Rev. John Kha Tran - Houston, TX

A parishioner who is also a police officer told me this story. One day he asked an 85-year-old man if he knew he was speeding. The old man talked himself out of a ticket by stating, “Yes, but I had to get there before I forgot where in the heck I was going!” The officer thought of his grandfather and he let him go!

This weekend we celebrate Father’s day. Why are we celebrating Father’s day and Mother’s day? I believe that Father’s day and Mother’s day are opportunities for us to show our appreciation to our parents for their love and care for us.

A young woman wrote to Abby, “I am being married at the end of the summer. I have a biological father I see once or twice a year, and a stepfather who has been a big part of my life. I would prefer my stepfather to walk me down the aisle, but I feel guilty about what my biological father might think. Should I worry about their opinions?” (Signed by Touchy Decision).

I have witnessed many wonderful fathers, after years of raising and looking after their daughters, they joyfully and proudly walked their daughters to the altar on the day of their daughters’ weddings. These daughters want their dads to walk them down the aisle because they are proud of their dads and they appreciate them for giving their lives and taking care of them till they can take care of themselves.

Heavenly Dad

Today is also Holy Trinity Sunday. God is our Father. What can we do to show our appreciation to our heavenly Dad?

One day I was visiting a sharp 97 years old woman in the hospital. The daughter told me about her mother. She said, “Mom is 97. She fell and hit her head, and was hospitalized for several days. A handsome young doctor checked on her twice a day and he would ask each time if she knew the date and who the president was. After several visits, Mom looked at me and whispered, "What's the matter with that young man that he can't remember the name of the president and what day it is? I sure hope I have her genes.”

Do you remember the Name of God? And what are you doing for God on the day we honour him as our Heavenly Dad? Holy Trinity is not a celebration of an event in the salvation history such as Christmas or Easter or the Ascension or the Pentecost. Holy Trinity is a celebration of our faith and beliefs in the One True God. This One True God is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit who has revealed himself to us. His revelation is recorded in the Scriptures. When Philip asks Jesus, "Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us." Jesus says to him, "Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? (John 14:7-9). So to know Jesus is to know the Father. To love Jesus is to love the Father. To believe in Jesus is to believe in the Father. And when we believe in Jesus, we might not perish, but have eternal life. We might not be condemned but saved.

A Determined Heavenly Loving Dad

Our faith teaches us that out of his love God created the universe and the human race. The Bible says that we are created in the image of God. “God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him, male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27). But the human race has failed him. God could have destroyed everything and everyone. God could have abandoned humankind because of their sins; He, however, has not given up on the human race. God has determined to save humankind. The first reading tells us that after the people of Israel failed him, Moses went up the mountain and God came down from the cloud to meet each other. The verse “came down” tells us that God is willing to make the move. God is willing to reach out his hands to lift us up. God and Moses met because God was willing to forgive and save His people. God is our determined loving heavenly Dad.

In the Gospel reading, St. John reaffirms God’s commitment to love and save the human race, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” When we love someone, we want to give that person something. Last week the children from the Vacation Bible School gave me $460 to help the orphans in Vietnam. I took the money as the sign of their love for me. They could have given the money to someone else and to other charitable organizations, but they chose to give it to me. They love me and they love what I do for the poor children in Vietnam. So they gave me the money to help those poor children. When we give something to someone, it is because we love that person. We care about that person. That is the reason St. John says, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” God loves you and me; therefore, God gives us Jesus Christ. Jesus loves us; so He suffered and died for us. He gave us his life and continues to give himself to us in the Holy Eucharist. He sends his Holy Spirit to work with us, to guide us, to strengthen us, to defend us and to lead us on our way to heaven. So the first thing we can do is to acknowledge that God loves for us. He is our heavenly loving Dad.

Expressions of our Love to Our Heavenly Loving Dad

Now, what can we do on our part to respond to this One True God who loves us that much?

Baptized people gather together to worship God. This is a traditional practice in the Catholic Church. We gather together on Sundays to worship God. We don’t just worship any god, but the only One True God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. When we gather at church, we worship God in a special way as a community. There are personal preparations and communal preparation. The personal preparations start at home. We brush our teeth, take showers, wash ourselves, dress up nicely and get ready to go to church. When we enter the church, we bless ourselves with the holy water and the sign of the cross. We genuflect. We do all these rituals because we believe that this is God’s house. The church is the holy ground. When we are here, we are in the presence of God.

Following Jesus’ command, the Catholic Church continues to gather at the local church to celebrate the Holy Eucharist. The Holy Eucharist is the celebration of Jesus’ self-sacrifice for the salvation of humankind. The Eucharist is the hallmark of Catholic worship. It is the expressions of our faith in the love and works of the Trinitarian God for our salvation. Our faith and the faith of the Church in God will not change, but the expressions of our faith can change and has been changed from time to time.

So in the English speaking countries, there will be some changes in the Roman Missal when we celebrate the Mass. The Mass will continue to be the Mass. Our faith in the Eucharist stays the same, but there will be some changes in the liturgical language of the Mass. The reason for these changes is to bring the translations closer to the Latin text. This change will begin the first Sunday of Advent this year. This change doesn’t mean that the old translation was wrong, but it means that the new translation will be closer to the original Latin text.

For example, at the greeting at the beginning of the Mass, the priest says, “The Lord be with you.” The new response will be “and with your spirit.” This is a closer translation of the Latin, “Et cum spiritu tuo.” This new translation is richer. This is not an ordinary greeting like the daily interactions with others, but it is a preparation to enter a sacramental act of worship. This is the expression of our belief and expectation that the Holy Spirit be present to the entire community and particularly in the person of the celebrant. The priest represents Christ at Mass, and the response reaffirms that the Holy Spirit has come to him in a special way. The priest stands there not just as an ordinary man, but in the person of Christ. This dialogue establishes the interdependence between the people and their priest as they begin the act of worship.

Then we begin the liturgy with the Penitential Act. We confess and admit that we have sinned. There will be a new translation for the “Confiteor.” It’s almost the same as the one we already know. It begins with “I confess to Almighty God.” And instead of saying “I have sinned through my own fault . . . “the new translation will be, “I have greatly sinned in my thoughts . . . through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault; therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin . . .”

This is a reminder for us that we are responsible for our own sins. It is easy for us to blame others for our own faults. Standing before God, we have no one to blame but ourselves for our own sins. We are created in the image of God. Every one of us is a reflection of the Holy Trinity. We have the mind, the free will and the heart to love. These human faculties are the reflection of God’s intelligence, free will and love. Every one of us is responsible for our own actions. So when we gather together, we confess and admit our sinfulness to God and to one another; and we promise to repent and change our ways of conducts.

There is another significant change in the translation of the institution narrative when the priest speaks the words of Christ at the consecration of the bread and the wine. The new translation will be: “Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in memory of me.”

The covenant is called eternal instead of everlasting. In English, everlasting means something life “long-lasting.” Eternal is beyond any possible measurement of time.

Also the revised translation uses the verb “pour out” instead of shed. Jesus did not merely shed blood at the infliction of his wounds; he freely chose to pour out his blood completely for us. We will notice a significant change in the new translation between all and many. The current translation says that Jesus shed his blood for all. The new translation says he poured out his blood for many. It is clear that Jesus came for the salvation of all, but not all will accept his redemption. There are people who will reject his offer. The word in the Latin text literally means “many” and this is the word that Jesus used at the Last Supper. It is also implied in the words of the Gospel reading today when Jesus says, “Everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his so into the world to condemn the world but that the world might be saved. Please pay attention to the statement of “might be saved and might not perish.” This is the indication of the possibility to be saved or not to be saved, to perish or might not be perished.

As we celebrate Holy Trinity Sunday, we reaffirm our faith in our Heavenly Loving Dad!