity, leads us each step of the way, every day of our lives. There is nothing ordinary about that at all.
No matter the length of our days, from birth to death we are given various gifts which help us to endure many challenges, to share in many joys, and to know God’s love. Since most of life can seem routine it is easy to get caught up in the things we have to do such that we forget to bring God into it with us or to find Him here in our midst. The Feast of the Holy Trinity reminds us that from the beginning of time the Father meant for us to enjoy everything He has made. He gave us the whole of creation: from the very stars which inhabit the cosmos for us to gaze at in wonder and awe to the green grass under our feet, God gave us every created thing for us to enjoy and to care for. In addition to that which is tangible, He also gave us the gift of freedom. Given that we were created with that gift, and given that we did abuse it, God gave the greatest gift, which is the gift of His unconditional love. In other words, He gave us the gift of His mercy and compassion, which means that He will never stop forgiving us because His love has no end. Therefore, the Father knew He would send the Son as a gift of that mercy and forgiveness so that we might have redemption. The Son came into the world and then died, rose, and ascended in the act of saving us, leaving us His Holy Spirit to guide us home.
The Feast of the Holy Trinity sums up these mysteries because it reminds us that we are forever in the mind and heart of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The One God has surrounded us with such love that we are never alone no matter what our circumstances or our choices. Life therefore is never ordinary because we have the Triune God with us always. Every mystery of His love surrounds us daily and is present with every beat of our heart. The people who lived in Old Testament times seemed to have a really good grasp of the reality that everything they had was a gift. They seemed a bit more attuned to realizing that every breath they took depended on God. Being human, however, sometimes they needed to be reminded of this fact. In the first reading on Sunday, we hear how Moses explained the greatness of God’s gifts to the people. Moses said: “Ask from one end of the sky to the other: Did anything so great ever happen before? Was it ever heard of? Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live? Or did any god venture to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation…?” (Deuteronomy 4:32-34) If Moses had lived another 1800 years he might have asked it this way: “Has anything like the Son of God coming in our midst happened before? Has anyone ever experienced love so great as to witness His death for us on a cross and His rising from the grave? Did a people ever receive a love so great that not only did Jesus lay down His life for us, but also left us His Body and Blood in the Eucharist and His Holy Spirit to guide and protect us forever?”
The questions Moses asked, and those which he might have asked had he lived in light of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, reveal to us at even the slightest glance, that God intends for us to see and live life differently. Our lives, though not always easy, are filled with the loving presence of the Holy Trinity because of the great gift of God’s love. The Father, like any loving parent, does not want us to suffer, and yet it was suffering that He chose for His Son Jesus to lead us to salvation. Suffering is a mystery, and we are often invited into that mystery even though we would rather not enter into it at all. But to those who are invited to walk with Jesus in suffering, we need to remember that this means we are very close to His heart. Those who suffer know something of what Jesus experienced, even if the form of our suffering is very different than His. God does not send us suffering, but He does allow us to walk on that path quite often. It is the path of Jesus, and therefore we are not alone. In our suffering we are closest to Jesus and He is closest to us, even if it does not feel that way at all.
Every loving act done to alleviate the suffering of others and every loving act which brings joy transforms the world for those who receive as well as for those who give. If we truly follow the teachings of Jesus in the gospels then we will be led by the Holy Spirit to bring healing into our broken world. There is a great need for mercy and compassion, but if we look at the world with the eyes of love we can still see much beauty. It is so easy to get caught up in the brokenness around us that we can forget to see beauty. Yes, there is much work to be done, but there is also much for which we can be grateful. We will realize that life is indeed infused with the extraordinary if we ask to see with the eyes of Jesus and to love with His heart. We will see that no person is ordinary, nor is the time in which we live ever truly ordinary. Every moment is a precious gift and we do not want to squander even a second of it. If we see life in this way, we will be filled with gratitude, even in the times that are difficult, because we will know we are never alone. Everything is permeated with the presence of God.
The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, expressed this reality beautifully when he wrote that everything is filled with the grandeur of God.* In his poem he suggests that there is ‘a freshness’ within all that there is. This is the work of God, indeed. There is nothing which has been untouched since all was created by the hands of the Father. The Son gave us redemption, teaching us how to forgive 70 x 7 times, embodying mercy and compassion by consorting with the worst and the least of sinners, but all were sinners just the same. He died, rose, and opened the gates of Heaven for each and every one of us. In love the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit to continue the work of building the Kingdom. Absolutely nothing could ever be ordinary again after these great acts of love by God for us. Where God and His great love are, everything is transformed into a new creation. There is nothing ordinary about the way God loves and therefore there is nothing ordinary for the one who believes.
May we allow the graces and the very wonder of every great gift of love given by the Father to work in us! May we welcome His Son, Jesus, who gave the great gift of His Body and Blood to us! May we be enlivened by the power of the Holy Spirit, that our hearts may be filled and our eyes opened, transforming us and sanctifying us! May we see the world and the people in it differently through the gift of the Holy Trinity, so that we see that nothing is ever ordinary, least of all the time in which we live out the gift of life! And may we see with the eyes of Jesus and love with His heart! Let us continue to meet in the Love which binds the Trinity, Father, Son, and Spirit, One God in Three Persons! Peace!
©Michele L. Catanese
*The poem to which I referred is called God's Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins. The entire text can be found here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/173660
The three photos are mine. The first was taken at a church in Sicily. The second is of the Gulf of Mexico taken in Orange Beach, Alabama. The third was taken in Ireland and is the Dingle Peninsula.
The icon is Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins The Poet's Poet, by Fr. William Hart McNichols. It can be found at http://www.fatherbill.org/all-categories/product/90-fr-gerard-manley-hopkins-the-poet-s-poet.
Heart Speaks to Heart