Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv DD STL, Bishop of Parramatta
Homily for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity at St Madeleine Sophie Barat Parish, Kenthurst
Readings: Exodus 34:4-9; 2Cor 13:11-13; John 3:16-18
7 June 2020
Holy Trinity 2020
Dear sisters and brothers,
What a week it has been in the world! The pandemic had exposed the systemic inequality and disadvantage in many societies, including the so-called First World countries. Minority groups generally had suffered more from the coronavirus crisis. Underneath the surface, there was simmering tension. Then the image of the horrible killing of a black man at the hands of the police was like the straw that broke the camel’s back. It sparked one of the biggest and longest street protests in America in recent memory.
We Australians might pity people over there for their predicament. We might feel good about ourselves because we happen to live in the lucky country. We heard this sentence said publicly, “We are not like them”. But as has been pointed out by Indigenous leaders and advocates, we have no reason to feel smug watching the pandemonium playing out on the streets of the USA. Why? Because on so many measures, such as the rates of disadvantage, juvenile detention, death in custody et cetera, our first Australians actually fare worse than minority groups elsewhere. On the weekend, thousands marched across the nation in solidarity with the global movement against racism. It is a sign of the time that people are united for a common cause of fundamental human equality.
As fellow Australians and above all, as people of Gospel justice, we must do well to reflect on our mission as agents for societal change, for the dignity of every person and for human flourishing, starting from the most disadvantaged and marginalised.
Today, we celebrate the core of our Christian faith: the God of love in whose image and likeness we were created; the God who sustains all of creation and enables every living being to flourish in the communion of love.
St Irenaeus long ago gave us a wonderful maxim and a succinct definition of the Christian faith. “The glory of God is human fully alive”. In other words, we honour God when we follow the example of Jesus who came that “all may have life and have it to the full”.
In the first reading, God reveals to Moses as full of tenderness and compassion in spite of the betrayal and hardness of the heart on the part of his people. God is closely bonded with his people throughout the ebbs and flows of history. He delivered them from oppression and slavery in Egypt. Therefore, they are to form a post-Exodus society, which would reflect the God of communion and love. This new society would be marked by concern for the God-given dignity of all and special attention to the most vulnerable. For Moses and the Israelites, worship of God is expressed in love of neighbour and human flourishing.
In the Gospel, the primacy of love as God’s revelation to the world is reaffirmed. Jesus told Nicodemus that God sent his Son into the world not to condemn but that it may have life through him. Jesus, the expression of Love incarnate, walks with us as we wander through this world towards eternity. He gave us guidance on how to keep going as we journey towards integration with God at the end of this life.
This is a simple and yet profound belief. If each of us, no matter who we are, has a common humanity rooted in the very nature of God, then we cannot think and act in an “us versus them” mentality. We cannot define who we are against who we are not, because we are all brothers and sisters. We cannot worship a God of love, communion and mission without concern for the marginalised and the vulnerable.
In the light of our celebration today, we pledge to create an environment where fear of differences is replaced by encouraging all people to share their gifts. The world often makes outsiders into enemies or rivals, but God calls us to greater openness to the surprising ways in which he conveys his presence and power. Let us commit ourselves to walk as pilgrims open to be formed and enriched by the journey. May we, in all the upheaval and chaos around us learn to act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with the God of life and love.