Grace, Love, and Fellowship
The concluding verse of 2nd Corinthians is one of the most evident Trinitarian passages of the entire New Testament: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all" (2 Cor. 13:13). The verse expresses a divine blessing from St. Paul to his Christian brethren in Corinthians. This scriptural blessing is composed of three inter-related God attributes bestowed on all believers. The preposition "of" in verse 13 is used as a function word to specify qualities of relationship and possession among the three divine persons of the Holy Trinity, the central mystery of Christian faith. The one and only God reveal himself to us in terms of relationship and specific attributes of each divine person. Each time we bless ourselves with the sign of the Cross, we not only recall our Trinitarian baptism but also invoke and release attributes of this divine blessing on ourselves, that is, grace, love, and fellowship. These blessings should mark our lives and be with us always, especially as we reopen our Church to Mass with the congregation.
May the grace of God be with us at this time and always because it is only his super-abundance favor that sustains us through the experience of tragedies in this "vale of tears." It is only by our participation in the life of God through grace that we can live victoriously in our world full of sorrows, tears and blood brought about by the pandemic, as well as the murder, violence, and injustice overshadowing our country in the past week. May the love of God be with us always as we strive to make present in our community the self-giving love attribute of Jesus Christ. Non-Christians recognized the early Christians by their demonstration of sacrificial love for one another and strangers alike. May the fellowship of God be with us as we try to build up a community of charity. We are to build a culture of solidarity with the oppressed and marginalized by being attentive to their cry as Jesus did. As the U.S. Catholic Bishop's statement of May 21, 2020, says to us, "we should be doing a lot of listening right now" to the cry for justice. Our Christian faith calls us to identify with the pains and mourning of every person created in the image of Christ. We are to build a fellowship of equals though different in experiences, just like the equality though distinctness between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We have to be trinitarian in our approach to life.
"May the force be with you. Always" is a catchphrase made famous by Obi-Wan Kenobi character in George Lucas's Star Wars films. I believe the writer of the phrase was drawing inspiration from the Trinitarian blessings in 2 Corinthians 13:13. Could I borrow the format by saying, May the grace be with you always. May the love be with you always. May the fellowship be with you always. In our ongoing battle against the pandemics and injustice and violence in our world, may the example of the Holy Trinity inspire and guide us.
In conclusion, I must admit that I am filled with joy as I welcome you back to Mass with the congregation. We are going to move back gradually into our regular schedule. Please be patient with me as I navigate these new waters with you. Things are going to be done differently, including mass schedules and location. In the coming weeks, I will come out with plans for Adult Initiation, First Holy Communion and Confirmation. Visit our parish website regularly for updates. Thanks to all of you, you have been gracious and supportive. I pray for you always and know you pray for me as well. Let us continue practicing social distancing and wearing face masks. We are victorious in Christ Jesus.
In the Joy of the Lord,
Fr. Bernard Oniwe, OP