TRINITY SUNDAY 2018
Deaconate ordinations in Maynooth
Homily notes of Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin
Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, 27th May 2018
“Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Blessed Trinity. It is one of the central feasts in the life of the Church.
We all know something of the Blessed Trinity. We make the sign of the Cross in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In the liturgy, our prayers are made through the Trinity. Most of us, however, probably would not place devotion to the Blessed Trinity at the centre of our personal devotion.
Why do I say that the Feast of the Blessed Trinity is so central? The Feast of the Blessed Trinity is central to the Christian faith because it is the Feast on which we reflect on the nature of God, on who God is.
The God who was revealed to us in Jesus Christ is not a God closed within a distant, harsh or disinterested solitude. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit live in a relationship with each other. It is not a closed relationship: it is a relationship marked by the drive of God to communicate, to reveal himself and to reach out to us in love.
“God is love”. God’s relationship with humankind is a relationship that reaches out to us, invites us, supports us and sustains us in love. The Christian life is the unfolding in this world of the love of God, out of which we were created and towards which our eternal destiny is oriented.
Where does God communicate with us? God is revealed first of all in creation. Creation is the fruit of and the expression of God’s love and must be maintained in its integrity in a spirit of love. Within that creation, God reveals himself in a special way in the creation of humankind. We are created in God’s image. We are created in love and therefore we realise our humanity through responding to God in love. Our call as Christians is always a call to love and a call to establish relationships of love within the human family.
However, the greatest revelation of God’s love comes to us in Jesus. Jesus, the Christ, is the definitive revelation of God’s love; he shows us truly what God’s love is like. Jesus came to give himself out of love and he reveals his love in the most radical manner by giving his life for us so that we can pass from our sinfulness into new life. The only way in which we can live as true disciples of Jesus is to respond to him in love and to create a climate of love wherever we may be.
The Gospel that is proposed to us today reminds us that the mission of the disciples of Jesus is to bring the truth about the God of love to all nations, so that the mystery Jesus’ love is prolonged in the world through the faith and the life and the witness of the Christian community.
There is then a curious phrase in today’s Gospel. It says that “some of them doubted”. Even at this final moment, some of the disciples still found it difficult to understand that Jesus was truly divine. The question arises then: why would Jesus entrust the mission of bringing his message to all people and all generations to such a weak community, formed of those who were unfaithful and whose faith was still very fragile?
The Church is never just the Church of the perfect. God’s love heals and converts us in our weakness. That is, however, very different from saying that we can acquiesce in the presence of evil in the midst of the Church. The power and the mandate received by ministers and disciples of Jesus can only be authorised by Jesus himself and must always be carried out in the manner revealed by Jesus.
Today through the laying on of hands and the prayer of consecration, we ordain four new deacons for service in the Church. The ministry of the deacon is a ministry of service. A ministry of service is not simply about doing things. It is about becoming identified in one’s entire being with Jesus who serves.
The liturgical rite will remind you that being a herald of the Gospel of Christ means that you “believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach”. The ministry of the deacon must be a ministry of integrity and not of compromise.
The work of spreading the Gospel can only be carried out by those who reject worldly power and ambition. Those called to evangelize must be ministers of Jesus and his love and that alone; otherwise they witness only to themselves, their ambitions, their passions, their harshness and nastiness, their pettiness, their greed, and they become ministers of evil rather than of Jesus Christ.
In inward-looking Church slips inevitably into becoming a self-centred contented, safe, comfort-zone for the likeminded. It becomes a sign of fear rather than courage. An inward looking Church – or indeed an inward looking seminary – becomes a sign of the lack of the Spirit. It was the Spirit who gave the early Christians the courage to overcome their fears and anxieties and go out helped by the Spirit to speak of Jesus in a language that everyone could grasp.
Does the Church speak today in the language of today? As deacons, you will be called to serve and bring the Gospel message to a culture that finds that message less and less relevant in their lives or a culture that tends to define its own understanding of what that message is.
You can only be witnesses to Jesus if you allow Jesus to come to your aid in your weakness, through rejecting the arrogance of power and in humility to allow yourselves to be healed by Jesus. An inward looking self-serving Church becomes an arrogant Church.
The challenge of witnessing to Jesus Christ in today’s world is not an easy one. Many will see the results of Friday’s referendum as an indication that the Catholic Church in Ireland is regarded today by many with indifference and has having a marginal role in the formation of Irish culture. The Church that is called to make present the Jesus who is full of mercy and compassion is seen by many as somehow weak in compassion.
The Church in its beginnings had its distinctive characteristics as we read in the Acts of the Apostles. It was marked by harmony, by prayerfulness, by generosity and care. The Acts of the Apostles note that the new Christian community was then held in high regard by all and grew in believers day by day.
Harmony, prayerfulness, generosity and care must be the marks of those who preach the word of God. The Irish Church after the Referendum must renew its commitment to support life. The Church is called to be pro-life however not just in words and statements and manifestoes but to be pro-life in deeds, by being a Church which reflects the loving care of Jesus for human life at any stage. That loving care includes support to help those women who face enormous challenges and who grapple with very difficult decisions to choose life.
Pro-life means being alongside those whose lives are threatened by violence, and being alongside those who cannot live life to the full because of economic deprivation, homelessness and marginalization. Pro-life means radically rediscovering in all our lives a special love for the poor that is the mark of the followers of Jesus. Reshaping the Church of tomorrow must be marked by a radical rediscovery of its roots.
For the priests of the future this rediscovery begins in formation. Houses of formation must be marked by the same sense of harmony, prayerfulness, generosity and care. Divisiveness and narcissism are never the signs of the Spirit.
The Gospel of Matthew ends as it began with the announcement of Emmanuel, God with us. “God with us”: to invite us to share in his life and to reflect his life in the world. That life, as we recalled is the life of the Blessed Trinity, not the life of a harsh, isolated God, but the God of Jesus Christ, the one through whom we encounter the “tender loving-kindness of our God”. The harshness of our world needs that message. The ministers of the Church must imbibe and uncompromisingly reflect that loving-kindness in their lives.
May the Lord who has begun the good work in you continue to bless you in your new ministry.”