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May 27, 2018

“A young priest, just fresh out of seminary, wanted his congregation to understand the mystery of the Holy Trinity.  He brought up all explanations he got from school and all knowledge handed out to him by the great theologians of all time.  Half an hour had passed but the priest felt that the congregation did not understand yet and he continued to drag on and on. A little girl became restless.  Finally, she leaned over to her mother and whispered, "Mommy, if we give him the money now, will he let us go?"

This week 34 priests including me attended the annual priest retreat.  Bishop McGrattan is the retreat master and he share with us the theme of priesthood.  There are 9 conferences: (1) Reflection of the Priesthood; “I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you” 2 Tim 1:6; (2) Vocation – Gift & Mystery: “Come and see” Jn. 1: 39; (3) Life of Faith: “I am the servant of the Lord… Let what you have said be done to me” Lk 1:38; (4) Life of Service: Do you understand what I have done to you” Jn. 13:13; (5) Priestly Identity: May your hidden self, grow strong” Eph. 3: 17; (6) Spirituality and Priestly Life: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me” Lk. 4: 18; (7) Community and Priestly Life: “Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul” Acts 4: 32; (8) Priesthood – Mission to Proclaim the Word: “He sent them out to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal” Lk. 9: 2; (9) Priesthood – Eucharist: “Do this in memory of me” Lk. 22: 19.  It was a good occasion for me to take time and to reflect on the call of God and my response to be a priest.  Sometimes at the parish level, I just go, go and go.  The demand of the parish is so great. I often don’t pause to reflect or question, who am I? Why am I here? What am I doing?  What is the purpose?

I also had a chance to listen to my brother priests with their successes and especially their struggles.  The more I listened, the greater appreciation I have for you, the people at Holy Family Parish.  In Medicine Hat I have more joys than challenges.  Thanks be to God.  At the end, my priesthood is to help you get closer to the Holy Trinity and the Holy Trinity closer to you.  This Sunday we celebrate the solemnity of the Holy Trinity.  I recall fondly my late Dogma professor in the seminary. When he came to the section on the Trinity in the textbook, he turned the pages quickly and said, "Saint Thomas Aquinas, late of the University of Paris and the Albert Einstein of his day, didn't understand the Holy Trinity. So, it is most unlikely that you will either. Just remember St Paul mentions the Trinity 30 times in his letters. Take it on faith and you'll muddle through somehow." I trust that the professor and St. Thomas both now understand the Holy Trinity perfectly in heaven.

I myself never have difficulty buying into a God who is passionately in love with me, a Son who is willing to die for me and a Holy Spirit whose job is to help me become a person like Saint Thomas Aquinas. I recall a husband, who said when he became a father, he better understood the Holy Trinity. When he and his wife had their son, they had evidence of their love for each other. There was the lover, the beloved, and the love, each distinct and yet one.

The feast of the Holy Trinity is more than the assertion of an article of faith.  Yes, it emphasizes our belief in One God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  But the feast is more than a celebration of dogma. The feast is about personal relationships: the interrelationship of the three persons of the Trinity, the relationship of God and us, and the relationship of us and our fellow men and women. All three relationships are pointed to in the Gospel this Sunday. This Sunday’s Gospel is the conclusion of the Gospel of Matthew.  It contains the Lord’s final words to his disciples just before the Ascension. “Go and make disciples of all nations.  Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Teach them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And know that I am with you until the end of time” (Mt. 28: 20).