June 04, 2023
Earlier this week, while walking, I noticed a message written in chalk on the parking lot. It reads: “I love Jesus and God.” Next to the name “Jesus” is an emoji – a heart. The writer signs the message, “Love,” -- and prints his name. I recognized the boy’s name. I baptized him and he made his First Holy Communion in April. I am touched by his childlike simplicity and faithfulness expressing love for God. Love is key in saying anything about God. Today at Mass, we hear the famous saying in the Gospel according to John chapter 3 verse 16, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” Do we get it? It is awesome. God loves us!
We, human beings, cannot come up with the insight or concept that God loves us unless God reveals that to us, and we experience that divine love. In the first Letter of John, we read, “God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them” (1 John 4;16). And we also read, “But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8).
Today is the feast of the Most Holy Trinity – a mystery simply expressed as we make the sign of the cross, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” St. Paul concludes his Letter to the Corinthians, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you” (1 Corinthians 13:13).
There is only one God. We must preserve the oneness of God. But within the oneness/unity of God, there is relationship or community of Persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Our belief in the Blessed Trinity is grounded in the New Testament and finds more precise explanation in the early Ecumenical Councils of the Church. In both the Old and New Testaments in the Bible we learn something about the mystery of God. God creates. God redeems. God sanctifies.
There is power in the name of God. In our first reading, Book of Exodus, Moses encounters God on Mount Sinai. “Having come down in a cloud, the Lord stands with Moses and proclaims his name, Lord.” “Lord” in Hebrew means, “I am who I am.” By the time of Jesus, the name “Yahweh” is not used by the average Jewish person in any setting. It is so filled with sacred power that the name is spoken aloud only once a year. On the Day of Atonement, Yum Kippur, inside the Temple within the sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, the High Priest would invoke the name of the Lord and sprinkle blood upon the Mercy Seat of God to atone for sins.
I compare such respect for the name of God in the Bible to our use of God’s name. How often do we use God’s name and the name of Jesus, in vain, in anger, in frustration, even in damning and condemning another person? What a sacrilegious misuse of God’s name and the name of Jesus. We should follow the example of the child drawing in chalk in the church parking lot. Let us strive to use the sacred name of God and the name of Jesus with awe, reverence and humility as we express our love of God and our love of neighbor.