Aloha Friday Message – June 14, 2019 – Trinity Too

1924AFC061419 –Trinity Too*

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John 3:16-18 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Gospel Readings for Trinity Sunday

Year A – Matthew 28:16-20    This is The Great Commission. It is the command given to all Christians to evangelize the entire world.

Year C – John 16:12-15 – This is from the discourse at the Last Supper. Jesus is telling the Disciples that he will be leaving them soon; they, of course, do not understand, but he assures them that the Holy Spirit will come to them and help them to remember and understand everything he has taught them. This is the reading for this current Cycle.

Year B – John 3:1-17 – One of the best-know, most-quoted passages in the Bible, this passage describes in just a few words the amazing plan God has implemented by sending his Son for the Salvation of the World.  I respectfully ask you to follow that link and read that passage. Here’s a way to reflect on it:

Tom and Margaret went to the same high school from their freshman to senior years. They always “sort of” got along, but both of them were fiercely independent and a bit feisty. Still, they did make a good couple. They were often seen cruising in Tom’s clunky old ’58 Chevy pickup. He’d be driving with one hand, and Margaret would be snuggled up right next to him. Toward the end of their Senior year, they were practically inseparable, and by the week after graduation, each was feeling a yearning emptiness for the other. They were headed for different colleges in the Fall, and it seemed they’d never really get back together. In less than a year, they lost touch with each other. Neither made the effort to reach out, although Margaret still thought about Tom now and then.

At their Five-Year Class reunion they seemed to pick up right where they left off. Within just months they were married. Twenty-two years and four kids later, they were taking a Sunday drive in their 1958 Chevy Apache pickup they’d restored together just as Tommy was graduating from high school. Margaret looked over at Tom and said, “You know, twenty years ago when we were younger, we never sat this far apart.” Tom’s response was quicker than it should have been and he knew it was too late to snatch it back when he said, “Well, I haven’t moved.”

Beloved, how close to your Heavenly Father do you sit as the two of you travel through your life? Have you ever experienced the comfort of snuggling up with Jesus as you travel down the Road of Life? Does the Holy Spirit brighten your way even in the worst of traffic? If you don’t feel as close to God as you used to – or want to – think about the reason for it. Why does God seem so far away?

The three readings at the top are reading from the Solemnity of the Holy Spirit for each of the three cycles of readings – A, B, and C.  I want to focus on the Year B reading for this message.

John 3:16 is probably the most-cited and most-quoted verse in the Bible. Upwards of 80% of the world has seen JOHN 3:16 on television, in print, on the Internet, on billboards, in pamphlets, and heard it on every kind of broadcast media. It is a favorite memory-verse, quoted by millions of Christians worldwide. You might say it’s the basic tune of Christians everywhere. That phrase, “whosever believeth in Him” is brandished with unrelenting fervor as believers confront unbelievers to ask them, “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?” If you say no, they may try to move you in that direction – push, pull, or carry you to the foot of the Cross. If you say yes, then perhaps the next question will be, “Do you have a church home?” That’s often followed by an invitation to make their church your church, their Jesus your Jesus, their religion – the only right and true faith – your religion because anything else falls woefully short of God’s plan for your salvation. It’s like, “Join us or go to Hell.” Maybe you feel that is a mischaracterization, a caricature if you will, but when I am confronted by that style of evangelization, I will often ask, “What about John 3:17?”

Most people don’t memorize that one. Some people slide right past it, so sure of being redeemed eternally because they are confident they are in the group called “Whosever Believeth in Him” that they have no qualm whatsoever in roping off their part of the world with the Personal-Relationship Clause of their religion. So, what about John 3:17? 17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him …” It seems to me that if God sent Jesus for Salvation and not condemnation, I shouldn’t be condemning either. It seems too impersonal to write someone off because they disagree with me about how my relationship with Jesus works. “Of course I have a personal relationship with Jesus,” I tell them. “In fact, I have a close, personal, and deeply satisfying relationship with the whole family – Father, Son, Holy Spirit, our Blessed Mother, and all the Angels and Saints.”

Perhaps it is unkind to respond that way, and I confess I have taken the wind from the sails of an occasional evangelizer by saying, “Yes I’ve accepted Jesus and my personal Savior. Have you accepted Mary as your personal Mother?”  I believe a personal relationship with Jesus is a very good idea, certainly attainable, and I do continuously reassess the relative distance between us (and it’s always me who has moved).  It is the Trinity, however, to whom I gravitate. When I say, “God,” I mean “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” When I say, “God bless you,” I am asking the Trinity to bless you. They are, after all, three distinct Persons all in one Being. Because I am created “in the image and likeness of God,” I can see the same patterns in me. (See Genesis 1:26-27) Image and likeness are two different things that mean the same thing. In Hebrew, image is from צֶ֫לֶם – tselem {tseh’-lem}, and likeness is from דְּמוּת demuth {dem-ooth’}. Belovéd,  I looked at all kinds of explanations about the differences and similarities and  it got pretty complicated – it’s like an emphatic way of confirming a given quality (like saying “shape” and “form”) – so maybe I can state it this way:

“You know, Tommy’s just a chip off the old block. He’s got his dad’s good looks but also his stubborn streak and his great compassion.” Tommy looks like and acts like his dad. We were created in such a way that we look like and act like our Heavenly Father – we should be like him. God is Spirit; we are spirit. God creates everything from nothing; we make many things from what God created. God chooses to do his will; we can choose to do his will or choose not to. God is community; we are born into community and are stronger as community. God is infinitely intelligent and wise; we use our God-given gifts of intellect and wisdom to shape our lives and the world around us. God communicates to us through creation, through scripture, and through our gifts; we communicate with God and each other in the same ways.

God gave us himself as a Father and Creator. God gave us himself as a Brother and Savior. God gave us himself as an Advocate and Companion. God is always and everywhere present in our lives as Trinity, the Almighty and Ever-living God, Father, Son, and Spirit. If we move away from his Fatherly care, Jesus’ brotherly love moves closer to us. If we turn away from Jesus, the Holy Spirit speaks the words of our hearts into the heart of God. If we mistrust the Gifts and Fruit of the Holy Spirit, God the Father and God the Son inundate us with even more gifts – so much of a deluge of gifts that the flow of that generosity, like a River of Life, carries us to the Presence of God in and through our ways of looking like and acting like we belong to God.

I once heard something on the TV series The West Wing that never left my mind. It went something like, “If you are not sure you are a righteous man, act as though you were, and you will be.” I believe it’s based on a quote from Aristotle: “Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting in a particular way.” If you are saved by believing in Jesus rather than condemned by sin, act accordingly. BE a son or daughter of God (John 1:12 again), BE a sister or brother of Jesus, BE a vessel or conduit of the Holy Spirit. You are body, mind, and spirit. So is God. If you want to be nearer to him, be nearer to all of him, our Almighty, Ever-Living, Triune God and we will be closer to The Trinity, too!

And so, Belovéd, now you may better understand what Saint Paul said in 2 Corinthians 13:14 – which I repeat to you here:

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

* Parts of this were posted under Aloha Friday Messages at http://www.aloha-friday.org – The Moon Beam Network as 1424AFC061314 – Blessed Trinity

 

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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