This weekend is marked by two observances
– one rooted in our human national history, and the other in theological revelation. But they are united by their common focus on our relationships. Monday, May 31 is Memorial Day, a national holiday, and for many, the “beginning of summer.” As we gather with family, or travel, or just enjoy the freedom of a day off, we also take some time to remember those who served, lived, and died in the Armed Forces to preserve that freedom across many generations, through many conflicts. While the historical and political causes and consequences of wars are complex, Memorial Day helps to humanize the abstractions of the headlines. Remembering those who have died is a sobering experience precisely because we are members of one human family, created by God and redeemed by Christ. Visiting a cemetery that day is a beautiful tradition, to pray for those we knew and loved but also those who will not have anyone visit their graves. Memorial Day affects us to the degree that we value those relationships that give life its richness. We pray for the women and men and families and communities affected by war, violence, oppression, persecution, greed, and all that would divide and destroy. The wounds and scars left by these tragic seasons of history linger, including grief for family members, colleagues, and even strangers who have been victims of these tragedies. “May their souls, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.” This same weekend, the Church offers us Trinity Sunday, a doctrine that is impossible to put adequately into words but as near to us as our own being, made in the image of God. We invoke this truth every time we make the sign of the Cross: there is one God Who in fact is a community of three Persons, united in and existing as perfect Love. See, words do fail. But the Persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit exist because of their relationships to one another in the one God; so every relationship in our lives is an opportunity to live in the image of God, Who is Love. Trinity Sunday, then, is a chance to reflect on our own relationships. How might I be a more caring and merciful parent, daughter or son, sister or brother, neighbor, friend?
Could I be more supportive, more honest, more present to those with whom I share life? Am I too distracted or wrapped up in my own projects to take interest in the interests of others? Do I show courtesy and respect, remembering to say Please and Thank You and I’m Sorry as part of daily interactions, even with those I do not know or perhaps do not like? When we are the kind of friends to others that we would want for ourselves, God is glorified. The causes of conflict in our world, though often complex as noted, ultimately are rooted in the imperfections we know as human persons; and their healing also comes through relationships ordered according to the Spirit Who is God’s own love. Come, then, Holy Spirit; and in our relationships, make us strong, and loving, and wise (II Timothy 1:7). Fr. Tom