During my second Memorial Day weekend trip to the grocery store, I encountered a spirited group of Marine Corps League members. These champions of The Few and The Proud flanked both entrances in an effort not to miss anyone who happened by to shop that day. Though their red shirts drew my interest when I drove into the parking lot, it was the music blaring around them which kept my attention as I walked from my car to the store. I couldn’t help humming along as I ambled on. Before I could utter a greeting, the entire group offered me a “Good morning” and a plethora of smiles. I returned their favor with my own wide grin. In the end, I promised to make a donation to their cause after I finished shopping.

In the store, as I loaded my cart with the items I had forgotten the day before, I realized that I continued to smile. Returning to the grocery store a second time on this holiday weekend did not thrill me in the least. Still, I smiled as I navigated the crowded aisles. I smiled as I waited for the woman ahead of me who ran off to get something she’d forgotten. I also smiled as I watched the cart of the person behind me who had also forgotten something he needed. I shared that I would not have been in line this particular day if I had remembered the items I had forgotten the day before. In spite of the long lines, the cashier chuckled with us as we shoppers shared a sigh of relief that we would soon be on our way home.

After collecting my change, I pulled out a bit of green to make good on my promise to those Marine boosters. The smiles which met me on the way into the store were fully intact on my way out. Though the tune which served as backdrop to this revelry had changed, the patriotic message had not. As soon as I dropped that bill into the bucket, the giggles came –even from the men. “Did you see that?” the fellow with the bucket chirped. I’m certain he was convinced that his winning smile had prompted my effort. Whatever the case, he rewarded me as he did all of his donors with a small American Flag. As I strolled back to my car, it occurred to me that this group would do very well with their donations that day. It was impossible for any of us who walked by to avoid being drawn in by their passion and devotion to their cause. As for me, I continued to smile as I made my way home, put away those groceries and sat at my keyboard to begin this writing. As I pondered the gift which we celebrate today, it occurred to me that the red-shirted entourage who greeted me at the store had shared much more than their smiles with me. Their passion and devotion toward the Marines whom they so generously support offered unexpected inspiration as well.

On this Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, we celebrate God’s presence among us. Love impelled God to begin this relationship by fashioning the universe and all who inhabit it. When we failed to appreciate God’s gifts and looked elsewhere for happiness, God relentlessly pursued us. When we continued to run from God’s love, heaven touched the earth in the person of Jesus. God’s presence became tangible through the Son who revealed God’s love firsthand. Jesus clarified what we had too long ignored and too long misunderstood. When we turned on Jesus, deserted him and saw to his death, Jesus responded by rising from the dead. He proved once and for all that God’s love prevails over everything. To be certain that we would never lose sight of God’s loving presence, God’s Holy Spirit came and remains among us. Though the Spirit is not often revealed in tongues of fire, the Spirit is revealed just the same.

You know, the infectious passion of the Marine Corps League was impossible for me to ignore that day. God’s ongoing presence in my life and yours is even more so. My red-shirted friends made a charming spectacle of themselves to draw me into their cause. Just the same, God does everything possible to draw us in and to embrace us with love. Whether we are at our best or at our worst, there is nothing we can do which will deter God’s devotion to us. It seems to me that our only option is to allow God to love us as only God can. When we surrender to God’s love and allow this love to consume us, we cannot help bringing that love to those around us whatever the circumstances.

Why do we celebrate this Trinity Sunday? We celebrate because our Triune God -Creator, Son and Spirit- loves us always and forever!

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Trinity Sunday

As a child, I often puzzled over the things I learned about God. I imagined God to be the kindly and caring Creator who appeared in our children’s bible. I still remember the rendering of our benevolent Maker looking lovingly upon Adam and Eve and the menagerie of animals provided to keep them company. My experiences at home confirmed my impressions quite dramatically.

I was only five when my uncle became ill. The 1950s offered no antibiotics to fight pneumonia. The curvature of my uncle’s spine further complicated his condition. As a very young child, Uncle Gee contracted polio which left his body severely bent and compromised his breathing. When he first became ill, we gathered in the living room to say the rosary every night. We prayed for our uncle’s recovery until it became evident that he would not survive. One evening, my mom changed our intention from “a full recovery” to “a happy death.” Because this dear uncle lived with us, his looming loss devastated us. My dad responded by assuring us that all would be well. My dad held us close as he explained that Uncle Gee was going to heaven. My dad insisted that everything in heaven is perfect and that God would make our uncle perfect, too. The pneumonia would be gone and his back would be as straight as can be. When my uncle passed away a few days later, I cried because I would miss him. Still, I knew that all was well. My caring Creator came through for Uncle Gee, just as God would for both my grandpas and my dad who passed away only a few years afterward.

As I grew into a second grader, I continued to puzzle over the things I learned about God. Though I had known about Jesus, I did not consider how Jesus fit into my image of God until the year I received First Communion. I listened carefully to all that Sister taught us about Jesus. When our parish priest visited our classroom to tell us more, I found that Father’s images of Jesus were most tangible. I liked what I heard. The parables Jesus told concurred with the image I had of my kindly and caring Creator God. All that Jesus said and did illustrated the magnitude of God loves for each of us. Young as I was, I found great joy and great consolation in the knowledge that, no matter what I did, God would always love me.

It was on or about my thirteenth birthday when the things which seemed so clear a year or month or day earlier become unexplainably murky. So it happened that I continued to puzzle over the things I learned about God. I realize that the adults around me to whom I had looked for guidance were not the perfect people I thought they were. What was worse, when I looked in the mirror, the sweet little girl I used to see had morphed into someone I hardly recognized. Though my mom continued to be a person of faith and Sister and Father continued to share their wisdom regarding God, I puzzled over my impressions of God all the more. Fortunately, Confirmation approached and becoming an adult Christian became the topic of the year. I had plenty to puzzle over as Sister and Father presented every sort of “what if” scenario. “How would an adult Christian respond?” they asked my classmate and me. In the end, we learned that our choices would grow in difficulty and in importance as we grew older. In the end, we also understood that we did not have to make difficult choices alone. God’s Holy Spirit would inspire and strengthen us, clarifying the situation and sanctifying our very souls until we made our way home to heaven. Once again, I liked what I heard regarding the constancy of God’s love for me.

This Trinity Sunday, we celebrate the wonder of God. Though my childhood musings cannot begin to explain the Blessed Trinity, they can explain the reasons we rejoice today. Ours is the God of Love revealed in the caring Creator who breathed life into us all. Ours is the God of Love who became one of us to reveal the true happiness found in caring for one another and in opening our hearts to Divine Love. Ours is the God of Love whose Spirit comes in the raging winds and gentle whispers which urge us on to be our best. Ours is the God of Love who loves and cares deeply for each and every one of us.

©2013 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved