Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity: The Power of the Name
One day, not all that long after Pentecost Sunday when the apostles received the Holy Spirit, Peter and John were walking through the area of the Temple in Jerusalem. They had been preaching about Jesus, His message of hope, His gospel of love. They came to a gate in the Temple which was called the Beautiful Gate. The Temple in Jerusalem was one of the wonders of the ancient world. Not just the Jews, but people from throughout the world would journey to Jerusalem to see it. We can only imagine what that Beautiful Gate looked like. It must have been inlaid with precious stones, or perhaps it contained reliefs of the great moments of Jewish history, the deliverance from the Egyptians, the victories of Samson, Gideon and the others of the Book of Judges, the conquests of David, the wisdom of Solomon. And then there was the Beautiful Gate. Certainly, if anyone went to Jerusalem, they would go to see this maginificent part of the Temple. Now, every day a man who was born crippled was carried to the Beautiful Gate by some of his friends. He was brought there to beg. It was a good place for seeking alms. A lot of well off people would be there. Then Peter and John came by. The man asked them for money, begged for a few coins. He got more than he could have ever hoped. Peter said to him, "Look at us! I don't have silver or gold, but I give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." He took the man's arms and helped him up. The man's feet became strong. He didn't just walk. He leapt! And then he followed the apostles, through the Beautiful Gate and into the Temple, praising God. "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth," Peter said. We usually reduce a name to a way of distinguising one person from another. The ancients saw more than that. They knew that names could also have power. If a Roman official said, "In the name of Caesar, I command you," then the weight of the Roman Government was supporting his demand. There was power in this name. But this power was limited. The name of Caesar could not save Pontius Pilate from making a decision that would condemn him for history as the one who washed his hands instead of recognizing Jesus' innocence. The power of the name of Rome was limited. It had no effect on the spiritual.
But there is no limit to the power of the Name of God. "I baptize you," the priest or deacon said as he poured water over each of us perhaps many years ago, "I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit," He involked upon us the full power of God. This was the Power of the Creator, the Power of the Redeemer, the Power of the Inspirer, the full power of the Name."
Through the power of this Name, a small group of Jewish commoners, fishermen mostly, brought hope to a world living in despair. When evil attempted to stop them with torture and even death, the power of the Name strenghtened the presence of Christ's followers until the entire Roman Empire embraced Christianity. Throughout history, the truly great women and men, have allowed the power of the Name to lift others off their lame feet and lead them into God's Presence leaping for joy. We have been blessed to witness St. John Paul II lift so many to joy, particularly the young whom he inspired in the World Youth Days. Before he was pope, before he was a priest, Karol Wojtya was the Polish son of everyday people. He was quite intelligent, and for that reason it was shocking that he surived World War II, when so many of the leading minds of Poland were killed. It was shocking that he should become a priest studying during the Nazi occupation, and then the Russian occupation. As a young priest without any ties to well of families, he still became a bishop, and then, after hundreds of years of popes from Italy, how astounding it was that he should be chosen to become pope? The hand of God was present there, and the power of the name of God allowed Pope John Paul II to begin a new evangelization, starting with the young.
We have been blessed to witness Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta lift the world to recognize Christ in the poorest of the poor. She was not from India, you know. She was from Albania. Nor did she begin her religious life as a minister to the poor. She was a member of a religious order that taught girls, most of them from well off families. But the power of the name of God transformed her life. She heard the poor of India, the poor of the world calling out to her. Rather, she heard the power of God calling out to her in the poorest of the poor. And this little nun, barely five feet tall, became a giant in this world and a saint in the next.
The power of the name of God can transform us all into doing greater actions then we can ever imagine. As a priest I have been blessed to see that in so many of you, so many members of our parish. I have witnessed people dying from cancer yet living so united to God until their last breathe, that family members and friends who had been away from faith returned to the Lord. I have witnessed the faith of parents grow even in the middle of the sickness and even the death of their children causing others to ask, "How can I question God, when he or she holds so tightly to Him in the middle of trauma?" This is the power of the name of God.
My brothers and sisters, we sell ourselves short. Or, perhaps, better said, we sell the power of God working through us short. We think that we are not good enough to be wholesome Christians in the middle of an immoral society. Or we think that we are too weak to be good parents, a good teen, a determined Catholic. We might feel the call within us to become a person whose career is to reach out to others, a nurse, a doctor, a teacher, a social worker, a psychologist, a lawyer, a priest, a sister, or what have you, but we refuse to listen to it. We think that we don't have it within us to go where God is leading us. We are wrong. We are selling ourselves short. When we are attacked by those negative thoughts, we cannot forget that we were baptized in the Name of God, Father, Son and Spirit. We possess the power of the Name. We are good enough. He makes us good enough. He gives us all we need to make His Presence real in the world. He has given us the power of the Name.
Trinity Sunday is not just about the dogma and the doctrine of whom God is. Trinity Sunday is about whom we are, for on Trinity Sunday we are reminded that we have been baptized in the Name of God. And that Name has Power.