A Community in God
In our last two Gospel readings for both Ascension and Pentecost Sundays, we saw the common themes of evangelization; the Lord called the disciples to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the former, and to receive the Holy Spirit to forgive sins or to proclaim the truth of God–depending on which Gospel you read–for the latter. And even in the daily Mass readings in the last two weeks, we have seen a common theme of community life, particularly in the Letter of St. James. You might think we’re finally catching a break this week in celebrating the Most Holy Trinity….and you’d be wrong.
In the first reading from Deuteronomy, Moses calls the people to follow the commandments of the Lord so that they may live prosperous lives forever in the land God gave them. The Gospel is yet another commission message from Jesus to the disciples, just like we heard on Ascension Sunday. Even the Psalm tells us that the Lord has chosen us to be his own people. (Don’t worry, I’ll get to the second reading later!) Why is community so important? Why is evangelization so important? The answer, I think, comes from us answering these questions in this specific order.
Importance of Community
Community is important because God Himself is a community. Today, we celebrate the Most Holy Trinity–the unique distinction yet union of the Three Persons of the one Godhead. Since He is Three People, God kind of makes a community. Terrible analogy, but think of three roommates being stuck together since the dawn of time; if living with your college roommate was bad enough, this must be a nightmare! Yet, God shows us, through Himself, that the secret to living together is charity. Remember: God is love. In this loving community, we can find an unfathomable unity, which St. Athanasius says is “self-consistent and undivided in its active power.”
Even more, God is not a diverse community of created and creator; each Member is equal and works in cooperation with the Others. God is the dream team: As St. Athanasius further says,
Accordingly, in the Church, one God is preached, one God who is above all things and through all things and in all things (cf. Eph 4:6). God is above all things as Father, for he is principle and source; he is through all things through the Word; and he is in all things in the Holy Spirit. (source: First Letter to Serapion)
Because of this, God is also a package deal, which is why St. Paul always blesses his audience with each Person of the Trinity (see 2 Cor 13:14). God accomplishes so much together, and I think He constantly tries to show us that we can accomplish a lot too if we could just be in community with Him and each other. If you’ve ever volunteered at all at your local parish, then you know just how much work can be done together; I hope you also know the joy of working with your fellow Christians for your fellow man. Most importantly, God has given us His Spirit so that, as St. Paul tells us in the second reading from Romans, we can call God “Abba.” Daddy. How awesome is God our Creator that we mere creatures can call Him, “Dad?” Combining these two together–the joy of community service and the joy of calling God “Dad”–there is much joy to spread! Which leads to why evangelization is important.
You Already Know Why Evangelization is Important
Look, let’s be honest here: You’ve heard for the last two Sundays why evangelization is important; Pope Francis is always telling us about evangelization; even the evangelicals can tell you why evangelization is important. A 22-year-old doesn’t need to say what’s already been said here, except to add this: If we are truly joyful, why wouldn’t we want to share it?
Today (Saturday, May 26) in daily Mass, the Gospel reading was about Jesus telling the disciples to let the children come to him, and the priest said in his homily, “We need to be child-like–not childish, child-like.” Basically, remember when we were kids, and something good happened to us, and we told everyone all about that good thing? Yeah, that’s what we’re called to do here this week. We want everyone to be able to call their Creator “Daddy”; we want everyone to be able to share the joy we feel; and we want everyone to join us in cooperating with each other, especially in helping the most marginalized of us. Most importantly, we want everyone to join us with God’s help. Because if “teamwork makes the dream work” and “all things are possible with God” are combined, imagine the force we would leave in our wake. We’d be like those people in the picture above: One person can’t form the picture; we are all needed to form the picture, stragglers and all. And the picture is one of love.
Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you. (Psalm 33)