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Worship

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/06/04 at 12:00 AM

Most Holy Trinity

  • In our first reading we hear the story of Moses atop Mt. Sinai with two stone tablets in hand to receive the 10 Commandments from our Lord for a second time. Begging the Lord’s pardon for the idolatry of the Israelites, Moses bows down to worship.
  • The Book of Exodus records that Moses stayed atop Mt. Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights, worshiping the Lord and conversing with Him. And when Moses finally descended to his people, his skin was radiant: a sign that his worship of God had transformed him.
  • While each of the 10 Commandments is essential and necessary to obey, it’s important to note that the very first command God gave to Moses was the command to worship.
  • Our Lord said, “I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me.” (Ex 20:2-3).
  • And when our blessed Lord came to earth as man, He told His disciples that the first and greatest command is: “to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Mt 22:37).
  • So, from the Father and the Son we learn that what God desires most from us is that we love and worship Him. For indeed, love and worship go hand-in-hand, as our worship of God is simply a natural outgrowth – an expression – of our love for Him.
  • For worship to be true and authentic, it must spring from love. And if we truly love God, we cannot help but worship Him. Man was created for worship, and man will always worship what he loves most. In some respects to love God and to worship Him is the same thing!
  • In fact, it’s been said that worshiping God is simply loving God as He desires to be loved.
  • Worshiping God is supremely relevant for us today as we celebrate the Solemnity of theMost Holy Trinity. In doing so we are celebrating the central tenet of our Christian faith:that not only does God exists, but that He exists as a Trinity of persons.
  • Belief in the Holy Trinity is the central tenet of our faith because it is the mystery of God inHimself, and as such it is the source of all the other mysteries of our faith.
  • To be Christian means to express faith in not just a god, but in a triune God: Father, Son andHoly Spirit, and to enter into relationship with Him by loving and worshiping Him.
  • Through baptism we are called to share in the life of the Blessed Trinity, both here on earthand eternally in Heaven. This begins with our worship, which is a means for us to givethanks to God for the great gift of His divine indwelling within us.
  • Very beautifully, our Responsorial Psalm today reminds us that God is imminently worthy ofour worship. Thus, we must render Him glory and praise forever!
  • But while our worship must always be directed to God, like Moses we are not left unaffectedby it. When we worship God out of genuine love, God in turn transforms us and makes uscapable of loving Him and others to a greater degree.
  • So while authentic worship must spring from love, if our worship is authentic, it will lead usback to love. It will enable us to love God and others more whole-heartedly!
  • Knowing that to love God is the highest command, and that love and worship are sointimately connected, it’s important that we worship well so that we can love God well.
  • For us Catholics the primary way that we worship, of course, is through the Mass. LikeMoses, through the Mass we climb the Lord’s mountain to meet Him. Yet the mount we climb at Mass is not Sinai, but rather Calvary.
  • Here in the Mass Heaven and earth come together as our Lord’s sacrifice atop Calvary is re- presented to us in an unbloody fashion.
  • Just as Moses asked for pardon for his people, we ask for pardon, too, as we pray the Confiteor. Just as our Lord glorified Himself atop Sinai, we glorify and praise our Lord through the Gloria, and then we listen as He speaks to us through the Scriptures.
  • We kneel in adoration before our Lord as He is made present upon the altar: priest and victim. And in an act of sublime intimacy, we receive our Lord into very our selves in Holy Communion, consummating our covenant with Him, just as a bride receives her bridegroom.
  • Because of the supreme importance of what we do here at Mass, it is imperative that we go to great lengths to make the Mass as reverent and dignified as possible, faithfully following the prescriptions of Holy Mother Church that have been passed on to us.
  • For the Mass is not a personal or private action; it is not even a public expression of a given community’s beliefs and customs. Therefore, we should not feel free to change the Mass to reflect our tastes or to make the Mass a platform for cultural expression.
  • To do so is to focus the attention of the Mass on ourselves, and not on God.
  • While the celebration of Mass admits of some cultural expression and allows some choice of options, we must remember that the Mass is about God. Whenever we focus on ourselves inany way at Mass, we sort of miss the point of it all. We become a golden calf!
  • You see, because the Mass is holy, is sacred, and absolutely vital to the salvation of allmankind, only the Church is in the position to legislate how it should be offered. It is HolyMother Church who teaches us how to worship properly…how to love God properly.
  • Over the centuries she has developed and refined all that goes into the offering of Mass, viz.,the prayers, the symbols, the gestures, the music.
  • So when we enter into the Mass, we necessarily step into the great and mighty river ofTradition. That’s why the use of things like Latin, Gregorian chant, polyphony, and evenproper architecture is not unimportant, unnecessary, or arbitrary. They are our tradition!
  • Of course drawing from the rich river of Tradition by using Latin at times rather than the vernacular; using chant rather than catchy, modern melodies; and in general making the Mass more formal and rich requires some effort from all of us.
  • But isn’t it the nature of love to go out of one’s way for the beloved? Do we not want to give to those whom we love the very best that we have to offer? How much more so, then, should we make an extra effort for God so that we may love and worship Him as He desires!
  • Truly, the more faithfully we celebrate the Mass in accord with the Church’s traditions and laws, the better and more pleasing our worship is to God – and the more beneficial it is to us.
  • Yet, we can have all the Latin, incense, and chant possible, but if we are not approaching theMass with true love in our hearts, then it’s all worthless. If we do not come to worship withlove in our hearts, then our worship will not lead us to love. So we must avoid two extremes.
  • On the one hand, we must avoid continually stripping down the Mass to its barest elementsfor the sake of our convenience, as well as introducing any man-centric novelties to theMass. Remember: the Church’s Tradition shows us how to worship.
  • Yet we must also avoid holding to the Church’s traditions so rigidly that we become like thePharisees, who were more concerned with their laws and rituals rather than truly loving God.Our rich rituals must be an expression of our deep love for God!
  • My brothers and sisters, “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so thateveryone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

• May we return our Lord’s love by worshiping Him “in spirit and in truth.” May our faithful worship of our Lord lead us to loving Him and each other more authentically. Like Moses, may each of us be transformed by our worship of our triune Lord!

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

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