Trinity Sunday A

“Encourage one another”

Richard G. E. Beemer, in a recent article on the International Special Olympics, told a touching story about the power of encouragement.

The “Special Olympics,” of course, are athletic contests for people old and young who are physically or mentally handicapped. It was Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the sister of President John F. Kennedy, who launched these “Olympic” contests in 1963 as a builder of morale among the disadvantaged. Perhaps many people are unaware that one of the late President’s sisters suffers a mental handicap. Hence, Mrs. Shriver’s particular interest.)

In 1979, the Special Olympics, previously participated in only by Americans, were declared international. Held that year at Brockport, New York, they attracted contestants and “fans” from several nations. In these contests, as in earlier ones, winning was not the aim; finishing was. Everybody who finished was cheered and hugged just for making the effort. One of the events at Brockport was a wheelchair race. A thunderstorm broke out during the race, but the racers reached their goal anyhow. With one exception. The slowest of the “wheelers” had an accident. He hit some wet ground and fell out of his chair.

What did the audience do? “No one went to his aid,” Beemer reported.”Instead, the crowd cheered wildly for him to get back into his wheelchair, and after what seemed a very long time, he finally struggled back onto the wheelchair and finished the race.”

One of the spectators noticed that a coach sitting in the sidelines was crying. “Are you all right?” he asked him. The trainer answered wiping away his tears, “I’ve been coaching and working with that boy for over two years, trying to teach him to climb back onto his chair should he ever fall out. This is the first time he’s ever made it.”

The coach was crying for joy, not for sorrow. Encouragement had turned the trick.

Father George Farrell, a Jesuit priest who took part in the Baton Rouge I.S.O. of 1983, had this comment: “These kids need the sense of accomplishment, the sense of self-worth. It gives you a great thrill knowing you’ve helped them to do something important.”

When St. Paul told the Corinthians to “encourage one another,” (today’s second reading), he did not have only “special” people in mind. Specials are not the only ones helped by cheering. All of us need a pat on the back. All of us “love to be loved.”

-Father Robert F. McNamara

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Q320: I find it hard to relate the Holy Trinity to my own life. Is there a way?

Somewhere I remember reading a comment by that great Jesuit preacher, Walter Burghardt, that has stuck with me: “without the Trinity, life would make little sense.” The reason for me is simple: it is because of God’s love that you and I even exist! He desires to share His very life with us, and all He asks is that we return His love! Our Gospel today (Jn 3:16-18) proclaims that very essence of God, “love.” “Yes, God so loved the world that he gave us his only Son…(for our) eternal life.” Believing in Him, and living fully the Christian life that He taught us, is “returning” His love.

If you are single, you have experienced the unity, oneness and total self-giving of your parents, which co-created love: you! If you are married, you have experienced unity, oneness and total self-giving which of itself co-creates love: your children! This is not about “me”; it is about the “us” which is created by total self-giving. All of this total self-giving mirrors the love within the Holy Trinity. This is also why the Sacrament of Marriage is a wonderful example of and mystery of the Holy Trinity itself, as St. Paul teaches (Eph 5:32).

As you can see clearly, the key words above are “total self-giving.” This is the divine life God wants to share with us. This is the kind of human life we are called to lead. This is what “unity” is all about. And that is why, for me, “without the Trinity, life would make little sense.”

KNOW YOUR CATECHISM! Our Catholic Church teaches that God is One, in three Persons, the “Trinity” (CCC#253). This is an undivided Unity, and the distinction of Persons resides solely in the relationships between them; that relationship is always self-giving love (CCC#255). How are you reflecting that “totally self-giving” love in your daily life? Think about the implications of your answer.

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In His Own Image He Created Them

People most clearly show their humanity when they are true images, reflections of the God who made them — the God of relationships, the God who reveals himself in the diverse and living reality of community. This is a great mystery that demands more in imitation than in understanding. There is an icon that portrays the Trinity. It reflects the Genesis story of God visiting Abraham and Sarah in the form of three angels. The icon shows three angels sitting around a squarer table looking out at the viewer. In the center of the table is a large cup of wine. There is a fourth seat which is empty. It seems to invite the viewer {us} to sit there and join in the communion of the Three, to taste and see the fullness of the Lord, the God who creates us, frees us and guides us through life. When we were baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we were welcomed into that community of the Sacred Trinity as well as into a diverse human community, and we were commissioned to carry to others the invitation to share in this relationship.

Let us give praise to the Father who created us in his image, to the Son who brought us to new life, and to the Spirit who abides with us and fills us with his gifts.

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