Before celebrating the Vigil Mass for Pentecost last weekend, I was trying to work in the parish office at Bathurst and Bloor, but I could not help wondering about the humming sound of helicopters hovering over the area. It struck me as strange that these helicopters seemed so close and were staying in one place for such a long time.
That’s when I noticed the approach of what seemed like a huge roaring crowd.
As I went outside to investigate, I was astonished to see thousands of men and women of every race, colour and nationality walking along Bloor Street to protest against racism. The helicopters were following the crowd as they marched along Bloor Street en route to Christie Pits Park, where the people could gather together.
I couldn’t help but think: What a beautiful sight on Pentecost — people of all nations marching together to speak for the value of every human being, created in the image and likeness of God.
I have often felt that Pentecost has a special value for us here in Toronto, as it marks that solemnity on which the Holy Spirit was sent to the disciples so they could bring the Good News of salvation to people of every colour and nationality. Here in Toronto, we see in our churches all of God’s people, from every land and nation, of every colour and nationality. In fact, the very word “catholic” means “universal” and refers to the love that God has for all His people. As one bumper sticker I recently saw expressed so beautifully, “Racism is about sin, not the colour of skin.”
The Gospel for this week’s Solemnity of the Holy Trinity also made me think of the love that God has for all people, as it reminds us that God’s salvation is for everyone who believes in His Son and accepts Him as Lord.
God loves everyone so much, because He has created all of us in His image and likeness. He invites all of us to recognize our dignity – and the dignity of every person – by loving one another and enjoying eternity with Him.
This Sunday, we celebrate the love that God has within God’s self as a Holy Trinity of Persons. From the love expressed in the Holy Trinity, we are called to learn how to love God and one another. This is a love that must stand against all forms of racism and discrimination.
As Catholics, every time we pray, we begin by invoking the names of the three persons of the Holy Trinity, whose solemnity we celebrate this Sunday: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
This custom can be so habitual that at times we may do it without realizing how profound those words are. Each time we name the three persons of the Holy Trinity, we are articulating a great mystery about God and his proximity to us, as revealed by God Himself.
We only know about the Trinity and the names of the persons contained within God, because Jesus told us about Them.
As the Son of God, sent from the Father, Jesus has told us to call God “our Father” and has repeatedly spoken to us about the Father. During His life, Jesus promised His disciples that He would send them the Holy Spirit after He had returned to the Father. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the Church by Jesus and His Father in Heaven. That the three cannot be separated is witnessed to in the passage from the end of the Gospel of Matthew (chapter 28), as Jesus commissions His disciples to baptize all people “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
Everything we know about God as the Trinity has been revealed to us by the Trinity Himself. We can learn so much about God’s love for us in reflecting on this great mystery of our faith.
The fact that God exists as a Trinity of persons within one God speaks to the reality that God’s love is so great that it is impossible for Him to exist on His own. The force of His love is so powerful and dynamic that it is responsible for all of creation (I often think the best way to describe the Earth’s creation is as a “Big Bang” of God’s love).
Each of the three persons of the Holy Trinity reveals an awesome aspect of God’s love and identity.
God the Father is the source of all creation. He willed each of us into existence so we might know the love that He has for each of us. Everything we have and are is from Him. Every race and nation has its origin in the love of God the Father. Our lives are sustained by Him and we are called to return so we might know the fullness of happiness with Him in Heaven for all eternity.
As Jesus Himself has taught us that the Father wishes us to call on Him intimately, calling Him “our Father.” We express our own intimacy with the creator of the universe every time that we pray, calling upon Him and addressing our prayers, “In the name of the Father.” But when we speak so intimately with God there is a danger that we will grow overly familiar and forget who we are speaking to and what we owe Him.
Jesus, the Son, has been sent by the Father so we might understand how much the Father loves each of us. Christ told us He came to reconcile us to the Father. As we hear in the Gospel this Sunday: “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.”
All who see Jesus, see the Father and come to know His love for us.
Jesus came to us in the flesh so God could share His life with us. Jesus shows that every human being is loved by God. There is a beautiful prayer that is said at the preparation of the gifts during Mass that states: “By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the Divinity of Christ who humbled Himself to share in our humanity.”
We can often forget that Jesus became one of us so that He might share His divinity with us. We are invited to share eternal life with Him in heaven. But he has also come so that God may share His life with us now and so that we do not need to wait until we are in Heaven. This invitation is given to people of very colour and nation.
Now that His mission on Earth has been completed, Christ is now seated at the right hand of the Father, where He presents our prayers to the Father in His own name. This we are to remember every time that we begin our prayers in “the name of the Son.”
The Holy Spirit
Through the Holy Spirit we are able to be in contact with God here and now. It is through the Holy Spirit that our prayers can be heard.
The Holy Spirit manifests God’s love and grace to us, and allows Him to intimately dwell in our hearts today. Because of the Holy Spirit, we are in communion with God at every moment in our lives. The fact that the Holy Spirit enters into the hearts of all people – of every colour and nation – shows us the dignity of all people created by God. The Spirit enters into our hearts like the breath of God and is made present through prayer, Scripture and the sacraments of the Church.
God’s intimacy is encountered in every moment of our existence through the Holy Spirit. This is why we always present our prayers “in the name of the Holy Spirit.”
Each time that we begin our prayers with these words, we recall the words with which we were baptized and given new life in Christ. These words speak to us of how closely God dwells in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. They remind us of the love that God has shown us in the life of His Son. These words also speak to us of a radically loving Father who wishes to be intimately close to each of us, even though He is the same Father who created the universe and holds it in existence.
As we reflect upon the great mystery of the Trinity, let us also pray:
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, Is now, and ever shall be, A world without end. Amen.
As we celebrate how much God loves us, we are reminded that we are to respond to this love by loving one another.
May the love of the Holy Trinity sustain us all, now and forever! May this love help us to end all racism and put aside everything that prevents us from seeing Christ in all of our brothers and sisters.