June 11, 2019 | The Valley Catholic
By Father Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose, and Vicar General for
Special Projects, Diocese of San Jose. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, June 16, 2019
To Know a Rose
When we celebrate the feast of Most Holy Trinity, I think of a rose. Scientists
can take a rose and pull it apart, take all its petals and its thorns and analyze it and
know lots about a rose; they give you the scientific components. What is it made of
and how it got to be what it is; the colors and all that can be empirically known. But
it is only about the rose as opposed to knowing the rose itself. But when we take a
rose and we give it to a loved one and watch their face light up as they smell the
beauty of that rose, then we experience the rose and what it means.
In other words, we can know lots about a rose but the real experience of a rose is
in looking, smelling and appreciating the beauty of it but also the joy it can bring
That is the way it is with the Most Holy Trinity. We can analyze and breakdown
the Trinity and give doctrinal explanation but in the end to really understand,
we have to experience the Trinity. The mystery of God is not something to be
explained as much as an invitation to enter into the dynamic reality of who God
is and his love for us.
We are trying to explain something that cannot be explained because God is
beyond our explanations. It is ineffable, beyond words. Anything we say of God
will only be something about God. The only way we can fully understand it is to
experience God. In other words, experience love.
We can learn from any human experience. When we experience love for who
we are, it is magical. When we realize that we are loved, not for what we have done
or what we have said but for who we are in our essence, then it is transformative.
It changes us from within. It is not something that happens externally; it happens
internally and we are transformed by it. Let me offer an example:
The other day I was at the Atrium retirement center. As I pulled up, I noticed
two elderly brothers, over 80+ years old, helping each other get out of the car. I
was touched. “Wow. That is beautiful.” Then they both went to the back of the car
and they helped their elderly mother out of the car, she was 100+ years old and
very frail. Here were these two big, older men helping their mother out of the car.
They put her into a wheelchair and handed her a rose. She beamed with delight.
That kind of love is transforming even to watch. That is something in which we
seek to participate. That is something in which that we ought to participate. Love!
When we experience love, the challenge is to pass it on. Not to hold onto it, not
to hoard it for ourselves but it is to pass it on. That is the essence of the Trinity; to
receive and to pass it on to others.
Sunday, June 23, 2019
To Take and Give
In the Holy Land, the Jordan River flows into and through the Sea of Galilee.
While the Sea of Galilee is nearly 700 feet below sea level, it is teeming with life,
fresh fish and food of all sorts. It is where Peter, James and John were fishermen.
And it is where Jesus met a significant number of his disciples. He began his
The Jordan River then flows down to the lowest part of the earth; to a body of
water, which is 1400 feet below sea level called the Dead Sea. And there it stops!
The Dead Sea is dead because there is no outlet. The same water that gives life in
Galilee becomes dead because it stops flowing. The Dead Sea is known for its high
density of salt and as a result, no life can live in it.
This is a great metaphor for life. We receive so many gifts and if we hold onto
them and never share them with others then we become like the Dead Sea, we
die. Everything inside of us dies and even part of us dies. If we are like the Sea of
Galilee, then we take, and we give. We will not only have life but we will also give life.
Today’s feast is that of the Body and Blood of Christ. While we celebrate the
Eucharist every week, we celebrate today in a most reverent way adding emphasis
to the importance that we take but also to give. We often hear “to give and take.”
In this case, it is take and give. We are meant to take and receive the grace that
God gives us every single week in the Eucharist. But we are reminded at a deeper
level that we must also give.
What must we give? When we come to receive the Eucharist, we say “Amen”
to the Body of Christ and we promise to become what we receive. We promise to
become the Bread broken for others; We promise to become the Blood poured out
for others; We promise to share our lives with others in the week ahead.
This is a dynamic reality where we renew ourselves every single week. We
come to take and receive, yes. But then we must give also. If we want to retain the
freshness of life from the Waters of Christ, then we are compelled to give to all who
have need. Just like the waters of the Jordan River, that do not distinguish which
plant needs water and which plant does not. It gives to all equally. So, we must too.
What does that look like for us? It might be something as simple as listening
to someone’s story taking that extra minute to wait for them to finish; genuinely
listening and caring; asking how are they doing and waiting for the answer; ex-
tending ourselves beyond the ordinary hello and goodbye; extending ourselves
into people’s lives when they clearly need help and offering to care. We come to
this table, we come to take and to receive.
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