The Courage to Get Up and Go
Today we have the celebration of the Feast of the Visitation on the Church calendar combined with the American celebration of Memorial Day. I think we often overlook how difficult a journey it was for Mary to travel from Nazareth all the way to Jerusalem and on the the “hill country” town of Ein Karem, the home of Elizabeth. We see Mary respond so easily. She goes “with haste” even. She is a woman of virtue who sees a need and just goes. On this Memorial Day, the story of the visitation reminds me of this same kind of spirit in those who have given their lives in service of our country. When there was an urgent need, people in trouble, the world threatened, how many American soldiers volunteered and went “with haste” to do their duty, many giving their lives in this service. We are grateful today for this spirit of sacrifice that has bought us the gift of freedom. May each of us have this spirit as we look out for our brothers and sisters in need and go “with haste” to help them.
A Communion of Love
The Trinity is a complicated thing. Today’s homily tells how even the great St. Augustine was reminded that he would never be able to fully understand this mystery. How can God be 3 persons in 1 God? The things we can say about each person of the Trinity we learn from sacred scripture. Perhaps the most obvious thing about the Trinity…and the easiest to understand…is often the most overlooked. God is not an isolated individual, but is rather a communion of persons. You could say that our God is a family of persons.
To say that “God is love” is often hard to grasp. To love, you need someone to love. You can’t love in isolation. It is not surprising then that God would not be alone, but would be a communion. The Trinity is a communion of love. Perhaps the easiest way to understand the meaning of this is to look at our families. They are supposed to be communions of love. Let us look to the Trinity today as our example. Let us be willing to lay down our life in love for others. We just might find the Trinity a little more understandable.
Being a Good Priest
We are all familiar with the ordained priesthood, but did you know that everyone who is baptized is a priest? The job of a priest is to offer sacrifice and we see the ordained priest offering the sacrifice of Jesus at the altar. However, all of the baptizied should come to Mass with something to offer. We “offer up” all the struggles and difficutlies of our day in union with the sacrifice of Christ. So be a good priest and come to Mass with an intention next time and offer it up to God.
Come Follow Me
The story of the “rich young man” in today’s Gospel is a challenge to all of us. This young man received the great call of Jesus to come and follow Jesus but was unable to answer the call. He had been living a good life and following the commandments, but he is ultimately not able to follow Jesus. His material possessions get in the way and he goes away sad.
What gets in the way of you saying yes to Jesus? Let’s not be afraid to leave anything behind in order to follow Jesus more closely. If we do so, not only will we avoid going away sad through this life, but we will have the great joy of a life in Christ.
Preparing for a Birthday
Today’s feast of Pentecost is often called the “birthday” of the Church. It was on this day that the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and the Apostles gathered in the upper room and the Church was then made very visible as they spilled out into the streets proclaiming the good news. Although we can rightfully see this as a sort of “birthday,” it would be incorrect to think that the Church began on this day.
When a baby is born, we celebrate that we can see the baby now visibly in the world, but no one would claim that somehow the baby only came into existence at the moment of its birth. For the previous nine months the baby was being formed in his or her mother’s womb. In a similar way the Church was being formed for 9 days following the Ascension in quiet and expectant prayer in the upper room. Although Jesus had given the Church it’s mission at his ascension, he did not send them off on their own at that point. Rather he told them to wait in Jerusalem for coming of the Spirit. Only when they had received the Spirit were they ready to go out.
There is an important message here for all of us. We can’t be the Church by each of us going off and doing our own thing. The first reading tells us plainly that “they were all together” when the day of Pentecost came. We need to gather together in prayer to receive the Holy Spirit. We gather today in the “upper room” of our church, around the altar of the Eucharist, with the Apostles and Mary and we pray. Come Holy Spirit. It is the birthday of the Church once again.
Peace Amidst the Troubles of the World
Perhaps our natural response to opposition and setbacks is to assume that we have done something wrong. In today’s gospel, Jesus says quite the opposite. Jesus tells us to expect trouble from the world when we follow after him. Indeed, we can even see trouble and opposition as a sign that we are fact doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing. Jesus promises us peace amidst the troubles of the world. He promises us the Holy Spirit to be our comforter and encourager. Let us strive to know the Holy Spirit better and trust in Jesus promise, “Have courage. I have overcome the world.”