29th/30th May 2021

posted 9 Jun 2021, 04:46 by Parish Office

Homily for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Year B (29 & 30/5/21)

Next week we celebrate the solemnity of Corpus Christi, or The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, to give it its English title. Normally we would have a procession after the 11 am Mass, but the current requirements for social distancing would make it all a little tricky. But the subject of Corpus Christi processions gives me a link into today’s feast and Gospel reading. The normal thing to do in a Corpus Christi procession, if you are part of the crowd, rather than part of the procession, is to kneel down as the monstrance passes containing the Host, because the Host is Christ Himself, present body, blood, soul and divinity. We as human beings are present here now body, blood and soul, but Christ, because He is both God and man, also has divinity, hence why we worship and adore Him as God.

In the Gospel reading today, it says that when the Eleven saw Jesus, “they fell down before him, though some hesitated”. It had taken the Eleven a good while to come round to the idea that Jesus was God as well as man. Understandably so, because they had been taught that God is One, which He is, so they wouldn’t in that sense have expected Jesus to be God. In St Mark’s Gospel, it’s when Our Lord is being tried by the Sanhedrin that everything reaches a climax. The various so-called witnesses have made statements that are conflicting, nothing to convict Christ. So the high priest puts a question to Him: “Are you the Christ, … the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus doesn’t just say “yes”, but he actually says “I AM”, which is the very name of God Himself, the mysterious name of God that the Jews did not dare to pronounce. Jesus not only pronounces it, but says it applies to Himself. And for that, they convict Him of blasphemy (see Mark 14:55-65).

Spring forward to the Resurrection, and Jesus has shown that He is truly God. No prophet had risen from the dead by his own authority and then been able to appear at will in different places even through closed doors. Furthermore, when Jesus appeared, He wasn’t just an apparition – He was real flesh and blood, and could be touched, His wounds could be examined, and He was able to eat with them just as before. So when He appears in today’s Gospel, they treat Him as God and fall down before Him. He is Lord, and we will treat Him as Lord.

In the second reading, St Paul speaks about the Holy Spirit. We have to remember that our faith teaches us that we believe in one God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So the Holy Spirit is equally God together with the Father and the Son. He is due the same respect and honour as the Father and the Son.

Sometimes, you hear people speaking about God, Jesus and the Spirit. It sounds like they only believe that the Father is God, and that the Son and Holy Spirit are lesser creatures. (It also sounds a bit like what the Muslims believe.) But we do not believe in a greater, a lesser and a least. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are equal in majesty, and one. We don’t believe in three gods. When people try to picture all this and describe it, sometimes they get tied in knots, because it is so beyond human understanding (as you would expect for God). We don’t believe in one God who is one person, who like a chameleon changes between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We believe in one God who is three persons.

Around this time last year, Steve Fleming from Oscott was staying with me in the presbytery, and we were having a bit of a heated discussion about something over the dinner table – I can’t remember the exact topic. I laid a trap for him, but he knew his Trinitarian theology. As things got more heated, I was waiting for him to say, there’s only one person who’s perfect, and that’s God, and then I could have said right, caught you out – that’s heresy. God is three persons, not one. But he saw the trap prepared and avoided it, and we both laughed that my plan was foiled.

The Muslims, as I said, do deny that the Son and Holy Spirit are God. We need to know our faith well to engage with them. We no longer live in a world where we can neglect what our faith actually teaches on these points. Otherwise, just as some Protestants will catch out Catholics because they don’t understand what they should and should not believe about Our Lady, so the Muslims will do the same with regard to the Holy Trinity. The Muslims will at times misrepresent our faith, and we need to know it well enough to correct them.

Going back briefly to the feast of Corpus Christi: some time ago, Richard Dawkins, on-line, largely got right what the Catholic Church teaches with regard to transubstantiation, and said it was ridiculous. Then, to their shame, various Catholics replied and said, that’s not what we believe, and showed that they actually believed Protestant doctrine. It then took other Catholics to correct both the first group of Catholics and Richard Dawkins. Let’s not do the same with the Most Holy Trinity. We don’t want Catholics showing that they actually believe Muslim doctrine. Let’s fall down and worship the one God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit – the only God, the true God, and the only One worth worshipping.

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