Monday, June 4, 2012
Life is Beautiful-Trinity Sunday Homily
An elderly woman is walking into church and she is greeted by a friendly usher. "May i assist you?" he asks. "By all means" she responds. "Where would you like to sit?" he asks. "The front row" she responds. "Oh, you don't want to sit in the first row" he states, "the pastor is boring." "Do you know who I am," the woman asks indignantly. "No" the usher replies. "I am the pastor's mother." "Do you know who I am?" the usher asks. "No" she replies. "Good." The user responds. Meister Eckhart says that you and I were created out of the laughter of the Trinity. Proverbs 8:30-31 says "Then was I beside him as his craftsman, and I was his delight day by day, playing before him all the while, playing on the surface of the earth; and I found delight in the sons of men." Did You and I hear that....the earth is God's playground...St Josemaria Escriva once counselled people who would come to him complaining that they feel no devotion. His answer? God is playing with you. Imagine that the God of the universe-infinite love-wants to play with us! The prophet Zephaniah says "Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, He will sing joyfully because of you as one sings at festivals." (zeph 3:17-18). Let me share with you an example of how this plays out. Did you ever see the movie "Life is Beautiful?" The movie came out in 1997 and won some Academy Awards. The first part of the movie is lighthearted-it involves the courtship of a Jewish man, Guido, who marries and aristocratic woman, Dora. At first her family is opposed to the mixed marriage but eventually they relent. Eventually a son, Giuse, is born. When Giuse turns 4 and 1/2 the movie becomes more serious. It is world war II and the Nazi's are invading Italy. Guido and his son are taken to a concentration camp. Dora, in solidarity with her husband and son, goes with them. While in the camp the father does everything possible to keep his son's spirits up. He steals food. He uses humor. He convinces his son that he is actually in a game. The objective of the game is to win a tank. Whoever gets 1,000 points first wins. The boy wants to know why the officers are so mean. His father tells him it is because they are in the game and they want to win the tank as well. The other children are also competing. Because the father is so convincing and the boy's heart is so pure, he believes every word of his father. If the boy complains and expresses a desire to go home to his mother he loses points. If he is quiet and stays away from the guards he wins points. The movie comes to a dramatic ending as the Allied forces are entering the camp. The boy thinks he has won the game. Tragically, however, his father does not live to see the liberation. He is shot by a Nazi guard while escaping to see his wife. The boy, however, survives by hiding in a box and is eventually reunited with his mother. Why the title "Life is Beautiful?" The movie demonstrates the tremendous sacrificial love of the Father for his son-the playful love of the Father-just as scripture attests. What the movie dramatically depicts is that we have a Father that does the same for us! He wants us to see that everything that we experience is a gift! As St. Paul says: "For those that love God all things work for the good!" Even tears (the character played by the Holy Spirit in the Shack collects tears), emotions like anger can be seen as a gift as seen from the right perspective. This Sunday we celebrate Trinity Sunday-one God, three persons. The Father pours Himself into the Son, the Son pours Himself back into the father, and another person is born: the Holy Spirit. We can see this in our human life. The mutual love of a husband and wife produces a child. In friendship the mutual love of two people produces Intimacy-we might call that another person. Theologians like to speak about Trinity ad-intra (in itself) or ad extra (outside of itself, in creation). I think we can better understand the Trinity when we think in terms of relationships. We all know that sometimes three can be a crowd and no one likes to be the third. This is because in the Trinity there is complete oppenness. In human relationships there are always a variety of dynamics and varying degrees of openness. Take for instance a story Steven Covey relates. Steve Covey is author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and gives conferences around the world. Once a young man approached him and said " Steve, my wife and I no longer love each other, should we stay together? We don't have the same feelings that we used to have." Steve looked at him and reminded him that love is not a feeling it is a choice. He encouraged the young man to go back and sacrifice himself for his wife, and if the feelings do not change, continue to sacrifice. That is true love. I was able to witness this at home. Without any fanfare or blowing of trumpets I surprised my parents when I walked into the kitchen and my father was washing the feet and cutting the toenails of my mother. Nothing extravagant, but love in action. This is what happens on a regular basis in the Trinity-each person washes one another's feet. Yes, "Life is Beautiful". You and I have a genetic code that will never be repeated. We all have unique talents and gifts. As Tony Melendez sings "you are his miracle." Scripture also reminds us that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made."All the crosses, disappointments, sufferings, when seen from the perspective of eternity will be like a grain of sand on a beach. We have been created in the image and likeness of the Holy Trinity, and we should rejoice that we have a Father who wants to play with us, shower us with gifts. Yes, "Life is Beautiful!"