Fr. Rick’s Homily: Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

May 26, 2024

Dt 4:32-34, 39-40; Ps 33:4-6, 9, 18-20, 22; Rom 8:14-17; Mt 28:16-20

A few years ago, the U.S. Navy had a great recruiting commercial which ended with a shot of a giant aircraft carrier patrolling the seas with the caption below: “They have to get by us first.”

The bishops always remind us to celebrate the Sunday Mass and not the National Holiday, but it’s hard to not blend the two this weekend.

Since WWII the United States has determined the best way to keep America (and almost everybody else) safe is to keep our armed forces deployed throughout the world.  I’m sure many currently sitting in this room have been part of that massive deployment at one time in your life.  We have considered ourselves the standard for restrained power and civil responsibility.  Who knows?  We might still be the good guys (on our good days) compared to all the other options around the world.  But it would be a stretch to claim that we are primarily acting out of Jesus’ command to go forth and teach all nations.   To observe all that He has taught us.  Many of the roughly 70% of Americans who identify as Christians when polled might not even remember all or some of what Jesus commanded us.  Maybe.

On Memorial Day we honor those who serve our country and especially those who have given their lives and limbs and their emotional stability to protect us.  To truly honor them we have to make sure they only get deployed in harms way when military action is actually in the best interest of all Americans.  We need to surgically define what actually constitutes American interests.  We have to be very keen about how our interests, especially our economic and ideological interests, are defined.  We need to know how these interests unnecessarily antagonize other countries and cultures.

Trinity Sunday gives us the action plan to actually do this.  The more effective we prepare disciples to go forth to all nations and teach (mostly by example of our own lifestyles) all that Jesus commanded us, the less need we will have to launch our massive armies and navies to the corners of the world.  Well-modeled Christian lives in the United States will determine much about how our interestsare portrayed around the world.  The more our national economy relies on the sale of weaponry, redundant consumer goods (that are arguably not need by anybody) and pop culture, the more precarious will be efforts to keep us all safe.

This is where the readings today really challenge us to reexamine our beliefs and acceptance of our mission as a Church.  In the gospel of Matthew today Jesus claims that all the power and authority of Heaven and earth have been given to Him.  He promised to be with us to the end of the age.  At Pentecost we were sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit so that we could actually live and act with things like God’s wisdom, God’s knowledge, God’s understanding, God’s counsel, God’s strength.  He has conferred all the power and authority of heaven and earth onto the Church.  He has commissioned us with the directive ‘as the Father sent me, so I send you.’

These directives really test our faith as Catholics and as Americans.  How can we claim to sincerely honor those who serve our country unless we are willing to accept all the power and authority of heaven and earth?  If we don’t use God’s power and authority to help guide our country?  If we don’t actually become the Church capable of such a lofty mission?

It’s much easier to just stuff our sacramental certificates into a drawer until someone needs them for another sacrament and to just grill up some burgers and hot dogs.  And don’t forget to put up a REALLY BIG flag.  We might even pop open a few ‘long necks’ or tall boys.  I grew up in the Midwest.  Do they still have Grain Belt and Hamm’s and Schlitz and Old Style? PBR? Falstaff?  Buckhorn?  I digress.

More specifically for today’s solemnity, we are reminded that we are created in the image and likeness of a God that is a Trinity.  The three persons of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) are not just IN a relationship, but they ARE a relationship.  Therefore, we ARE a relationship.  We are all parts of the same body.  We are all branches of the same vine.  We can do nothing without God.  No matter how confused our country or our Church may get down here on planet earth, Jesus is still the uncorrupted head in Heaven.  He is always with us in the form of the Holy Spirit… to the end of the age.

Our Catholic communities are where we should especially excel at being the Trinitarian relationship that God calls us to be.  Only as Trinitarian communities where people know each other well, serve each other well and learn the commandments, can we perform the mission given to us.  Remember, He sent us forth to teach everything that He has commanded us.  More specifically we are to teach others to OBSERVE all that He commanded us.  If demonstration is the most effective way of teaching, then we would need to learn and OBSERVE all that God commanded us.  (Think about how much time and money when into planning your Memorial Day activities.  How does that compare with the time and treasure you invested in learning all that God has commanded us).

Again, this Sunday seems to be a particularly good time to reexamine our true beliefs. Did Jesus really establish the Catholic Church?  Did He really send us the Holy Spirit that we celebrated last weekend?  Did He really institute the Holy Eucharist which we celebrate in a special way next weekend?  Is He really with us until the end of time?  Did He really receive and confer on the Church all the power and authority of Heaven and earth?

These are all very big questions, but our sincerity of heart in answering them makes all the difference.  We need to decide what the world needs most.  More armed combatants or more Disciples of Jesus Christ?  Who do we send to all nations? Did you know that none of the warring parties in the Middle East believes that Jesus is God?  What could possibly be the future of that area?

If our Catholic communities are where we most can image the Trinitarian God, how can we get more involved?

Take advantages of learning opportunities in the parish, at least one per year if offered?

Volunteer for some service for instance hosting the weekly social hour after Mass.  If you don’t have one, start one.

Attend a group rosary or attend Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. 

If you are lucky enough to have daily Mass at your parish, try to attend Mass once or twice during the week.   Could we maybe use a little extra grace?

If I really wanted to get carried away, I might even suggest that you go to confession regularly, say quarterly.

Join the Knights of Columbus…..

Check your bulletins.  Take advantage of opportunities to connect more personally and more deeply with fellow Catholics.  This is how we actually become ONE.  This is the only way we can continue to marshal up and maintain the spiritual intensity we need to make the world look more like heaven than hell.  This is how we honor our troops and our grandchildren and everybody else’s grandchildren.

St. John Paul II was fond of reminding us that we can only be fulfilled when we make a total self-gift of our lives.  Be all you can be.  Aim high.  Be one of the few, the proud.  Be a missionary.  Be a nun or a priest.  Join the military.  Protect us and future generations before the forces of evil get too close.