Most Holy Trinity – June 4, 2023

Most Holy Trinity – June 4, 2023

TrinityA23.   Exodus 34:4b-6, 8-9.  As the Lord passed before Moses, “Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship.”  Along with Moses we recognize the Lord as the Almighty, “merciful and gracious God.”  We submit ourselves to his glorious reign over us.

John 3:16-18.  “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”  God expresses his might not to obliterate and crush but to raise up and an enrich.  Our God, who can do whatever he wills, wills only the best for all of his creatures.  However, those who reject his love render themselves worthless and condemned.

2 Corinthians 13:11-13.    As the Trinity is three persons bound together to be one God by love, so should we be bound together by our God-infused love for one another.  Let us live in the love that is God who gave his only Son that we may be love as God is love.

Most Holy Trinity – 2020

TrinA20.   Exodus 34:4b-6, 8-9.   Moses goes up to the top of the mountain and the Lord comes down to the top of the mountain.  Through Moses man reaches up to God to come into contact with the God who reaches down to man.  In reaching down to us the Lord manifests himself as God who not only is infinitely good in every way but especially infinitely loving and caring.  He so loves his people that, even though they had just worshipped the golden calf, his mercy is infinitely greater than their sin.  He takes them back as his own.

John 3:16-18.   “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”  The Son, while still retaining his divinity, became fully human so that he could offer himself up as a sacrifice on the cross to wash away our sins with his blood.  Only the infinite God could himself satisfy the infinite God to redeem us from our offenses.  However, in order to receive our redemption we must, as Moses went up the mountain, go up to God by putting our whole being into his hands by believing in his Son as our only source of eternal life.

2 Corinthians 13:11-13.   “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”  The Christian Corinthians had been a community of many factions who did not get along.  Paul is calling upon them to live in the unity of the triune God, one God yet three persons, the unity in which infinite love is the binding force.  Our home one day in heaven is to live in God whose love is so immeasurable that there is plenty room for billions of saints.

Most Holy Trinity – 2017

TrinA.  Exodus 34:4b-6, 8-9.  Our God is, at one and the same time, all-powerful and all-loving and kind.  With Moses we too bow down to the ground and worship him.  As he took the Hebrew people as his own and went along in their company, so he does with us.  How good it is to have the God who is love as our God!

John 3:16-18.  “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”  “In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him.  In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he has loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10) We are God’s creatures, created by him to be loved by him and by receiving his love, to becoming loving as he is loving.  However at times, all too often, we become self-centered, loving ourselves as though what has been given to us is ours by our very nature and is not God-given, in other words, I choose to believe it is I who makes me good and not God.  We can so easily say to ourselves ‘look at me, at what I have done on my own, independent of any source outside of me.’  I can so readily deny that I am God-dependent but believe self-dependent and so I can think that love is not to be shared but to be horded.  The truth is, on the other hand, that God loves me so that I might bring his love to others.  “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.” (1 John 4:11)  To believe in God means to have a pervading consciousness of being God-dependent.  Not to believe in God means to think that I, of and in myself apart from God, have everything I need.  In others words the crucifixion was to no effect for me because I see myself as totally self-sufficient.  I have condemned myself for my lack of belief in God as the source of my goodness and all goodness.  “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:18)

2 Corinthians 13:11-13.  Paul blesses the Corinthians calling upon them to live in the presence of the Trinity: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”  He tells them to make their community like a home that God is proud to live in and feel at home in.  “Mend your ways, encourage one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.”




Pentecost – May 28, 2023

PentA23.   Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11.   “Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.”  The Holy Spirit both enabled them to communicate miraculously and also impelled and ignited them to move the Jewish pilgrims to accept Jesus as the Messiah.  They were on fire with the missionary zeal of the Lord.

John 20:19-23.  Jesus appeared to his disciples, commissioning them to go out and seek others to be believers in him. Then he breathed the Holy Spirit into them to be the life-giving force in them to enable others to live in the holiness of God by forgiving them their sins.

