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Trinity Sunday

May 26, 2024

Today’s Invitation

Today we invite you to explore the Spirit “written upon our hearts” with the help of Fr. Richard Rohr and a mature spirituality; engage lessons from the Church’s transition to Vatican II, and its move away from that renewal in the present; and embody a spirituality of resilience, justice, and care for our neighbors with the help of The Center for Action and Contemplation, John O’Donohue, and the examples of Laundry Love and Little Free Pantries.


Commentary by Tara Gallagher

Trinity Sunday


Reading 1

Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40

Moses said to the people, “Ask this question, now, looking to the ages that are past, that went before you, from the time when YHWH created people on earth forward: Was there ever a word so majestic, from one end of heaven to the other? Was anything like it ever heard? Did ever a people hear the voice of the living YHWH speaking from the heart of the fire, as you heard it, and live to tell of it? Has any god before ever ventured to take one nation from the midst of another by ordeals, by signs and wonders, by war with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, by the power of terror, as YHWH did in Egypt before your eyes?

“Know this today, therefore, and take it into your hearts: YHWH is God indeed, in heaven above and on earth below, and there is no other. Keep the laws and commandments of the Most High as I give them to you this day, so that you and your children may prosper and live long in the land that YHWH gives you forever.”

Responsorial Psalm

Psalm 33

Response: They are happy whose God is the Creator, The people God has chosen.

For the word of the Creator is faithful, / and all God’s works are to be trusted.
The Creator loves justice and right / and fills the earth with love.

R: They are happy whose God is the Creator, the people God has chosen.

By the Creator’s word the heavens were made,
By the breath of God’s mouth all the stars.
The Creator spoke and it came to be; / commanded, it sprang into existence.

R: They are happy whose God is the Creator, the people God has chosen.

The Creator looks on those who stand in reverence, / on those who hope in God’s love,
To rescue their souls from death, / to keep them alive in famine.

R: They are happy whose God is the Creator, the people God has chosen.

Our soul is waiting for God, / our help and our shield.
May Your faithful love be upon us, O God, / as we place our hope in You.

R: They are happy whose God is the Creator, the people God has chosen.

Reading 2

Romans 8:14-17

Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. For the Spirit that God has given you does not enslave you and trap you in fear; instead, through the Spirit God has adopted you as children, and by that Spirit we cry out, “Abba!” God’s Spirit joins with our spirit to declare that we are God’s children. And if we are children, we are heirs as well: heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, sharing in Christ’s suffering and sharing in Christ’s glory.

Gospel

Matthew 28:16-20

The Eleven made their way to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had summoned them. At the sight of the risen Christ they fell down in homage, though some doubted what they were seeing. Jesus came forward and addressed them in these words:

All authority has been given me
both in heaven and on earth.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations.
Baptize them in the name
of Abba God,
and of the Only Begotten,
and of the Holy Spirit.
Teach them to carry out
everything I have commanded you.
And know that I am with you always,
even until the end of the world!


The Inclusive Lectionary © 2022 FutureChurch. All rights reserved. 

The inclusive language psalms:
Leach, Maureen, O.S.F. and Schreck, Nancy, O.S.F., Psalms Anew: A Non-sexist Edition
(Dubuque, IA: The Sisters of St. Francis, 1984).
Used with permission.

Read

Explore

God’s Spirit Present in this Age


It is a serious thing / Just to be alive / On this fresh morning / In this broken world!  

-Mary Oliver

One of the most hopeful and grounding passages in the New Testament is found in today’s Gospel of Matthew, in Jesus’s promise to the disciples that, “I am with you always, until the end of the age” (28:20). 

We have great need for such hope and grounding today, since, in the last number of years, the world seemed to slip off its axis and the earth below us shifted.

With violence, war, and famine plaguing the globe; a cataclysmic pandemic that separated us by death and by political tribe; welcome, shelter and safety denied to migrants; neighbors lacking food, housing, healthcare, and fair wages; any “other” hated and reviled; citizens shedding democratic principles and hurtling us toward authoritarianism; a dangerous conflation known as Christian Nationalism; a warming climate and imminent ecological disaster…Such widespread upheaval exhausts the mind and distresses the spirit. 

