First Mass Homily – Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

+ JMJ +

There is a story concerning St. Augustine that goes as follows.  One day he was walking on the beach contemplating the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Then he saw a young boy in front of him who had dug a hole in the sand and was going out to the sea again and again and bringing some water to pour into the hole. St. Augustine asked him, “What are you doing?” “I’m going to pour the entire ocean into this hole.” Said the young boy “That is impossible, the whole ocean will not fit in the hole you have made” said St. Augustine. The boy replied, “And you cannot fit the Trinity in your tiny little brain.” The story concludes by saying that the boy immediately vanished because St. Augustine had been conversing with an angel.

The Most Holy Trinity, three persons but one God is one of the central mysteries of our faith.  Just as the angel taught St. Augustine that he could never grasp the fullness of the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, we know that we too will never fully grasp its reality.  So then why do we attempt to even discuss that which we can never fully understand?  We do so because it is a mystery of love – a mystery which is central to faith we profess.

The great mystery of the Holy Trinity is that the love that the Father and the Son have for each other is of such great magnitude, that from this love another person is spirated, namely the Holy Spirit.  This love that exists between the Father and the Son extends to us as well for the Father loved us so much that in the fullness of time He sent His only begotten Son to become incarnate, live among us, to suffer and to die.  The love that exists between the Father and the Son is so great that not only is it life giving, but it is death conquering.  Everything that the Father has He gives to us in His Son Jesus Christ.  This is the great mystery – That God loves us so much that He would allow His Son to die so that we may live forever.  But the Love of the Father does not stop there – Jesus did not come to die but to rise!  It is by His Resurrection that death loses its power and is transformed from something meaningless to the ultimate act of love.  As St. Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians “O death, where is your power?  O death, where is your sting?”

But the love of the Father and the Son does not stop there.  After Jesus Christ ascended to the Father, he did not leave us orphans.  He sent us an advocate as he promised who descended upon us at Pentecost, literally the fiftieth day after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This day which we just celebrated last weekend is the celebration of the birth of the Catholic Church.  The Holy Spirit remains with us as a living presence in the Church and animates and sanctifies the work of the Church.

The reason we cannot fully understand the Trinity is because we cannot fully understand love – love requires faith.  Love requires trust.  No one can touch love or have written evidence of love.  Love is something we come to know through experience.  Just as man and woman come to know each other in love through faith and through experience of each other, we can only come to know the great mystery of love that is the Holy Trinity through experience and relationship with the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.  In order to come to greater love and understanding of God, we must put in time and effort.  God constantly reveals His love to us daily if we only avail ourselves to Him.

Yesterday, The Father again showed the depths of His love for us, His Church.  I and eleven other men lay down upon the Cathedral floor and were called forth by God and Holy Mother Church where hands were laid upon us and we received the Holy Spirit so that we might die to ourselves and in turn give ourselves completely as servants to Jesus Christ and His Bride, the Church.

Dearest friends, the fact that Christ calls unworthy men to Holy Orders is again an external sign of His great love for us.  Ordination is not simply a gift for the one being ordained but rather, more importantly, a gift that Christ gives to His Church to continue His mission of the salvation of souls.  Through the laying on of Hands and the Invocation of the Holy Spirit, the Father reveals to us His continued love for humanity and His promise that he would send the Holy Spirit as an advocate to be among us.

Yesterday I personally experienced the love of the Father as I was ordained, not for myself but for you – to serve you, the people of God. Today as I begin my ministry of service, I ask you to please pray for me.  Pray that I may become more like Christ who came to serve and not to be served.  Without your prayers I cannot be the deacon that you deserve and need me to be.  Yesterday when the bishop handed me the book of the Gospels he said “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you now are.  Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”  Pray that I may be His herald and that others may not see me but see Christ.

Blessed be the holy Trinity and undivided Unity: we will give glory to Him, because He has shown His mercy to us. Amen

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