1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13.  “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.”  Only the Spirit can breathe into us God’s life so that we can do God’s work.  The Holy Spirit is God living within us from our Baptism and Confirmation who enables us to live the spiritual life in our material bodies.  Without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit we cannot live that spiritual life that is infinitely beyond the physical, material life that all the other animals of this world live.

Psalm 104.     “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.”  Holy Spirit, fill us with God’s spiritual life.  Jesus said in John 3:4-7:   “None can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.  What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit.  Do not be amazed that I told you, ‘You must be born from above.’” That birth is the life that the Spirit who dwells within us gives us.

Pentecost – 2020

PentA20.    Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11.  At “the time for Pentecost” “suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind.” “There appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” “Now there were devout Jews from every nation,” who spoke many different languages.  “They were astounded, and in amazement they asked,” “We hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.”  One God yet three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  How often have we heard of the Holy Spirit who is the One given to us for our daily sanctification by the Trinity?    Only saints are allowed in heaven; the Holy Spirit enables us to become saints, if we only cooperate with him daily.  Nothing is impossible for God.  The Holy Spirit accomplishes whatever he wishes since He is truly God but God will never force holiness upon us.    We ourselves must choose to die daily to our own self-centered tendencies so as to belong to the beneficent Will and Love of God.  The Spirit enabled the Apostles to speak miraculously.  If we belong to the Spirit, he will miraculously enable us to be holy, despite the devil, our own natural desires and the ways of the world around us.

John 20:19-23.   The first day of week after the crucifixion was Easter Sunday, the same day that John the Evangelist, the author of this Sunday’ gospel, marks as Pentecost, thus differing from the other three gospels writers.  Perhaps it is only that his recall of events was different, leaving our humanness as the reason for the discrepancy.  Nevertheless, John speaks of the locked doors and the fear of the apostles in contrast to the divine capacity of Jesus to pass through locked doors and to bring peace to the fear-filled disciples.  He shows the disciples his hands and his side that had been pierced as proof that he is the risen Jesus and not a ghost or an impostor.  Then Jesus commissions them to go as he had gone out to convert the people.  Next he immediately empowers the disciples by giving them the Holy Spirit so to enable them to accomplish the commission he has just given them.  He next gives them the power to open the gates of heaven through the forgiveness of sins or to keep the gates shut to those whose sins are retained.  Now the gates are opened by a life lived in Christ or retained locked by a life that shuts out Christ.  The power that Jesus had exercised to open locked doors or to keep them shut is given to the disciples and their successors.  The Holy Spirit works through the Church, the followers of Christ, to enable us through the centuries to become holy and so to enter into heaven.

1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13.  “Brothers and sisters: No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” (Please also read Matthew 16:15-16)  In other words, God enables us to declare the truth.  I personally believe that God and only God is the source of ALL goodness.  Even when a person is agnostic or hates God, if they do any good that is truly good, God is the root source of that goodness that they have just done without them knowing that it was God who enabled them to do good. There can be no goodness in this universe unless that good work has God as the one who empowered it to be.  “There are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.  To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.”  When we live in union with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit often uses us as his visible instrument in this world to do his work.  If what we do is good, the radical or root source of that goodness is the Spirit who is working through us.  “We were all given to drink of one Spirit.”   The Spirit pours himself into us, the vessels who choose to be open to him, so that the life and gifts we have are from him to build the Church.  In as much as we have chosen to be the instruments of the Spirit without whom we could do nothing good, we deserve a small portion of the credit.  However, by far the credit belongs to the Spirit.

Pentecost – 2017

PentA.   In Judaism on Passover, the people of Israel were freed from their enslavement to Pharaoh; on Shavuot, they were given the Torah and became a nation committed to serving God.  The word Shavuot means weeks, and the festival of Shavuot marks the completion of the seven-week counting period between Passover and Shavuot. (Wikipedia under Shavuot)  For Christians, Passover becomes Easter when we pass from slavery to our sinfulness to freedom because we have been redeemed by Christ death on the Cross.  For Christians Shavuot, which is also the feast of harvest of barley & wheat, is Pentecost or the giving of the Holy Spirit who is our living, i.e. not written, guide and enabling force in the spiritual life, and the harvesting of Jesus’ work with his Apostles.

