Holy Trinity B
The story of God we celebrate today as the Holy Trinity is never far separated from how we were told this story and who told us. It must be because the story of God is always in translation from mystery to revelation. This God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit is mystery; a mystery so deep that it defines infinite. But this God is not unknowable altogether because this is also a God of revelation, a God who wanted to be known. And if we only have a thin slice of the entire mystery of God to go on, God has made sure it is enough. That thin slice is still so large and generous that it becomes the center of our life, the reason for our blessing and the way to our peace.
Who told you about the story of God? Was it a parent, grandparent, friend or stranger? How did it move you? We should be very grateful to anyone who told us the story of God for that is the pathway of love. It is the story of mercy overcoming judgment and beauty triumphing over despair. It is the story of creation, the story of redemption and salvation. It is the promise of life over death.
Each of us is called to be a teller of that story for who could possess something so shimmering, so hope filled and not want to share it with those we love. It is the mission for every one of us. It makes us missionaries. For we tell this story in our prayer that connects us to God and brings us closer together. We tell it in our study so that we might grow in knowledge and better share it with others with depth and color. We tell it above all in our actions where we follow Christ and partake and break open his Spirit in ways of love, peace and understanding. We are God’s witnesses in the world.
But there are some among us who place that missionary part of our life at the center of theirs. They have a call within a call to serve in challenging and remote parts of the world. The Church has always been blessed by missionaries. They have gone to bring faith where none existed before; they bring light to darkness and justice to overcome systems of oppression. They are often not wanted by some and needed by all.
My friend Fr. Ferdinand is a missionary. He left the Ivory Coast and became a PIME missionary in Mexico. You might remember him from his visit here where we had a huge snow storm that shocked him. He has infectious enthusiasm and a dazzling smile. He is in his late thirties and he looks like he is twenty-five and that is the only thing I do not like about Fr. Ferdinand. He is a genius with languages and not only took up the local indigenous language of Mixtec, but created a dictionary from Mixtec into Spanish while at Cuana and found the differences in dialect so severe that he wrote another one when he moved to Our Lady of Mount Carmel in La Concordia. He gave his people the gift of hearing the mass in their native tongue for the first time. He is beloved and caring for all his people.
And tomorrow, he is boarding a flight to Italy and leaving the parish because of threats against his life. Already four priests this year alone have been assassinated in Mexico. Did you know that? We don’t seem to hear those stories in the news too often do we? Here is what he shared.
“One month ago I left the parish of La Concordia. Not a day goes by without thinking about these parish communities. The memories of people, places and activities are permanent and alive.
I had to escape to preserve my “physical integrity”. That’s what it was. I had no problem with anyone in these four years of indigenous and pleasant pastoral experience. The Mixtec adopted me as one of them. My future, I put it in God’s hand. In my village it says: “until you cut off your head, keep dreaming”. You will always be present in my memories, my dreams and my prayers.
At the end of the day, what counts is to have loved and served.” What can be a better statement about the life and call of a missionary?
Let me ask a few things of you. First: pray for Fr. Ferdinand. Obviously, pray for his safety, but also for his healing. His great love of ministry to his people has been taken away from him. Let us pray that he will find a new way to exercise his extraordinary skills in service to God.
Let us pray for our sister parish Our Lady of Mount Carmel. They too have lost someone they love through no fault of their own. And pray for the two new courageous PIME missionaries going to La Concordia now. May we always remember missionaries throughout the world.
Let us pray for our Church. There are many people who have reasons to be disappointed in the Church, but those who hate it, hate it for the very best things about it. Those who hate it do so because they thrive in darkness and despise the light. They prosper in the midst of oppression and fear the onset of justice and because they depend on violence, they are cowed by those who preach peace. When the church comes to lift up those who put down, they are threatened. Those who hate the Church hate it for the best things about it.
Finally, let me ask you to do what every missionary asks of us. Be a missionary yourself. Tell the story of our triune God with passion and courage. Bring light to darkness and preach truth to power. Only when everyone is a missionary will there be no need for missionaries.