Yet Jesus’s entire message, the promptings of Spirit, Catholic Social Teaching, and our very humanity call us to respond in some way. Catholic Relief Services, quoting Bishop David J. Malloy, reflected this weighty reality in its recent call for prayers of peace for Israel and Gaza, noting: “…We call on the faithful, and all people of good will, to not grow weary…” 

At this collision of unmooring events, the Spirit’s grounding and hopeful presence offers us resilience. More than ever, we collectively need a mature spirituality able to respond, and our own inner journeys to recognize that God’s law and Spirit have been “written upon our hearts” to help us discern the way (Jer 31:33, Ezk 36:26, Heb 10:16, 2Cor 3:3).

This Sunday’s focus on the Trinity invites reflection on some deeper questions these global events stir up. How do we now understand Father sending Son, and Son offering Spirit (Advocate, Counselor, Comforter) to be with us through challenges “until the end of the age?” How does Jesus’s message to the world – its broadness of scope and heart, its symbolism, its invitation to a lifetime journey of spirit-seeking-Spirit – translate to us today in our own soul journeys? And how does it guide our collective response to the world’s needs?

Franciscan friar Fr. Richard Rohr considers an inner journey essential to birthing the soul, the True Self. In his book Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, Rohr says this happens in the second half of life, a journey he says not everyone makes. Taking the second journey is not strictly chronological, but “the two halves are cumulative and sequential, and both are very necessary,” he writes. 

The task in the first half, he says, is building the container of one’s life – identity, home, friends, community, security, etc. It focuses on outward demands and expectations, and is driven largely by the ego, the false self. To “believe a few right things or perform some right rituals” often can “largely substitute for actual spirituality,” and unfortunately, “…a high percentage of people never get to the contents of their own lives!” he writes. But this first task is only the “starting gate,” “the warm-up act, not the full journey,” “the raft but not the shore.”  

Eventually struggles, and promptings of the “still small voice,” lead those who listen, to begin the real inner work of spirit. Rohr says it will feel at first like failing at the first task, like falling. But those who take the second journey become “Big Picture” thinkers, beyond their immediate container and its needs, and become necessary guides to others along the path. “The task of the second half of life is, quite simply, to find the actual contents that this container was meant to hold and deliver.” 

Perhaps we will not be able to fully attend to the questions and troubles of this age until we collectively live in the second journey. But on a recent evening in my backyard, a legion of honey bees hummed in deep pink blooms of a flowering crab apple tree, and later, the Northern Lights danced across the skies. These seemed timely glimpses of God’s Spirit present in this age, and encouragement to not grow weary amid the broken parts of the world.

Commentary by Tara Gallagher


Tara Gallagher was raised in the Rocky Mountain West in a large, close family with Irish roots. She has worked professionally as a history teacher and newspaper journalist, and in museum archives and collections. She and her husband have a grown son and daughter. Family and oral history, old things and music that tell a story, ‘place’ and the natural world, spiritual exploration, and social justice all interest her.
Explore

Engage Catholic Social Teaching

Peace and Justice

Do shaol, do thuras – Your life, your journey

-Irish proverb

Catholics of my age straddled the period between Vatican II renewal and Church teaching of the previous century. My early experience of Catholic learning came at about age four, attending Sunday School excitedly one day with my older sisters. I colored inside the lines of the provided picture, and they studied Baltimore Catechism lessons, learning the answers to the given questions of faith. My main imprint of that day was the teacher’s response to my careful coloring – flat, perhaps disapproving and stern, even. 

By the time I reached high school, Vatican II renewal had taken root and church life had become less about structured answers (or coloring inside the lines). (Written with deference to age-appropriate explanation, certain Truths, and some integral ritual). We were blessed in my locale with several young priests who entered seminary during Vatican II reforms. They seemed spirited, light – joyful, even. Robes and collars were still black and white but didn’t seem to convey that world view. I recall one priest describing how misunderstanding often stemmed from different constructs of law – Roman law, upholding the ideal (the pope’s obligation), and English law, the construct we Americans inherited, setting minimum behaviors and punishments. He also proposed that, had Martin Luther been alive in that time, he likely would have been a reformer at Vatican II. 