Genesis 11:1-9 & Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11.  I wish to look at the first readings for the Vigil and the Feast of Pentecost together because it seems to me that they meant to be contrasting and in that sense complementary as left to right arms.  In the Genesis reading the people already speak the same language but God confuses their language because their unity of language was being used to try to accomplish things without God; whereas in the Acts reading, they are being united in the one Holy Spirit by understanding each in one’s own language “of the mighty acts of God.”  God brings about unity with God as the center but without God there is only division and chaos.  If we try to reach to the sky on our own, no good will come of it; but being united with God who comes down from the sky to earth, all is well.

In Genesis 1:1-2 “a mighty wind swept over the waters” as a sign that God creative powers were about to work.  In the Acts reading with the coming of the Spirit he appears “like a strong driving wind.”  The Spirit comes as “tongues of fire” that gave the Apostles an intensity of desire to speak “of the mighty acts of God.”

John7:37-39 & John 20:19-23.  The reading of the Vigil states that there had been “no Spirit yet;” nevertheless, Luke’s Gospel speaks of the Spirit working long before Pentecost (Lk. 1:35, 41; 2: 25-26; 3: 22; 4:1, 14).  I believe John’s gospel means to say that the Holy Spirit of Pentecost, that was to give the spiritual gifts necessary to initiate the Church after Jesus had been glorified in the Ascension, was to arrive at the proper time later.  Jesus “exclaimed, ‘Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink.  As the Scripture says: Rivers of living water will flow from within him who believes in me.’  He said this in reference to the Spirit that those who came to believe in him were to receive.”  The ‘rivers of living water’ that are to flow from the Christian believers perhaps are the graced workings of the Holy Spirit who dwell within them.  In John’s Gospel the Holy Spirit is given on Easter Sunday (first of the week).  Jesus said, “’Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’  And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”  With Jesus present to them physically as he walked the surface of the earth, God’s grace or life flow into them externally.  When Jesus breathed on them the Holy Spirit, the breathe of God’s spiritual life was within them.  They no longer needed the external, physical presence of Jesus as a source of God’s grace or spiritual life.

Jesus said, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”  He was also ordaining them as priests (Grk. presbyteroi) so that the Church then had the power to forgive sins so to renew spiritual life within the faithful.  Spiritual life was what Jesus had come to bring, the gift that gives eternally.  Miracles, that give or renew physical life, are only  a sign that Jesus and the Church, Body of Christ, (that exists physically after Jesus had left the world physically when he ascended into heaven)  have the power to give the spiritual life that is for all eternity.  With the forgiveness of sins, the spiritual life of each one of the members of the Church is reborn and renewed and so the Church has the Spirit’s life as its driving force.

On Easter Sunday, Jesus said, “Peace be with you” to give a type of resurrection to the Apostles who had locked themselves “for fear of the Jews” in the upper room which had become a sort of tomb for them.

Romans 8:22-27.  The lifelong labor or struggle for holiness leads us to a groaning because we cannot just go out and do it and it’s done.  Rather it is a never-ending- till- death struggle because the opposition does not give up until we have breathed our last breathe and are in the firm grip of the Lord, adopted into heaven as his son and daughters.  The Holy Spirit groans along with us in our struggle, interceding for us “with inexpressible groanings.”  It is like the groaning of those who are in a tug-of-war, or pushing on something or pulling on something we cannot move.  We do not want to give up but, no matter how hard we try, we cannot get the job done.  The forces that oppose the Lord never give up because they know, that as long as we have free will, they still have the chance to turn the tide.  Nevertheless, we will have the victory as long as we stay united to the Spirit who never ceases to intercede “for the holy ones according to God’s will.”

“As we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies” Paul writes.  I have always heard of redemption of our souls but as a whole person, our bodies need to be redeemed too.  Paul wrote,  “He will change our lowly bodies to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself.” (Philippians 3:21)  Paul continues, “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.”  Paul is encouraging Jesus’ followers to endure through difficulties.  “For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weigh of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4: 17-18)


1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13.  Paul wrote, “None can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’, except by the Holy Spirit.  Jesus said to St. Peter who had professed to Jesus, “You are the Messiah, the son of the living God,”  “For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.” (Matthew 16:16-17)  We can nothing good, unless we are graced by God to do it, even if we deny the existence of God or do not even know or care that there is a God.

