“And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Matt 28:16-20.
Matthew’s gospel ends with a bold command to go into the whole world, teaching, baptizing, and reminding us that he always is with us. Curiously, this gospel begins with a long genealogy that describes how Jesus was called into being and named Emmanuel or “God with us.”
God is with us, and we are part of and share life with all creation – his work and his love. Today we celebrate this mystery of the Trinity. Two ideas come to my mind.
First, “Loved into being,” the very idea of the Trinity.
Back in 1997, Fred Rogers, of PBS TV fame, received his well deserved “life achievement” Emmy award at one of the long-winded Hollywood celebrity shows.
Tim Robbins, the actor, introduced Rogers by telling the audience that Fred made children more confident, he was their friend, and that “children are special and have worth.” Well, so did Jesus, come to think of it. “Each morning,” Robbins went on to say, “Fred Rogers’ brightened our lives with his kindness.”
Rogers came up to the stage and accepted the award with his customary humility and thanked so many who had touched his life, those members of his family, staff, those alive and those in God’s hands.
Then, Rogers asked the audience to take ten seconds in silence and think about “those special ones in our lives who have loved us into being.” Think about those who have cared for us; and wanted what was best for us. How pleased they must be that they have made a difference in our life.
“Take ten seconds,” he said, “and I’ll watch the time.”
After that moment of silence, he simply thanked everyone in the television audience for “encouraging me and allowing me to be your neighbor.” He left the stage to great applauds.
His simple yet profound statement of gratitude about those “special ones” in our lives who have “called us into being” speaks of God as Father, Son, and Spirit. The Trinity that we celebrate today, such a sacred mystery, has called us into being.
God has loved us, his son shares our humanity, and a spirit inspires us still.
Let’s consider a second point about Pope Francis highly anticipated new encyclical, with the title “Laudato Sii,” or “Be Praised, On the Care of Our Common Home.” This pastoral letter should be issued sometime in June. The title comes from Saint Francis’s “Canticle of the Sun,” a prayer that praises God, first by thanking God for “Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Brother Fire, and Sister Water.”
Here Pope Francis will move Catholic theology to consider not only “human ecology” but also, and here’s a new term, “integral ecology. “This is how we as humans celebrate all that we have been given and are part of – in creation itself.
Of course, many Catholics will wonder why the pope is getting into issues of climate change and global warming. It’s important to know that our ecological concerns for the welfare of the planet flow for our theology.
According to theologian Walter Grazer, “Catholics see the Trinity as relational and social. And all of creation and life reflect this relational and social notion, so all creatures are intimately linked and share a kinship.”
Now, this does not mean a diminishing of our unique and special role as humans, but rather a call for even greater respect, deeper intimacy with nature, and a genuine connection to a wholesome ecology.
Written in 1224, Saint Francis’s “Canticle of the Sun” is recognized as one of the first published literary works in the Umbrian dialect.
Saint Francis prays:
Be praised my Lord, through all your creatures, especially Brother Sun who brings day and gives light. He is beautiful and radiant.
Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Water, especially she is very useful, and precious and pure.
Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon, Brother Fire and Mother Earth.
Be praised, those who forgive – for love of you.
Happy those who endure in peace, for by you Most High,
They will be crowded.
San Carlos Cathedral, Monterey, CA.