Such possibility of nuance conveyed broader thinking. It nurtured a spirituality capable of addressing ethical dilemmas certain to come in shades of gray, and led to looking outward at our neighbors’ needs. Pope John XXIII had called the Second Vatican Council, in part, “to contribute more effectively to the solution of the problems of the modern age.” (Humanae salutis 6, 1961) They arrived in spades during that turbulent decade, and history is repeating 60-some years later. 

These Vatican II priests (and nuns) met pushback of course from people who wanted defined answers, set rituals, established roles, Latin Mass. But the broader understanding of spirituality resonated with many Catholics, including young people facing those problems of the time. It has been discouraging to see the Church recede from this broader spirituality over the decades. And it’s ironic that many of us stopped seeing the Church as a place that confronts today’s problems, just before Francis became pope and embraced what seems to come the closest in a long time to modern Catholic social teaching – and Jesus’s central message to love our neighbor. 

In Falling Upward, Fr. Rohr observes: 

“As a priest of forty years, I find that much of the spiritual and pastoral work of churches is often ineffective at the levels of real transformation, and calls forth immense passivity…As a spiritual director, I find that most people facing the important transformative issues of social injustice, divorce, failure, gender identity, an inner life of prayer, or any radical reading of the Gospel are usually bored and limited by the typical Sunday church agenda…Of course, clergy cannot talk about a further journey if they have not gone on it themselves.” 

At Easter I attended my home church where I first heard the young Vatican II priests. I was heartened to hear the homily emphasize that our own “daily resurrections” connect to caring for the outsider. I miss such disappearing Vatican II voices.

Engage

A Contemplative Exercise


“I believe resilience is the secular word for faith – the ability to trust and let go,” writes Fr. Rohr. The Center for Action and Contemplation he founded offers daily meditations along a yearly theme, and 2024’s “Radical Resilience” explores the very concerns many of us share. It begins: “Contemplation helps us engage with a world on fire – without burning up or out.” The center’s resources can be found here. For an archive of previous readings, start here.

In addition, John O’Donohue, who was an Irish poet, author, and philosopher, offered many fine insights. Excerpts from his books can be found on this page.

One example for meditation:

For Peace
As the fever of day calms towards twilight
May all that is strained in us come to ease.
We pray for all who suffered violence today,
May an unexpected serenity surprise them.
For those who risk their lives each day for peace,
May their hearts glimpse providence at the heart of history.
That those who make riches from violence and war
Might hear in their dreams the cries of the lost.
That we might see through our fear of each other
A new vision to heal our fatal attraction to aggression.
That those who enjoy the privilege of peace
Might not forget their tormented brothers and sisters.
That the wolf might lie down with the lamb,
That our swords be beaten into ploughshares
And no hurt or harm be done
Anywhere along the holy mountain.

-From his book To Bless the Space Between Us


A Community

Little Free Pantry and Laundry Love

A car rolls down the alley and stops near the guild house of the Episcopal church at the other end. There’s a Little Free Pantry there, started by the congregation in 2022 to help folks whose paycheck or food bank support wasn’t stretching through the month. Anyone can anonymously pick up what they need any time, and anyone with extra can drop off. In this western part of our state, many locals lost their rentals and became food insecure with the post-pandemic influx of new residents. One parishioner noticed free pantries while visiting Chicago and approached her vestry to try one here. They spread the word to members, neighbors and the community, people began to donate goods, and use has increased since. 

Elsewhere in town, a woman noticed a homeless man while hauling her clothes to the laundromat one day and realized that a chore to many is a luxury to others. With prayer, research, advice, a cooperating laundromat, many volunteers, and her own family’s tax return as start-up, she began a community-supported, free and anonymous Laundry Love service. It provides coins, detergent and friendly help, aimed at giving homeless and low-income people the dignity of clean clothes and linens. Now called Loads of Dignity, it also provides toiletries, kids’ items, and shower vouchers, with support from individuals, churches, civic organizations, a temporary shelter, benefit fundraisers, grants from businesses and foundations, and even a school kids’ penny drive. 

These were two new ideas here. It takes a village, but sometimes it starts with one person awake to the Spirit.

Embody