The Church is a community of believers who receive many, differing gifts so that, as a whole its tasks work a unified result.  There are many parts of the whole body but all the parts are to work together for the benefit of the whole entity.  There is one Spirit to work together through all the baptized to achieve God’s will.  “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.”  God’s gifts, God’s will differs for each individual, but we work as a cohesive whole and so we, though many, are one.  “We were all given to drink of the one Spirit;” but, if we do not, we will die on the vine and be fruitless.

Ascension – May 21, 2023

AscenA23.  Acts of the Apostles 1:1-11.    The Acts of the Apostles is Luke’s second volume of Christian history.  After Jesus’ resurrection, he spent forty days with his apostles and then ascended up to heaven, promising them to send the Holy Spirit soon.  The Holy Spirit would empower them to be witnesses of the ongoing saving action of Jesus in the entire world.  Angels came to move the apostles on to the work to which Jesus had sent them.

Matthew 28:16-20.   Jesus commissions his Apostles and with them all his followers/disciples to, in turn, make others into becoming obedient followers of Christ.  The action of enabling others to become disciples of Christ is baptism, which is a spiritual birth that enables us to become children of God the Father, reborn by water and the Spirit. (John 3:1-16)  In being obedient followers of Christ, Jesus assures us that he, though invisibly so, is with us until one day he returns, as the angels asserted, as he was once here.  It is not enough to be baptized and go our own individual way.  Jesus calls upon us as we go through life on our way to heaven to bring others along with us to heaven.  As Jesus’ divine life worked in his human flesh, so he empowers us with his presence within us to enable sinners to become saints.

Ephesians 1:17-23.  “May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him.”  Through daily spiritually living with God the Father whose love for us enables us to see him with “the eyes of our hearts,” we experience “the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe” in him.  We live by the grace of his divinity that he shares with us as members of his “church, which is his body,” the fullness of Jesus who fills us life.  While still on earth with an earthly body, Jesus shared with us something of himself “who fills all things in every way.”  “We were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9b) who enables us to live spiritually with him, even while our lives here depend on our earthly bodies.

Ascension – 2020

AscenA20.    Acts of the Apostles 1:1-11.   Luke first writes his gospel and secondly the Acts of the Apostles.  He addresses both to Theophilus, which translated from the Greek means one who loves God.  In other words, he is speaking to people who are already believers but want to increase their belief.   Luke relates that Jesus was taken up into heaven, “after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit (but before Pentecost) to the apostles whom he had chosen.”  They only receive the Holy Spirit himself later at Pentecost.  Jesus says to his Apostles, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses.” “When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.”  “Suddenly two men dressed in white garments” “said, ‘Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?  This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.’”  In other words, Jesus wants the Apostles now to get on the next phase of their work here on earth and not just stare into the sky.  Jesus in effect is saying await the Spirit.  Once empowered by him go and convert the world.

Matthew 28:16-20.  Jesus says in Matthew 28:19a: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations; and in Matthew 28:20b: “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”  The end of the age means the end of the universe or Jesus’ Second Coming when Jesus judges all as Lord over all.  Meanwhile though not physically present, he is with us spiritually to continue his ministry to lead all to heaven through the power of the Spirit.

Ephesians 1:17-23.   Paul writes: “Brothers and sisters: May the God of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in the knowledge of him.” In Matthew 16:15b -16 Peter said: “You are the Messiah, the son of the living God.” Jesus said in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.  For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.”  That was ‘the Spirit of wisdom and revelation,’ working in the name of the Father, working in a spiritually unseen but a divinely, real manner.  “And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.” Jesus is all that is all-6 good and heavenly given.  Though not here bodily he is here even more intensely spiritually to fulfill his mission to bring all to salvation.


