Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


Solemnity of Most Holy Trnity Sunday
Fr. Joseph Palermo
June 15th, 2014
Year A

In the world of Professional Football (the NFL), some teams have nicknames which convey a sense of power and strength (Lions, Panthers, Jaguars, Seahawks and even Falcons kill and eat their prey); some NFL teams have nicknames which convey a sense of fierceness (Redskins, Buccaneers, Raiders and Vikings are warriors); some teams have names which connect them to their area (Packers, Steelers, Patriots and Dolphins).  And then there is New Orleans.  We had to be different.  We didn’t name our team for a predatory animal or a fierce warrior or something unique to our region.  Oh no, we named our team for Life’s Ultimate Victors:  people who, when they die, go to be with God forever in heaven:  THE SAINTS.  And what do we have as our team symbol:  not a roaring lion or an angry Viking or a fighting Patriot.  We have a flower, a fleur-de-lis, a lily with 3 petals which symbolize God, i.e. the Most Blessed Trinity.  We don’t want only earthly victories in New Orleans; we want heavenly victory!

Today the Church celebrates Trinity Sunday, a day to praise the Most Blessed Trinity and reflect about the inner life of God.  Today we celebrate the great mystery that there is one God, but three distinct persons of God:  Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  We do not know this from reasoning, but from revelation and faith.  The Scriptures reveal the Trinity and so did Jesus.  Jesus spoke about his Father, prayed to his Father, and taught his disciples to pray the “Our Father.”  Jesus spoke about the Holy Spirit, prepared his disciples for the Spirit’s coming, and then, after his resurrection, breathed the Spirit on them.  In today’s reading from 2nd Corinthians, St. Paul speaks of the Trinity when he writes, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”  (We repeat that greeting at mass.)   So we know God is Trinitarian in his being by God’s revelation and faith.  How God can be three persons in one God is a mystery greater than human minds can comprehend (we’re reduced to pointing to lilies), but the reality of the Trinity is critical in telling us that God by his nature is all about love.

The Catholic Catechism says this about the Trinity:  “By sending his only Son and Spirit of love in the fullness of time, God has revealed his innermost secret:  God himself is an eternal exchange of love, and the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have destined us to share in that exchange of love.”  (Cat. Para 221)  The Father loves the Son from all time, the Son loves the Father from all time, and the Holy Spirit is the Eternal, timeless Love between the Father and the Son, and God has planted that Trinitarian relationship and love in us.

Some years ago the singer Bette Midler had a hit song, “From a Distance”:  “God is watching us . . . from a distance.”  It was a catchy tune, and surprising for a pop song to talk about God, but it had a terrible theology.  The song envisioned God as impersonal, detached, and uninvolved with creation:  God got creation going, then backed off and sat down on the sidelines, happy to observe things from afar.  That is not the God of Jesus Christ.  Jesus revealed a God who put on human skin and became fully like us in every way except sin.  Our God isn’t distant but very close, very personal, very much alive and active in our world, constantly loving us and delighting in us.  Indeed God the Father loves us so much that He created us in the divine image (the complete Trinity dwells in us) and sent his only Son to redeem us; God the Son loves us so much that he gave his life on the cross for us; and God the Holy Spirit loves us so much that he continually pours on us all the spiritual gifts we need for a good and holy life.

The bottom line is this: God is deeply in love with us and has chosen to live in us.  That’s why we desire to love and be loved; that’s why we are concerned for one another and care about one another; loving like the Trinity loves is our life’s call and mission.  The Solemnity of the Blessed Trinity is a day to rejoice and glorify our awesome God of love.

Before I conclude, please permit me to speak about God’s amazing love on a personal note for a few moments.  Almost 30 years ago, I was a practicing attorney with some level of worldly success:   I had a good job, nice house and car, rental property and many possessions.  But I was not happy or fulfilled.  Regrettably I had become weak in the practice of my Catholic faith.  The Trinity was in me but I wouldn’t allow the Trinity to be an active part of my life.  By God’s graciousness, God reawakened my faith.  God romanced me and led me to a church parish which was vibrant and filled with loving people and priests.  Over the course of a few years, I became very active in my parish church and made a commitment to daily prayer and mass; and my faith flourished.  And then, to my utter astonishment, I heard a call to priesthood.  I thought I was hallucinating.  I was sure I was too old for priesthood and I knew I was unworthy, but the Church accepted me.  I entered seminary after practicing law for 12 years; and after 5 years in seminary, the Church ordained me a priest of Jesus Christ in June of 1994.

The past 20 years of priesthood have been grace-filled, rewarding and challenging.  My prayer life and faith and relationship with God have deepened greatly.  I have served in ways I never could have imagined.  To be a Minister of Word and Sacraments remains a most incredible gift.  And best of all, God has allowed me to experience his Trinitarian love in the people he has put in my life:  family, friends, brother priests, religious, parishioners, and good people of God everywhere.

I don’t know how much time I have left in priesthood or life (which is partly why I’m celebrating 20 years of priesthood and not waiting for 25), but I am so grateful to God for this vocation.  I am an imperfect man (I still hate to lose at cards) but I am called to become a Saint, and by God’s grace, to stand in ultimate victory in the end.  I give thanks to the Most Blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for giving me the gifts of love, faith, priesthood and the blessing of each of you.  May we all strive to live the love of the Trinity implanted in us, and may we one day become God’s Holy Saints!





Fr. Joseph Palermo is a priest for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Louisiana.
He serves serves as spiritual director at Notre Dame Seminary and spiritual advisor for the St. Thomas More Catholic Lawyers Association.




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