The God Who is Worthy

Sunday June 7, 2020 Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity Cycle A)

The tie in between today’s readings: The Trinity’s Action in Salvation

Daniel 3:52-56, Exodus 34:4-9, 2 Corinthians 13:11-13, John 3:16-18

Let’s start with Daniel 3:52-56. On the surface, it looks like another redundant rundown of “blessed art thou”, “praise you”, “glory be”, with a couple of “forever and evers”, thrown in for good measure. We’ve seen it before in the Bible and it can be borderline boring. Now, we know that God should be exalted for who He is, but not blindly. The believer must have a reason for praise and worship or it’s just empty lip service.  So, keep reading and you will discover, like Daniel, that the Lord has earned His accolades! In our passage, Daniel sees three elements of worship: the holiness of God (vs 53), the rule of God (vs 54), and His Omniscience (vs 55). There is an unmentioned fourth element involved in this association: the sinfulness of man. There is nothing scarier to a sinner than a HOLY God that’s in charge and doesn’t miss a trick. We are all in big trouble! Fortunately, the Trinity devised a remedy for mankind’s tragic fate. This is the cause for Daniel’s jubilation. Salvation is a God thing!

Things went very badly in Exodus 32. Moses was up Mount Sinai receiving the Law of God, while the rest of the people below were worshipping the Golden Calf. Coming upon the scene, he was so enraged that he smashed the Ten Commandments on the ground. Having dealt with the aftermath, our reading today in Exodus 34:4-9 picks up with Moses, and two brand new tablets of stone, going back up the mountain for another chance. The Lord met with him and proclaimed one of the more puzzling principles we associate with God the Father: the generational curse. First off, in verse 6-7a, we see the Father proclaim His compassion for thousands of generations. Then in verse 7b, we get the Father punishing iniquities to the third and fourth generation. There are many different interpretations of these verses. For our purposes today, let’s look at it this way. You inherited original sin from Adam’s fall. The curse represents our lifespan as we see the effects of this sin nature in us and passed on to our descendants. If nothing changes, Holy God the Father will not let us, the guilty sinners, go unpunished. But there is mercy and forgiveness offered by the Father to the thousands of generations, literally forever, for those who want it. In response, Moses does the smart thing for Israel: falls on his face, confesses their sins, and begs for grace.

In today’s gospel, John 3:16-18, the Pharisee Nicodemus is having a one on one conversation concerning salvation with God the Son. You should read the whole chapter because there are important principles at work on either side of these verses. Jesus, like His Father, warns that you are under judgement already.  There are two ways to go. Believe in Him and become born again to eternal life or perish because you love your sin more than God. What, then, does it mean to believe? Let’s start at vs. 5 “…unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” So, you were baptized when you were an infant and that makes you born again. Well…yes and no. As a baby, the “faith” needed to make the sacrament valid was not your own. The Church’s faith stood in for you until you had a better understanding of things (CCC 1253-1255). It is similar in the Old Testament where after the baby boy was circumcised, he was considered a participant in all of God’s promises of salvation that belonged to the Jewish nation through Abraham. But God required a “circumcision of the heart”, an inner faith reality of the outward sign (Deuteronomy 10:16; 30:6). Baptism also needs an appropriation of the sacrament through your own faith. The church has a responsibility to foster this faith, but faith is not just agreeing with the Church’s teachings, or participating in sacraments, as important as they are. To cooperate with your baptism your faith needs to go deeper.  Although hard to describe, the article, A Personal Relationship with Jesus and the Catholic Church, from Catholic Missionary Disciples gives a good explanation. Here is a quote taken from it:

“Christian faith is not only a matter of believing that certain things are true, but above all a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” -Pope Benedict XVI

Forget the whole world for a moment. Saving faith says that even if you were the only person in the human race heading for hell, Jesus would have died on that cross just for you. “For the Father made the Son, who knew no sin, to become sin for us (you), so that we (you) may become the righteousness of God in Jesus” (2 Corinthians 5:21). By faith, you join yourself with Christ on the cross and rise with Him to a new everlasting life; you in Him and He in you (Galatians 2:20). This is love! This is personal! Do you believe (trust) the Savior’s sacrifice for your forgiveness and only way back to the Lord? If so, you will truly be born again to a life with God.

It is God the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, who indwells and produces the supernatural changes in a believer. It is the Holy Spirit that raises you to new life in Christ (Romans 8:11). He brings evidence of that life in you (Galatians 5:22-23). He gives you a deeper love for God (Romans 5:5). He gives us the power to overcome sin (Galatians 5:16). Because of all this and more, our epistle for today, 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 can end with Paul telling that troubled church in Corinth to rejoice, be comforted, and live in the love and peace of God. Now we have a focus of our worship. Now we can join the prophet Daniel in his praising God for such a great deliverance!

The gospel can be summed up like this:

JOHN 3:16

For God – THE GREATEST LOVER
so loved – THE GREATEST DEGREE
the world – THE GREATEST COMPANY
that he gave – THE GREATEST ACT
his only begotten Son – THE GREATEST GIFT
that whoever – THE GREATEST OPPORTUNITY
believes – THE GREATEST SIMPLICITY
in Him – THE GREATEST ATTRACTION
should not perish – THE GREATEST PROMISE
but – THE GREATEST DIFFERENCE
have – THE GREATEST CERTAINTY
everlasting life – THE GREATEST POSSESSION

Is your worship stale and boring? It could be that you need to take that deeper and necessary step of faith into an intimate relationship with God, The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The whole Trinity is involved in your redemption. The Spirit enables. The Son saves. The Father pardons. Fulfill your Baptismal calling.  Believe! Be forgiven! Be saved!

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