Ascension – 2017

AscA17.  Acts of the Apostles 1:1-11.  Luke begins his history of the beginnings of the Church established by Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah or Christ by addressing his writings to Theophilus, which is Greek meaning ‘lover of God’.  Perhaps what he really means to say is ‘to all of you who love God’.   Luke sets up a timeline of forty days after the resurrection during which Jesus presented himself alive to prove that he truly had arisen and to prepare his followers for the coming of the Holy Spirit so that they could begin forming the Church based on the spiritual presence of the Holy Spirit and not the physical presence of Jesus.

“When they had gathered together, they asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’” That question seems to indicate that they still were thinking that Jesus came to overthrow the Romans and become king of the worldly kingdom of Israel.  Jesus sidesteps the question by responding that they are not to know the times that God the Father has established; “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses” everywhere.  Jesus then ascended up into heaven.  The Apostles were left on the ground astounded and probably quite at a loss at what they had just seen and what it all meant for them.  Angels appear saying, “This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”  They are predicting the Second Coming of Jesus when he comes to end the physical universe and call all his own to him and to heaven.

Matthew 28:16-20.  “When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.”  They adored him but they did not know where this was all going to go.  As their question in the Acts of the Apostles shows, they wanted to have a worldly based certainty in what they were putting their trust.   Faith in Christ is believing that in the end God will make it all work out without us knowing how.  The Holy Spirit would help them gain that depth of faith that they did not yet have.  Jesus said to them, “All power in heaven and earth has been given to me.”  He has been obedient to the Father’s Will to the utmost and so has gained the ultimate victory.  He goes to heaven so to give the victory to us to establish his kingdom on earth in the souls of all who are willing to believe in Him.  As he made disciples so he empowers us to do likewise making disciples, followers of Jesus who follow him to heaven through the Spirit he sends us.  Baptism in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit unites to the One God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  “Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” means that what God teaches we believe: nothing more; nothing less.  Though not now with us as when he walked physically with his apostles, he is with us spiritually.  “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”  ‘The end of the age’ is what the angels promised at end of the first reading, i.e. his Second Coming.

Ephesians 1:17-23.  Paul asks that we be blessed with a Spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him.  My understanding is that Paul is asking that we be blessed with the presence of the Holy Spirit who will enable us to come to know “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory” personally throughout our lives.  “May the eyes of your heart, i.e., the emotions by which we live daily be enlightened by God so that he himself is our hope to share in the riches of his eternal glory, his awesomeness beyond anything human beings are capable of imagining.  God put all things beneath Jesus’ “feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.” Jesus makes all things to be filled with God’s goodness.  When we are his, we have everything but without him, we have nothing.

6th Sunday of Easter – May 14, 2023

East6A23.  Acts of the Apostles 8:5-8, 14-17.    Philip reached out to convert the Samaritan Jews who had historically been treated as rejects (schismatic Jews) by the Jerusalem Jews.  His miraculous cures proved the authenticity of his call to accept Jesus as the Messiah; and so, many accepted conversion.  Peter and John completed the process of their conversion by laying hands on them so that they received the Holy Spirit.

John 14:15-21.  To accept Jesus as Messiah means to love him as he loves us, to embrace him as he embraces us.  However, the relationship is not as one equal to another, but as one who is finite and created to a God who is infinite and the Creator.The nature of this relationship demands that we be totally obedient and subservient to our God.  The way we ‘know’ the Spirit is a life in which we gradually come to live with him as the breathe and source of daily life for us.  Also Jesus, God the Son, becomes the source of life for us, since as he said, “because I live and you will live.” Christian life is not earthly, animal life but rather life in which we live in God and God in us.  “Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”  Life in Christ through the power of the Spirit is heavenly life on earth.

1 Peter 3:15-18.  “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.”  Have the loving Lord as the love of our lives.  He is the only one we must please.  We would like to pleaseothers only so to attract them to Jesus but that is not always possible.  That often means that certain people reject and even despise us.  Jesus was rejected by those blind to values greater than earthly ones.  To be heavenly bound may mean to find this world a difficult, even painful place to live.