St John's Q&A

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Feast of the Most Holy Trinity - homily

I was on a retreat in high school that was pretty intense. At one point during the retreat, we went into our small group to talk about some major stuff – life, family, faith, friends, etc. One of the guys in our group who was a very good friend of mine began to talk about his life. He kept referring to “Bill” in his talk – “Bill” has always been good to me; “Bill” and I get along great; I was asking “Bill” the other day…Finally, the group leader interrupted him by saying, “I’m sorry, but who is Bill?” My buddy who is very funny said, “God. I call God, ‘Bill’”. Needless to say, it helped lighten up the intense mood!

Ever since we have existed, we have wanted to know who God is and what to call Him. For the first thousand years or so, no one knew God’s name. It was until God revealed His name to Moses and the Israelites: “I am who am”, or “Yahweh” in Hebrew. The Jewish people were in such awe of the name of Yahweh that they never said the word. It was only the Jewish priest who would say the name of God once a year. He would go into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement – Yom Kippur – and say the name of Yahweh. When the people heard this, they bowed down with great reverence and respect at hearing the name of God.

Jesus reveals more fully who God is and what His name is – God is Father, Son, and Spirit. We celebrate the Most Holy Trinity today. God has revealed himself fully to us in Christ and asks us to believe in his name. We see the early Christians had tremendous respect for the name of Jesus, continuing the Jewish tradition of honoring the name of God. It took on an even more intense form, as we know from the Acts of the Apostles. In Acts chapter 5, the Apostles are “rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name (of Jesus)” (v. 41).

Do we approach God’s name with great reverence and respect? Are we like the Jews and only use His name in regards to worship? Are we like the early Christians who believed so firmly in the name of Jesus as today’s Gospel calls us? Or, do we follow the ways of the world and throw God’s name around like it’s just any other word? One look at today’s TV shows or movies reveals how careless our society is in using the name of God. I find myself constantly whispering a “sorry, Lord” when viewing certain programs. There is even a phrase on internet and cell phone media: “OMG”. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always stand for “Oh my Gosh”. Many of us have unfortunately fallen into the secular habit of taking God’s name in vain even when it involves minor frustration or even excitement.

May the Eucharist help us to keep God’s name holy. May the grace of this sacrament help us to return to our Jewish roots in honoring the name of God. When we come to the Eucharist, it’s like we are in the new Holy of Holies; we not only hear God’s name, we see Him under the signs of bread and wine. And, when we see Him, we are encouraged to whisper His name, “My Lord and my God”. This is the phrase that St. Thomas said when he saw the risen Christ. The Church encourages us to whisper “My Lord and my God” when the priest elevates the consecrated host and wine.

Finally, may the Eucharist help us to live Trinitarian lives. May our lives be offerings to the Father, in the Son, and through the Holy Spirit. May we always live our lives in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.


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