Sunday, June 3, 2012
Readings: Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40
For me, one of the most startling cultural differences between living in Maine and living in Maryland was the use of names, especially in the ways children refer to adults. Rather than a formal title and last name (such as Mrs. Smith or Mr. Jones), adults introduced me to children as “Miss Elizabeth.” It seemed strange to me (and for those in my generation, it made me think of “Miss Jo” from the television show Romper Room-the only other time I’d heard people use a title with a first name.) And having a long first name, people tend to shorten it so I’ve been known as “Miss Elizabeth” (in Baltimore), Elizabeth (my preferred name), Liz (childhood friends and family only), a nickname that my mother uses that I will keep private, “Elisabetta” (my Italian grandmother-or “Li” for short), “Betta” (when my sister was young), “Boo” (nieces who couldn’t pronounce Elizabeth), Aunt Elizabeth (my niece Julia), “E” (in e-mails where people don’t want to take the time to write out my full name), Elizabeth A. Keene (on my business cards), Elizabeth Ann Keene (by the government and by my cousin when she’s trying to make a point)-well, you get the idea. And, as David Stoddard and Frances Woodruff point out in a blog about today’s readings, we are called by different names because people see us in different ways- I am a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend, a cousin, a niece, a grandchild, a chaplain, a woman, a taxpayer, a Catholic. While I am many things, I am still one person.
That is what today’s readings are about as we celebrate Trinity Sunday-God has different names because God helps us in different ways but God is still One God. In Deuteronomy, Moses reminds the people that there is one God (very different from the other religions of their time). In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus encourages his disciples to “go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Three names of God-three different ways God helps us as creator of the world, as redeemer in the person of Jesus and as the One who makes things holy by the Spirit. One of my favorite descriptions of this relationship is the following introductory prayer:
“In the name of the God who word has called stars into being,
whose arms have held children whose eyes have sparkled with laughter
and whose breath has stirred within us and caused our hearts to thirst for love…”
In Catholic health care, the people for whom we care are more than a patient, resident or family member. They are also children, spouses, parents, workers, soul-searchers – much more than simply the illness or injury that brings them to us. They are looking for healing, comfort and hope. Since it is in God’s very nature to be in relationship, we too are called to be in relationship with not only our patients, residents and families but our colleagues as well. Some days that is more of a challenge than others but we do have Jesus’ promise from the end of Matthew’s Gospel-”I am with you always.” We can call upon the name of Jesus to help us find our way to love and fullness of life.
Tags: Deuteronomy, disciples, Gospel, Matthew, most holy trinity, pastoral care, romans, solemnity, St. Mary's, St. Mary's Health System, sunday gospel, Sunday Scribes, trinity sunday, word of god, word of the lord