Holy trinity

Claimed in the name of the Trinity

There are two towns relatively close to us here on the west coast of Florida that are of tremendous historical significance, St Augustine, Florida and Savannah, Georgia. Each was the place where explorers landed and claimed land for their king.

June 07, 2020

trinity sunday
Readings: Exodus 34: 4b-6, 8-9;
2 Corinthians 13: 11-13;
Gospel: John 3: 16-18

There are two towns relatively close to us here on the west coast of Florida that are of tremendous historical significance, St Augustine, Florida and Savannah, Georgia. Each was the place where explorers landed and claimed land for their king.

On September 8, 1565, Don Pedro Menendez de Avila landed on the northeast coast of Florida and founded the first colony of the New World, Saint Augustine. With banners fluttering and in full dress, Menendez planted the Spanish flag and claimed the land in the name of Philip II, the King of Spain.

Just a two and a half hour drive north of St Augustine, another colony has been established for another king. On February 12, 1733, 168 years after Menendez, General James Oglethorpe landed in Savannah and claimed the land in the name of its king, George II of England. The colony was also named after the king and referred to as Georgia.

Once a land was claimed for a king, it was considered part of the kingdom. Any assault on this colony would be treated as an assault on the kingdom, not on a distant land.

When we were baptized we were claimed in the name of the Holy Trinity. The priest or deacon poured out the water and said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. From then on, the Kingdom of God expanded wherever we could be. We are under the protection of the Kingdom against any assault, especially the assault of evil.

But why have we been baptized in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit? Why not just in the name of Jesus Christ? Why weren’t we baptized just in the name of God? We have been baptized in the name of the Trinity because we have been claimed by all that God is, the fullness of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Today’s celebration, the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, reminds us that we belong to the fullness of God. The readings each give a glimpse of one of the Persons of the Trinity. In the first reading of Exodus, God descended from a cloud and proclaimed his name, “Lord.” Or maybe it was the angelic hosts crying, “The Lord, the Lord, a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and rich in goodness and faithfulness.” These are the attributes given to the first person of the Trinity, the Father. The Gospel proclaims that the love of God is so great that he gave us his Son to save us from the onslaught of evil. The second reading of Second Corinthians introduces the Father, the Son, and the Spirit as Saint Paul prays that we continue to enjoy union with the Holy Spirit, the Power of God working through us and uniting us in l ‘Church.

The heart of the mystery is simply that God dwells in us. Unfortunately, some people continue the concept held by many in revolutionary times – that God is taken from us. This is not what God told us. In John 14, Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our house with him. He’s not there somewhere. He is here in the spiritual life that makes a human a child of God. Jesus promised us that he would never leave us alone, and we are not alone. He is always with us, not just outside of us, but within us. The ability to invoke the power of God and the ability to be the vehicles of that power forever is the gift of Pentecost, the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Our dignity as sons and daughters of God is more than a title. We have been called for by God. We belong to Him. It belongs to us. We must keep this in mind when others present as normal the one where God is not found. We need to ask ourselves, “Is God in the room, in the house, at the party?” If people appreciate His gifts while honoring His Presence, then we know He’s there. If people flaunt the basic tenets of morality, then we know He’s not there. And we know that it is unworthy of our dignity as children of God to be there ourselves.

In the sacrament of Penance, good people come to recognize that they have not behaved as well as they should. Sometimes people have a long list of serious sins that they want to confess. They will continue to talk about sexual sin, sins of hate, disrespecting themselves and others, etc. When they’re done, if they’ve sat down across from me, they’ll often look at me sheepishly, expecting a scolding or something. I don’t scold people. I just tell them, “You’re better than that, and you know it. This is why you are here. And I also know that I am better than the many times that I have strayed from God. By better, I mean we are sons and daughters of God. We are children of God. We are better than the forces of the world who are trying to destroy us.

Saint Augustine was not just an isolated colony. It was part of the Spanish Empire. She could claim the King of Spain as her protector. Savannah was not just an isolated colony. It was part of the British Empire. She could claim the King of England as protector. And we are not just members of a religion. We are part of the Kingdom of God. We claim our God as our protector, our protector against the evil that tries to destroy us.

Today we remember both: who is God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and who we are, the children of God carrying His Presence into the world. –Through Bishop Joseph A Pellegrino