Skip to comments.Some Plain Preaching on the Family On the Feast of the Holy Trinity –
Posted on 06/16/2014 2:06:47 AM PDT by markomalley
Every sermon ought to answer three questions: What? So what? and Now what? There is a danger that on the feast of the Holy Trinity we could seek merely to describe the mystery and then sit down. But if so, there still remains the question of what this mystery has to do with me (other than I should think rightly about God). With some effort to apply the mystery to us and issues today, I would like to present a typed version of the second half of my sermon from yesterday. It is my hope to answer the questions So what? and Now what? Here is a typed version. The recorded version can be heard by clicking the video below.
So you may wonder what all this high doctrine has to do with you and your life. Actually it has a lot to do with us.
I. You and I are said to be made in the image and likeness of God. But if God is not all by himself and exists in a communion of three persons, then we ourselves are also called to live that way, since we are made in the image and likeness if God.
You know, every now and again I hear the concept of the self made man Please! Where does such arrogance come from? Did you cause yourself to be born? Who changed your diapers? Who fed you when you didnt even know what food was. Who taught you to read and walk, and talk and paid all your bills for all those years? Who paved the roads you drive on, and built the infrastructure your depend on? And yet some folk walk around like they did all that by themselves. Hmm There is no such thing as the self-made-man. I need you, You need me. Were all part of Gods body.
We are individuals. I am not you and you are not me. But I cannot exist or survive without you. I am made to be in communion with you; and you with me.
And there is something almost trinitarian about us. Ill say of myself:
For you I am your (spiritual) father; with you I am your bother; and from you I am your son.
I have been twenty-five years a priest, but almost twenty of those years I have spent right here with you (my congregation of Holy Comforter). I am the man I am today from you. Youve prayed with me and for me; youve given example, you lifted me up, sung to me, praised God, you taught me. I am every bit your son as I strive to be your (spiritual) father. You formed me. God has created me to be the man I am, but He did it through you. This parish is the most singular and important influence in my life. Yes, for you I am your spiritual father, with you I am your brother, but from you I am your son!
What I have just said to you about myself you have those realities in your life too. You have been father and mother to some, brother and sister to others, son and daughter to others. All these things cycle in our lives and make us who we are. We are called to be in the image and likeness of God. And God is not the Father all by himself. He is a communion of three persons sharing one substance. He is one divinity, one family.
So here is the first so what of the mystery of the Trinity. That we are made in the image of God. We are individuals, but called to live in communion and relationship with one another. The Father is Father because He has a Son. The is Son because he has a Father. Yet each of them, in their individuality keep communion, a communion so deep that it is a person, the Holy Spirit. So too for us, who though individual are meant to live in communion with God and each other, and see our communion bear fruit.
II. There is another so what (or now what) to consider. I want to say that we are currently living in a culture where we have seen our families go into great crisis. And part of the reason for this is that many today talk about individual rights (which do exist). However, the basic unit of society is not the individual. The basic unit of society is the family.
Now think of the family like the atom. What happened in the 1940s when we split the atom? Tremendous destructive forces were set loose which, if they were not controlled lead to utter devastation for miles around.
And so too for us, who though individuals (like the protons, neutrons and electrons of the atom can be distinguished) but we are in the image of God are meant to live together in families. And if our families are being split or are not strong, tremendous destructive forces are set loose in our culture. So here today, on the Feast of the Holy Trinity, I want to say that one of the most urgent needs for us is to pray for and to work for unity in our families.
Now what does that mean for you? I dont know. But maybe it means that there is someone in your family you need to reach out to. Maybe it is a son or daughter who has become distant or alienated. Maybe it means you need to seek marriage counseling or make a marriage encounter weekend. Maybe family counseling is needed. Maybe there is someone you need to forgive, or someone in the family you need to ask forgiveness of. Whatever it means for you today to work for your family unity and strength, that is for you to decide. But do it. Dont delay.
On the Feast of the Holy Trinity, remember the basic unit of society is not the individual; it is the communion of persons we call the traditional family. And weve got to be very serious about working to strengthen our family life.
Weve been through a long period where too many walk away from family problems rather then work to resolve them or learn to live with some of them.
I am old enough to remember a time in this country when divorces were rather difficult to get. Before 1969 divorces were quite rare because they were difficult to get. It often took several years of legal wrangling to get one. It was so difficult, that many flew off to Mexico and lived there a few weeks to get them.
Now there was a reason that divorces were difficult to get. It was part of the wisdom of our culture at that time that if you made a commitment you ought to stick by and be held to it. Believe it or not, people used to think that! And secondly, there was an understanding that children needed stability and intact two parent families. I remember that my parents generation had an expression that even if a marriage was unhappy you ought to stick it out for the sake of the kids. There was a notion that children needed stable families and that they could trust their parents to work out their differences and be there for them, that children needed both a father and mother present to be properly formed. And thus there were all kinds of legal barriers to getting divorced easily.
And thats just the way it was until 1969 when the first no-fault divorce laws began to pass and railroaded through this country (like the Gay non-marriage movement of this period). And thus a divorces would now be easily obtained in a matter of weeks. So divorces skyrocketed. And, as we all know, it was the children who suffered.
Now brethren, I know that life is complicated. I am not here to say that if youre divorced that youre a bad person. You may have tried to save your marriage but could not do so. I am not here to make individual judgments.
