Sunday, May 31, 2015


I'm not sure if I wasn't clear or they weren't paying attention, but one couple on the way out of Mass this morning asked, "So, have you ever met your birth parents?"

I've heard it said that "adoption is growing in your mother's heart instead of her tummy." That even more true when applied to our heavenly Father.

There'll be no homily for you next Sunday. I'm leaving June 2 (Tuesday) for Rome, where I'm helping to lead a discernment pilgrimage (with another priest, 2 seminarians, and 4 young men pondering priesthood) until June 11. Please say a prayer for us pilgrims!

   The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity   B 

I was adopted.
I was born on October 8, 1974,
and by October 28, the adoption was complete.
The arrangements had been made prior to my birth,
so eager was my adoptive father to add me to his family.
And it was an act great of love on behalf of my birth parents
to put me up for adoption in the first place,
knowing the kind of life this new family would provide.

By this point,
many of you who’ve known me—or my family—for awhile
must be scratching your heads.
How could we not have known this?

But what I’m talking about it the day of my baptism.

When I was teaching Formation for Ministry a few months ago,
one of my students shared a story—
I believe it was about her daughter and son-in-law.
They were unable to conceive,
so they decided to adopt a child from Africa.
She shared to what great lengths
these would-be parents were willing to go—
the paperwork, the travel, the many sacrifices—
in order to bring this little girl into their family:
to take this child out of a difficult, even dangerous situation
and instead surround her with their love.
As I listened, I immediately thought:
Isn’t that exactly what God does for us?
To what lengths he has gone to take us out of the country of sin
and bring us into his kingdom—
surrounding us with love as his own children!

This talk of adoption is no mere metaphor.
As St. Paul reminds the Romans,
on the day of our Baptism,
when the water was poured out upon us,
the Holy Spirit was also poured into our hearts,
and we “received a Spirit of adoption.”
When we were immersed in the font,
we were also immersed in the very life of the Most Holy Trinity.
God has only one begotten Son,
but he has countless adopted children
who become true brothers and sisters of Jesus.
And it is through this Holy Spirit—
the very same Spirit of love who binds together
the Father and the Son for all eternity—
that we can cry to God, “Abba! Father!”
We get to call God, “Dad!”

When we come to this Trinity Sunday,
many folks of think of the doctrine of the Trinity
as something every dry and difficult.
What difference could it make in my day-to-day life?
But the reality is that the God’s self-revelation
as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
is about as personal, powerful, and passionate as it gets.
The God who is love itself couldn’t keep that love to himself,
but came to save us and take us into that perfect love forever.
That makes all the difference in the world!

There are a couple of aspects of our Catholic life
that can help to drive this point home.

What do Catholics go looking for
as soon as they cross the threshold of a church?
The holy water!  To bless themselves,
marking themselves with the sign of the cross
and in the name of the Holy Trinity.
We do that to recall the day of our adoption—
the day (in most cases) when our parents
first brought us through those church doors
that we might become members of God’s family.
But we should also be sure to look for the holy water
on our way out of church, because at our baptism
we were not only adopted, but also given a mission.
We hear Jesus this Sunday speaking to the Apostles
before he ascends into heaven; he tells them:
"Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that i have commanded you."
When we leave church, we need to spread this message around.
Imagine what a different world we’d live in
if more people believed that God
wanted a personal relationship with them:
that they were loved and always would be!
I was at a conference yesterday,
and something the speaker said made the whole room gasp
at the truth of his words:
You must really hate somebody
if you’ve discovered the secret to real happiness in this life and forever
and you won’t share it with them.
The world desperately needs us
to fulfill the mission entrusted to us by Jesus!

The second thing has become clear in the last few years
since we began using the new translation of the Mass.
Not long before we receive Holy Communion,
the priest introduces the Lord’s Prayer by saying,
“At the Savior’s command and formed by divine teaching,
we dare to say…”
What’s so audacious about the Lord’s Prayer?
They’re familiar words that everybody knows!
But consider how it begins.
We don’t address the Father—a distant and impersonal God.
We don’t address the Father of Jesus
concerned only with the relationship between them.
No, Jesus instructs us to pray to our Father.
Imagine, that when we call upon
the almighty Creator of the entire universe,
we dare to call him, “Abba!  Father!  Dad!”
That’s daring!
As Moses said to the people,
Has anything so great every happened before?
Was it ever heard of?
Has any other god chosen a people for his own,
and shown his care for them with such signs and wonders
as the Lord our God has done before our very eyes?
Yes, it’s daring for us to call God, “Father”…
…but it’s even more daring on his part
that God would adopt us sinners as his own.

I was adopted on October 28, 1974.
I’ve made it a point in recent years
to learn and remember the date of my baptism.
It’s the most important day of my entire life.
And so it is for you, too.
Recall this wonderful day not just once a year,
but whenever you bless yourself with holy water
or recite the Lord’s Prayer,
for you have received a Spirit of adoption,
making you a coheir with Jesus Christ
and though whom you can in truth
call God, “Abba!  Father!”

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