By Father J. Daniel Atkins, Holy Family Catholic Church, New Albany, Indiana
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
There is a story that comes from the Irish lives of the saints about St. Brendan, the Irish sailor-monk. Brendan took the rule of St. Benedict very seriously where it says, “prefer nothing to a trip.” Well, in this story Brendan is sailing with some of his monks. They come to a harbor town and preach the gospel. Some of the people of the place tell Brendan of an island where three holy men live. Brendan decides that he will put out to sea to find this island.
After three days they catch sight of land, and a small spit of land it was. As they near the island three men dress in white come out to the shore to meet them. As luck and the grace of God would have it these are the three holy men. Brendan and his monks are welcomed and for three days they preach the gospel to these heathens. At evening they are baptized with great rejoicing.
The morning of the fourth day Brendan and the monks bid the holy men farewell and sail from the island. On noon of the fifth day out the monk in the crows nest begins to call out. It seems that the three men of the island are walking on the water toward the ship. As they near Brendan gives the command for a boat to be let down to bring them up.
“We are sorry to trouble you said one of the holy men, but there are still some questions we have about the God who is one and three.”
“You know all and enough of the Blessed Trinity,” said Brendan. “You are already living what we preach or you would not be here.”
“May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” Grace, love, and holy fellowship. Isn’t that all we need to know of the Blessed Trinity. We can knock our heads up against the mystery all afternoon and we will never grasp it with our minds. But if we pay attention to what is happening here right now, the truth will reveal itself to us.
The grace of Jesus. That kindness, that generous, free gift of the chance to start life anew. That is happening here. It happens every Sunday. Indeed it happens every morning when open our eyes to a new day. And we live in the second person of the Trinity when we give each other the gift of forgiveness and the chance to start over.
The love of God. The love of a father who never gives up, who stands at the crossroads watching for the prodigal to come home. The love which lifts us up, beaten and broken by misfortune and our foolishness out of the ditch of our misery. The love which binds up our wounds and pays the coin of our ransom from pain. The love of a shepherd who leaves the flock to come out and find us, again and again. This love is here today. And it will be with us tomorrow when we treat people with the same forbearance and patience that the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has shown to us.
The fellowship of the Holy Spirit. I hear visitors to Holy Family say how much they enjoy coming here. How welcome they feel. It is not just because we are nice people that they sense something special here. Sometimes we are not nice; sometimes we are not as welcoming as we could be. What they find here is a love that is wider and deeper and stronger and truer than our human love. That love, that bond is the kinship of the Holy Spirit, which calls us back together when we disagree with each other. That calls us to look for Christ in our differences. A love that keeps us holding hands, so that the weakest and the strongest among us will all get to heaven.
We are here on this small island of time and place. Holy Family, 129 West Daisy Lane, just off 265 in New Albany. We have heard the gospel and we are seeing it with our own eyes. “Something which was from the beginning, is now and ever shall be, this we have touched and held and tasted. For now that is all we need to know about the Blessed Trinity. May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with us all.