But when we look at the divorce rate and the single motherhood (absent fatherhood) rate in our culture, were in trouble. When I was born in 1961, 80% of black children grew up in a two-parent home. Today, only 20% do. And other races are catching up too. This is an American problem.
This isnt good for us, it isnt a sign of health. We are made in the image and likeness of God and we are meant to live in communion. And the fundamental communion for us that comes from God himself is that a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and the two of them become one flesh and that they bear fruit in their children. That is the fundamental unit of society. And without it we wont be strong. A study of anthropology will show that civilizations do not survive when their family structure goes into disarray.
So, be serious about it. Pray and work for unity in your family. I know isnt easy and there may be some nuts falling from your family tree. But listen, every marriage and family has some tensions and problems. And working through these, rather than running from them can ring us strength and wisdom.
I think one of the problems that rules this is that we bring unrealistic expectations to life. We want and think everything should be peachy; we get all upset when things arent comfortable and peachy. And we live in a consumer society that says, You deserve to happy about everything! But brethren, that is not life, that is not accurate. Life is hard and has struggles. But these struggles help to make us stronger.
So if there is some tension in your family maybe God is permitting it to help make you stronger, wiser and more patient and merciful. Yes, there are hardships. But here is the problem: too many people want marriage and family to be ideal, and if there is any ordeal, they want to look for a new deal. And that is not the way life works. Happiness is ultimately an inside job. In this world we are going to have tribulation, but with the Lord we have to learn to be strong and preserve the unity he intends for us. We are made in the image and likeness of God and meant for the communion of the family.
Talk to your kids about this. Prepare them for faithful and lasting marriage. And dont get all hang-dog if you think you cant talk to them about it because you didnt accomplish it or do it perfectly. Just say, Heres the way, Gods way, now walk in it.
III. And the final thing to say, here on Fathers Day, it to say that critical to this problem of the family is a crisis in fatherhood. Too many children are not being raised with their father present. Now that has a lot of effects.
Gods will is that every child should have a father and a mother; not one mother, one father, two fathers, or two mothers; but a father and a mother. Now this makes sense psychologically. We all have one human nature, but there is a feminine and a masculine genius. And my mother taught me about the feminine genius in ways my father could not have. And my father taught me of the masculine genius in way my mother could not. Together they helped form my personality. And when we dont have that, in huge numbers like we do in our culture today, things begin to get out of balance. And thus it is critical to get fathers back with their families.
Now I am not here to make any excuses for men, but I will tell you that in our culture today there is a tendency to ridicule men. For example, there are a huge number of what I would call the men are stupid commercials. The general scenario of them is some goofy man who is clueless about what to do in a situation or how to use a product. And then enters the all-wise and knowing wife or woman who sets him straight. Sometimes the children must also set him straight. But them message or image is that men are stupid, clueless, foolish and are buffoons. The sitcoms also drive this role. The children are the one who are all-wise, cool and clued in, and the parents are out of touch and stupid. The woman or mother is poorly portrayed but looks wise and rational compared to the man who is a total buffoon. And thus the culture presents a picture of men and fathers who are stupid, clownish and often violent, unreasonable and sexual predators.
The men are stupid commercials and sitcoms are in abundance in our culture and they start to affect the way people view men and fathers. None of this helps children to respect their elders and certainly not their fathers. And this has a grave effect on the family and culture. Men are demonized and portrayed as useless, stupid and foolish. And many young men who see a steady diet of this start to imitate and become what they men portrayed to be. So they act bad, they play the fool and are irresponsible.
Again, no excuses here, but this is part of the mix in our culture. And too many of us live unreflectively in this climate and think that just how things are. No that is NOT how things are. Scripture says that the Lord puts a Father in honor over his Children. (Sirach 3:2) Now that means that a father ought to live honorably but it also means that we have no business ridiculing men and making men and fathers seem as buffoons. A mother authority is also confirmed over her children (Ibid). And a lot of this youth culture stuff seeks to undermine the authority and wisdom of parents.
And once again, all this attacks the family. But too often we just go on living unreflectively and unresponsively to these attacks on the dignity of the family and the honor die to fathers and mothers. At some point we have to rise up and say NO, I do not accept the ridiculing attitude and will not let it affect my thinking. And I cannot let it get into my childrens thinking since it affect the way they view adults, it affects they way their understand themselves, it affects the way they grow up and our families are being threatened by this, and it all has to go.
So on this feast of the Holy Trinity I would say to you that family is under attack and being threatened by bad thinking and distorted thinking that is not the mind of God. We need to turn a critical eye to it and rebuke it for the error it is. It is worth staying in the fight, working for unity in our families and rebuking attacks on the dignity of the family, rebuke attacks on men and attempts to demonize them, and seek to foster transitional, biblical marriage. We are made in the image an d likeness of God. We are individuals, to be sure, but we are meant to live in the communion, the communion we call the family. We will not be happy, neither will we flourish or find fulfillment in any other way.
Msgr Pope ping
** there is a tendency to ridicule men. **
I am so tired of the man-bashing.
Maybe we need to send messages to those product advertisers who portray men in a poor (stupid) light.
This was a very powerful and relevant sermon. My Baptist Preacher made the same point about the portrayal of men as idiots.