Called to a communion of life

By Fr. Mark Vander Steeg | May 28, 2015

Having celebrated last Sunday the feast of Pentecost and the bestowal of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, we can now give due honor to the fullness of God revealed to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit this Trinity Sunday. We would never have known that the One True God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit unless he revealed this to us, which he has. God has revealed himself as a Trinity. He remains the One God within who lives a divine relationship of love between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, into which we are called to share life with both now and forever. What a comforting truth to know that heaven is not simply a place of pleasure but is even more so a place of love.

God has desired and designed us to be with him since the beginning. The first reading for this Sunday captures the ancient invitation of God to the Hebrews, and through them to all of us, to come and share his life. We may not think at first that a reading having to do with statutes and commandments has much to do with love, but the statutes and commandments entrusted to the Hebrews protect and safeguard real love from the sorrow, sadness and manipulation of sin. This fact remains true in our own life. The statutes and commandments of God provide the necessary boundaries to safeguard our heart expressions towards God and others. It provides the bumpers to keep us on the path to everlasting life. The commandments of the Lord are a gift. Do we view and heed them as such?

God has recognized our challenge of living in communion with him on the way to eternal life and has come to our help on the journey. He has done this by providing a means of forgiveness for sin in Christ along the way of life and a means of strength to love God and others through the Holy Spirit who lives within us. Thus St. Paul can say in today’s second reading, “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a Spirit of adoption, through whom we cry out ‘Abba, Father’ … so that we also might be glorified with him.” Do we allow the Spirit to lead and teach us?

The Gospel for this Sunday makes clear that God wishes all of us to be with him forever. Christ commands the 11 remaining disciples to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” He desires none to be lost and desires all to learn the ways of a communion of love and truth in this life so as to enjoy them forever in the next.

Heaven is a cooperative gift and choice. It is an experience of eternal living that is the freest exchange of love imaginable without any hint of coercion. It is the ultimate authentic experience of loving and being loved. It alone satisfies the human heart. It is available for all of us, though our hearts must be willing to accept it. Are the relationships in my life reflective of this coming eternity or are they and we ourselves living to be lost on the last day? Eternity begins here, one relationship at a time.

Fr. Vander Steeg is pastor of St. Bernard Parish, Green Bay.

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