Tag Archives: Trinity

Inclusion (Part 1 of 3)

June 4, 2012

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I want to be noticed!

The Catholic understanding of the Trinity is all about inclusion.  The Father loves the Son.  The Holy Spirit is that love and through that love we all belong. I am not very good about the math part of the Trinity.  The whole 1+1+1=1 thing is confusing to me but I do like to focus on the idea that I get to be included!  I read once that when we make the sign of the cross – we are placing ourselves into that Holy Trinity – we are asking to be included.   Inclusion is part of our faith and should be how we strive to live the way Christ has taught us.

Inclusion is a frequent topic in the area of disability outreach.   Deacon Sean Curtain, director of outreach for people with disabilities in the Archdiocese, recently  relayed to me three very important wants that he sees in all people, not just those with disabilities. All of these “wants” have to do with inclusion. One definition of inclusion is a sense of belonging: feeling respected, valued for who you are; feeling a level of supportive energy and commitment from others.  In homilies on inclusion he says, “We all walk around carrying three signs.

I want to be noticed,

I want to be heard,

I want to be loved.”

It is sad to see how often these very basic needs are not met in our day to day actions of our work, in our parishes and even in our families.

This is the first of  a three part blog where I hope to expand on this lesson of inclusion.

 

I want to be noticed! 

Our young people, and not so young people, have found creative ways of getting noticed.  Sometimes it is by hair and clothing style, other times it is through social media like facebook and twitter. The sad thing about the “virtual” experience of getting notice through social media is that it lacks a true human interaction.   From our earliest beginnings we strive for ways to be noticed.  Babies cry to get noticed and the terrible twos are a perfect example of some of those not so perfect ways of getting attention.  As we grow,  we learn to be noticed for our achievements of knowledge or ability.  Hopefully we come to realize that God’s love for us isn’t dependent on our achievements. God sees us. He sees us even when we are not at our best.  He loves us anyway!

It is through Christ’s example that we need to learn the importance of acknowledging and affirming others – of seeing them. I don’t believe I have ever read in any of the gospels that when someone turned to Christ – he ignored them. Imagine Jesus turning to someone and saying, ” I am just too busy right now, why don’t you take that up with Andrew.”

I love the story of Zacchaeus.  He even climbs a tree to get Jesus’ attention.

Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house. “And he came down quickly and received him with joy. (Luke 19: 2-6)

What I love even more than Zacchaeus’ persistence in getting noticed – is Christ’s reaction.  “He received him with joy!”

How many times have we found ourselves ignoring the child pulling on our pant leg, avoiding answering an e-mail or failing to “pick up” when someone calls.   Like Christ – when someone is persistent in getting our attention – it is because they have that same desire – I want to be noticed!

Some people can be annoying – I imagine that short, pushy, greedy Zacchaeus was no exception. We all know a pushy “church lady”or a needy relative. But Christ didn’t ignore Zacchaeus. Instead He received him with joy and because of Christ’s acknowledgment – of seeing Zacchaeus – his life was changed forever.

Christ also noticed those who didn’t stand out or work to get noticed.

Sometimes this very simple phrase gets missed as we read of the story of the man born blind.

As he passed by he saw a man blind from birth. (John 9:1)

The man did nothing to get his attention, but Jesus noticed him.  He didn’t just pass by, he noticed that someone needed help.  Almost every day, I drive by someone situated near the freeway exit with a sign that says they are homeless.  My first reaction is to avert my eyes.  I don’t want to see them – it reminds me of the debt I owe.  The debt I owe to God and all His people for the wonderful gifts I have received.  If I don’t see people in need – I won’t feel that guilt.  Even short of seeing someone who is homeless – I avert my eyes or avoid others who may be needy.  At various times, friends and family (and myself) have gone through a crisis and need more attention.  Have I taken the time to see their need  or is helping them just not on my agenda?

Sometimes that debt we owe is more personal.  I remember a time when I let down a friend who needed my help, when I would see her it reminded me of my own failings and I found I would avoid her to avoid feeling my own inadequacies.  I am learning to be more straightforward now and deal directly when I fail others by asking for forgiveness. This repairs the discord in my relationships and I start “seeing” them once again.

Jesus even saw people most of us would like to avoid.  On hearing about Jesus – Nathaniel insulted him by saying “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” If I someone was that hostile to me, I think I would tend to avoid them, but instead Jesus complements Nathaniel.

“Jesus saw Nathaniel coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, there is no duplicity on him.”  John 1:47.

How much better would our interactions be if, when we are insulted by someone, we truly see them (see their pain and their need) and throw them a complement?  The result is that hearts would be softened toward us and turned toward Christ.

Ultimately, we know that our inclusion is with God, but it is our job to be Christ for each other.

Here is a challenge for this week:  Take the time to really see a friend, a coworker, child,  or elderly person.   Reflect on inclusion and if you are responding in a Christ -like manner.  Are your work, church, and family structures set up to be inclusive to all?

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Saint Patrick, The Shamrock, and The Trinity

March 16, 2011

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St. Patrick at St. Nicholas in Belle River

The shamrock is a symbol both for the Holy Trinity and St. Patrick (389-461). The shamrock is a clover plant with a yellow flower and leaflets made up of a stem with three small green leaves. The plant is very common and widely distributed throughout Ireland.

St. Patrick was a zealous missionary to the Irish, a people who upon his arrival in 432 had heard little or nothing of Jesus and his gospel. St. Patrick was an energetic traveler, a determined evangelizer, and a courageous preacher, and as he canvassed the countryside he was assailed by bitter opponents who threatened his life and undermined his message, but undeterred, he made hundreds and thousands of converts.

Whether St. Patrick was speaking to local pagans who knew nothing of the Christian faith, or to neophytes, newly-baptized disciples who were not well-grounded in the truths of the faith, he was faced with the daunting task of explaining profound mysteries such as the Trinity which are so difficult to understand.

There are several popular legends about how St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the mystery of the Trinity. According to one story, St. Patrick went to Connaught where he met two of King Laoghaire’s daughters, Ethne and Fedelm. St. Patrick had been unable to persuade the king to convert, but he convinced the king’s daughters. During their time of instruction St. Patrick used a shamrock to visualize the mystery of the Trinity, how a single plant with three leaves is analogous to the one Triune God with three separate and distinct Persons (Thurston, H. J., ed., Butler’s Lives of the Saints, Vol. 1, 615).

According to another legend, St. Patrick used a shamrock to help explain the Trinity in a sermon he preached directly to King Laoghaire.

According to a third legend, St. Patrick was traveling and happened upon a number of Irish chieftains along a meadow. The tribal leaders were curious about the Trinity and asked St. Patrick for an explanation. So he bent down, picked a shamrock, and showed it to them, and explained how the three leaves are part of the one plant, and how similarly the three Persons, Father, Son, and Spirit, are part of one Supreme Being.

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