Love in Community

Do you know who Dorothy Day was? She was a radical socialist who became a Catholic; she always kept her passion for the poor and her distrust of authority throughout her life. She died in 1982.

She was always betting into trouble. One of my favorite photos of her shows her surrounded by armed police at a demonstration. She’s sitting only a few feet from them, her legs crossed casually as she looks them in the eye.

Dorothy’s autobiography is called The Long Loneliness. It’s a wonderful book. You should read it! The book’s title is taken from a famous passage in it:

“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.”

And that’s what Trinity Sunday is all about. Love in community. God, who is love, is also a community, and the Trinity teaches us how to live in community and love. We’ve been exploring community recently: the disciples commanded to form a worldwide community at the Ascension, the community animated by the Spirit at Pentecost, and next week we’ll celebrate community in the Body and Blood of Jesus.

It takes two to tango. That’s the most obvious thing about love. If there’s only yourself involved it’s not really love. And while many people find love as a couple, what we are invited to discover as disciples of Jesus is that the greatest love extends to an entire community.

You’ve probably seen comedy sketches where someone in a clown outfit runs into the scene carrying a sign that reads “John 3:16.” Do you know how that started? I’m going to date myself here, so let’s see if any of you will join me by admitting you remember that in the 1970s and 80s there was a guy who wore a rainbow clown wig at sporting events and held up a sign that said simply “John 3:16.”

It seemed that no matter what the sporting event, or where, this guy was there. He must have spent a fortune on travel and tickets for years. His name was Rollen Stewart, and every year he travelled over 500,000 miles to attend 100 games a year. And he didn’t even like sports. In 1992 he eventually became totally unhinged and melted down in a spectacular hostage standoff at the LA Airport Hyatt. He was sentenced to three life terms.

Today some people imitate him, holding up signs that say “John 3:16” at sporting events. But do you know what that verse says? It was in today’s gospel reading.

God so loved the world
that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him
might not perish
but might have eternal life.

Note what it says about God’s love. It doesn’t say “God so loved Catholics,” or “God so loved Christians,” or “God so loved those who obeyed his commandments.”

It says God loved the world. Not just some humans, all humans. And not just all humans, but the entire Earth and all it contains. God’s love is unending, without boundaries or limits. And this is the Trinitarian love we are invited to imitate, one that embraces the ultimate community, all of Earth. And for the ancients, the world was the universe, so this love extends even that far.

Why is it so difficult for us to spread our love far and wide? In the second reading Moses calls the Israelites a “stiff-necked people.” I’d say I qualify for that description, how about you? No doubt there are many reasons we don’t love more widely. Fear of getting hurt, shyness, thinking the other is my enemy, violent disagreement, confining my love to those who love me.

As that Elvis song says, “Wise men say only fools rush in.”

But that’s exactly what the Son did; he rushed in like a fool, because he can’t help falling in love with you.

There’s something that happens pretty much every Sunday that can remind us of how we should imitate the Trinity, and it happens right at the very beginning of Mass: the priest’s greeting:

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the communion of the Holy Spirit
be with you all.

And you know where we got that? From today’s second reading from the Second Letter to the Corinthians.

How should we live? It’s all there.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Grace is God sharing some part of his life with us. And of course the greatest grace was his own Son, sent because God so loved the world.

The love of God: God, of course, is love. When we love we become like God the Father.

The communion of the Holy Spirit: Communion is another word for community. Think about it; when you receive Jesus in the climax of the Mass, that very act is called communion, or community. When we realize that, how can I consider it some private thing between God and I?

Grace. Love. Communion. Sharing life, sharing ourselves, living together in community. With everybody. That’s how we begin Mass, and that’s what you and I are called to do when we leave this place.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the communion of the Holy Spirit
be with you all!


Listen to this Homily

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One Response to Love in Community

  1. Dear Eric,

    Thank you for sharing your homily of FB. I look forward to seeing your homily when I jump on this FB mode that connects me to many of my brothers and sisters in all parts of the world in the sharing of our letters (Epistles). I pass this now unto them in sharing the Good News!

    Prayerfully yours,