Trinity Sunday 11 June 2017
Our Care for the Father’s Creation
Last week when our students from the Parish of the Visitation and St. Raymond gathered for their First Communion retreat they made Trinity biscuits. Let me explain: For each biscuit they rolled three balls of dough and placed them together in the baking pan. When they came out, each biscuit had three distinct parts. What a good reminder of the Trinity: One biscuit with three parts. One God and Three Persons.
I hope our children remember! That image is not far from what St. Patrick taught the Irish people when he showed them the shamrock: three leaves but always in fundamental unity in each shamrock. Even the pretzels you buy at the mall show the same lesson: three distinct parts but one pretzel. That’s a memory tool used for centuries.
On this Trinity Sunday we remember that we worship One God! That God has revealed himself to us as three divine persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Throughout Easter we have lauded the second person, Jesus, who died, rose, and ascended for you and for me. Last Sunday our observance was all about the third, the Spirit. Looking back, can you see how the Spirit has moved and shaped you in the big events of life, and the small?
What do you know about the Father? Check out the creed to begin: I believe in God the Father Almighty Creator of heaven and earth. It is the Father who created all things when all came to be. He is still among us, willing our existence, creating anew, continuing to generate the soul of each newborn person, giving human life precious as that is.
But we also share a dynamic and critical role in God’s creation. In the first chapter of the Book of Genesis we are told that God created male and female in his own image. He instructed them: Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth. An interesting command, “Have dominion!” Unlimited use of creation just as we please? In his encyclical letter Laudato Si’ Pope Francis responds with a forceful “NO!” Listen:
Although it is true that we Christians have at times incorrectly interpreted the Scriptures, nowadays we must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures. We are instructed to till and keep the garden. To quote again: “Tilling” refers to cultivating, ploughing or working, while “keeping” means caring, protecting, overseeing and preserving….Each community can take from the bounty of the earth whatever it needs for subsistence, but it also has the duty to protect the earth and to ensure its fruitfulness for coming generations. Clearly Pope Francis is instructing us that our use of the goods of creation must be cautious and respectful, reflecting the truth that all is ultimately God’s and meant to be shared with humanity, future as well as present.
Our Holy Father has also charged us to look beyond the limited and sometimes narrow perspective of our own needs and to work together in communities and among nations to safeguard the goods of creation. Interdependence obliges us to think of one world with a common plan. Yet the same ingenuity which has brought about enormous technological progress has so far proved incapable of finding effective ways of dealing with grave environmental and social problems worldwide. A global consensus is essential for confronting the deeper problems, which cannot be resolved by unilateral actions…
There is pointed and partisan public discussion today about the commitment of our country to preservation of the earth’s atmosphere. The actual steps to accomplish the good are not for the Church to determine. That is not our place or our roll. But as Catholics we must all remember that which flows from our beliefs: that creation ultimately remains the Father’s. He has given us dominion, but not the right to unbridled selfish use. Pope Francis has pointed to the need to confront substantial international issues like care of the environment through cooperation among the nations of the world. He is strong in that conviction!
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. I pray that my use of the goods of the earth and ours may be in keeping with God’s plan for creation and for us all. Listening to the teachings of the Church always helps guide us in that way. May we be blessed in that pursuit: In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Msgr. John R. Murphy
Visitation Rectory, Norfolk, NY