Sunday, June 15, 2014

Worth the Same

   The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity   A 

Many years ago,
a few fellows were gathered in a London coffee shop
watching wealthy theater-goers
get into their luxury cars and head home for the night.
They got to talking about equality.
“All men are born free and equal,” said an American in the group.
“That’s only talk,” said an English workingman.
“Some are born millionaires, others in the poorhouse.”
“That’s right,” said the man behind the bar,
“and some are born with good brains and good health,
while others simply aren’t.”
“We’ll only be equal when we’re all dead,” 
said an ever-optimistic Russian.
The shop owner turned to an elderly man
carrying a bundle of newspapers and asked,
“What do you think?”
“I think we’re all equal in the sight of God,” he answered.
Which is when he pulled a handful of pennies from his pocket.
“See these here pennies,” he said.
“Some are shiny and some are dull,
some are new and some are worn thin—
but they’re all worth exactly the same.
And they’re all stamped with the image of the king.”

Today the Church celebrates
the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.
For some, their notion of the Blessed Trinity
is pretty basic and drawn from pictures on old holy cards:
a bearded old man, his handsome son seated to his right,
and a glowing white bird hovering between them.
On the other hand, speak to a theologian about the Holy Trinity,
and they’ll make your head spin with talk
of paternity and spiration, filiation and procession,
appropriation and perichoresis.
(And you thought adding “consubstantial” to the Creed was bad!)

From art to academics,
from the Church’s most stately and solemn liturgies
to the homey scene of a dad
leading his family in grace before a meal—
it’s only right that we put such emphasis
on the God who has revealed himself
as perfectly One and distinctly Three,
doing nearly everything “in the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
But for all the attention we properly owe to God,
what is just as remarkable—maybe even more so—
is all the attention God gives to us.
For 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.

We have value—untold, immeasurable worth—
because the King of heaven and earth
has imprinted his own image on each one of us.

Since 1334, the feast of the Most Holy Trinity
has been observed throughout the Roman Catholic Church
on the Sunday after Pentecost
(although, in many places, it was already being celebrated
for centuries before that.)
But while that’s the case here in the West,
much of Eastern Christianity
reserves this Sunday following Pentecost
for the feast of All Saints.
Putting these two observances side-by-side
brings something important to light:
while half of the Church rejoices
in the mystery of the all-holy God,
the other half rejoices in the mystery
that God calls us all to be holy
calls us all to be saints.

Holiness is about polishing the penny that is the human soul—
about uncovering its immense worth
Now, that’s not to say it’s about personal achievement—
what we can accomplish ourselves.
Being God-like, being holy, being a saint,
is beyond our ability and beyond our strength.
Holiness is a gift: it’s grace;
it’s a matter of divine mercy much more than human merit.
That the three Persons of the Holy Trinity
long for us all to be saints
is about allowing the great King’s image to shine through.

Do I know God well enough to be sure
that others can come to know him through me?
For I must know God to love him,
and I must know God to make him known.

As today we celebrate our faith
in the mystery of the Triune God,
resolve anew to give the Lord
the love and attention he deserves,
aware of all the tender love and attention
God is always lavishing on you.

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