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Signs of the cross

by davesandel on June 3rd, 2012

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Trinity Sunday

Matthew 28:16-20

Jesus told his disciples to meet him on a mountain.  When they were all there, he told them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you.  And I will be with you always.”

         Sometimes I get to officiate weddings.  Those are some of the best days of my life.  Recently I suggested to a couple that they make their wedding kiss last awhile so I could read the doxology over them.  “The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.  The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.”

That takes about nine seconds to say.  Which makes for a pretty long kiss.  But the groom decided to swoop his bride, and that made it even longer.  So while they were continuing their kiss, I added the sign of the cross to the blessing.  “In the name of the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen!”

Martin Luther said of the “Amen”: “Never think you are kneeling or standing alone, rather think that the whole of Christendom is standing there beside you and you standing among them in a common, united petition … with them you can say, ‘Very well: God has heard my prayer!  This I know as a certainty and a truth.’  This is what amen means.”

A man and woman in love celebrate the certainty of their Amen! with a long, long kiss.  Jesus claps his hands in joy.  The Father beams.  And the Holy Spirit dances around them, holding them just off the ground.  The holy power of Relationship swept through that wedding – between me and the couple, between their friends and family, between them, between all of us and God.  Invisibly, silently applauding and laughing, there was the whole of Christendom, together with the Trinity, rejoicing in love.

According to Robert Barron during one of his wonderful Catholicism videos, it was Aristotle who said a man and woman don’t so much fall in love with each other, as they fall in love together with a “transcendent third.”  The resulting tri-unity is stronger than death.  In Ecclesiastes, a similar idea is more earthily expressed, “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”

Just like partners do in a marriage, God insists on having all of me.   He swoops me and kisses me on the lips for nine seconds and keeps on kissing.  I learn to kiss him back.  But beyond his love the Maker of heaven and earth has no “need” of me, so He sends me back into the world, transformed, carrying the Kiss.  And all creation sings.  The Trinity is making life again.  Giving us love, again.

The earth is full of your mercy, Lord.  All your works are trustworthy.  Let all of us who dwell in your world show you reverence, for you speak and it comes to be; your plan stands forever.  Your eye is upon us; you deliver our souls from death.  We wait for you, Lord.  You are our help and our shield.  Only in you will our hearts rejoice.  Lord, let your mercy be upon us, let your mercy fall upon us.  (Psalm 33)

* Here is Father Barron talking about this idea in a different context:

Monday, May 28 marked the beginning of “Ordinary Time” in many churches.  This will last until the beginning of Advent.  Thanks for reading these devotions with me and many others; during Ordinary Time I won’t be writing them.  See you again on December 2.  God bless you.


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