homily – October 8

Trinity Sunday

On Trinity Sunday we celebrate the mystery that the inner life of God is a life of relationships – The Father eternally begets the Son and the Spirit of love binds all three together. It’s a reality we really can’t get our heads around but as I mentioned before a mystery is not something of which we can know nothing, it is something of which we cannot know everything.

The 15 billion year history of our universe manifests that all creation is bound in relationships – solar systems relating to solar systems, planets to planets – species to species – cells to cells – atoms to atoms into the very depth of reality.

In today’s Genesis story of creation we see this same manifestation of relationship – it is not good for man – for anyone to be alone – because God is never alone – so in this story we see God trying to cure Adam’s loneliness by offering him helpmates, partners. Adam’s very naming of animals and birds forms a relationship with them – but they are not enough for Adam’s interpersonal needs. So we have the poetic imagery of God taking Adam’s rib and forming woman – flesh of his flesh, bone of his bone – so that these two could have a loving and life giving relationship – the two become one in mind, one in heart and one in affection. It is in and through our loving and life giving relationships – with one another and with God’s creation that we are in relationship with God.

As I mentioned last week we hope that through our prayer and praise in this ‘green’ church we come to our own greening, in the sense that we become more sensitive to and aware of our relationship, our kinship with all the life forms that share planet earth with us.

Today’s gospel is always a difficult one to deal with. In it Jesus takes us back to the beginnings and His insistence on holding on to God’s original dream of human relationships – the two become one. The words of Jesus are demanding – no divorce – if you remarry you commit adultery. Marriage in the days of Jesus is far removed from our reality of marriage – yet the ideal remains the same – til death do us part.

Often we romanticize the past, we think back on the golden age when divorce was a rarity. But the truth of the matter is – there were all kinds of marriage breakdowns even though society did not tolerate marriage break ups.

Yet just about every family deals with the harsh reality of divorce – not only the reality but the hurt and disappointment of divorce. Divorce is a form of death and we grieve for those who die. Divorce shatters the lives of husband and wife and children and the whole extended family. Divorce lets loose anger and resentment, rage and revenge – it rips apart the fabric of so many lives. We know that the ones who suffer the most are the children – I hate it when people who split tell me the children are coping very well – it’s wishful thinking. They are in denial.

Marriage is supposed to be a community of life and love – but what to do if a relationship becomes physically or emotionally abusive – if it becomes death dealing instead of life giving, destructive instead of creative? No one should be expected to stay in such a relationship.

But how should we see people who have divorced? First of all we can’t stand in judgment of their decision to end their relationships. They are still family, they are still church and they are always welcome here. They need our understanding and our support. We can pray for them that their wounds heal and that they find a new life giving love.

The gospel and Jesus quoting Genesis and ‘in the beginning God made them male and female’ brings us to the divisive issue of gay marriage. People have strong feelings about this matter. The fact is the government has the obligation to protect the rights of all its citizens – rights to housing and jobs and freedom from discrimination and the freedom to enter into honest and committed relationships, relationships that are protected by law – even if we can’t understand such relationships. Contrary to common perception, our Bishops have always recognized that obligation. It is their belief that the government made a mistake in extending to such relationships the title of marriage. I believe common sense tells us this is not so. The British has the wisdom to name such relationships – civil unions – with all the civil and legal rights of marriage. And all the emotional stress and strain of being faithful to their commitments as husbands and wives have to be faithful to their commitments.

As we continue to celebrate this Mass we thank God for all the stable, healthy life giving relationships that exist within our parish family – we pray for those who are in troubled relationships – we pray for those who have suffered the breakdown and breakup of their relationships, and we pray that they may know healing and find new love.