Homily – 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

I was away this past Sunday and Pastor Dick Dahl stood in for me–here is his homily.  Enjoy!

Instead of expanding on the three readings we have just heard, this homily is based on the larger message spoken to us from the beginning of time which has often been distorted so that we have often not heard it or been transformed by it.

To make a major shift from our familiar way of thinking to a transformation of our worldview is a paradigm shift. It is rare in both science and religion, but when evidence is overwhelming for it, one is blind not to make it.

This homily is based on Jesus’ words but may seem  like a paradigm shift from the way we have been taught about them. It is based, some of it word for word, from Father Richard Rohr and his recent book “The Divine Dance.”

Most Christians and Catholics say they believe in God as Trinity, but the word has little meaning for many, if not most. The message has seemed to be, “Don’t worry about it. It’s a mystery and you can’t understand it anyway.”  In fact, for some, God is often emotionally related to as an unchanging monarch living remotely some place else.  The Holy Spirit is so ephemeral as to be for all intents and purposes non-existent. Thank God for Jesus! We hold on to him. But many think he came to save us from God the Father who required  Jesus to suffer an excruciating and humiliating death in order for us to be “saved.”

How did we come to think of God as the Eternal Threatener? This is not the Father Jesus loved, the Father Jesus called Abba, Daddy, the one he told us to call our Father. God is not an object in the sky or elsewhere. God is the Life Energy who flows into the Son and through the Spirit,  in a self-giving, creative love—a trinitarian dance of love that flows through everything, without exception, and has done so since the beginning. Thus, everything is holy—from subatomic particles to remote galaxies, from people around the world to those of us in this room. God saw what he created and saw that it is good.

In one word, Relationship is the deepest characteristic of God. A Trinitarian relationship embracing all of us. The very nature of Being is relationship, is love. The very shape of Being is first of all communion. Inside that love we were created.  Every time we inhale, the Spirit  immerses us in the flow of the Father’s love for the Son and for us, and vice versa. Connection is why we are here…is what gives meaning and purpose to our lives.

If we understand the Trinity as the basic template of reality, our minds will slowly transition from the concept of a pyramid or triangle with God remotely on top,  to a circle with all of us together, which utterly changes our consciousness. Although a circle is a metaphor, it is a better image of our relationship with Father, Son and Spirit and each other. People hold hands and dance in a circle. Father Richard Rohr calls it the “Divine Dance.”

The implications of this understanding of God as all-embracing Trinity are enormous: For example, God’s love is never determined by the worthiness or unworthiness of the object. God loves each of us (and everyone else in the world) not because we are good, but because God is good. That love makes us exist and be worthy. We repeatedly fall into the illusion that we must earn God’s love, that we can be in control of God by being a good boy or girl, man or woman. In true fact, we are all already united to God in this universal dance and flow of love, but only some of us know it. Most of us doubt and deny it. It’s just too good to be true. It’s the Good News, Grace, unmerited acceptance. We are already loved, like the prodigal son who acted like a self-centered jerk, but who was always loved without limit by his father. That’s how we are loved, no matter how hard it is for us to believe it and accept it.

So when we get caught up in what Father Rohr calls “worthiness games” or “achievement rewards,” we become dis-eased. We cannot imagine a love that is not evoked by the worthiness of the object. We lack the ease that comes from accepting in surrender to an all-embracing love. No amount of effort will make God love you any more than God loves you right now.

The flow of Trinitarian love doesn’t have to do with you or me being perfect. It doesn’t have to do with our being right. It is never about our belonging to the right group. We don’t have to understand this. How can we? When Jesus met the man who was blind from birth, he didn’t ask him what he believed or how good he was. He just asked the man, “Are you willing to let me touch you? Do you want to be healed?”

You are precisely the gift God wants, as you are right now—in full and humble surrender. We learn so much more by our mistakes than our successes. Sin is not a way we hurt or anger God. Sin is a way we hurt ourselves despite the ongoing embrace of the Trinity. All the time, however, we have been “in Christ.” As Carl McColman wrote, “Because we are in Christ, we see the joyful love of the Father through the eyes of the Son and with every breath, we breathe the Holy Spirit.” Our humanity is just a matter of allowing and loving the divine flow, which Christians usually call the Holy Spirit. What finally motivates one in the spiritual life is gratitude, never fear. The end of history is a banquet to which all are invited.

Father Rohr ends his book with this prayer:

God for us, we call you Father.

God alongside us, we call you Jesus.

God within us, we call you Holy Spirit.

You are the eternal mystery that enables, enfolds and enlivens all things,

Even us, even me.

Every name falls short of your goodness and greatness.

We can only see who you are in what is.

We ask for such perfect seeing—

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.

So be it.