I have been on a pilgrimage of 16 years here in Italy, getting to know a little bit more Africa because I have met so many Africans while I have been living here, and indeed working very closely especially with people drawn from West Africa, from the nations of Nigeria, Ghana, and Sierra Leone, just to name three. But of course, Africa is much bigger than just its west, just as in the hymn we sang moments ago. There’s north, there’s south, and there’s east as well, within the continent, that rich continent of Africa. Rich in every sense, but rich most of all as we celebrate this feast of the Holy Trinity in the way that God’s grace is poured upon it. And the praises of God resound that. Praise the Lord. Alleluia.
'Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.' Thus Romans, Paul writing to the Romans. well, 'We do not know how to pray as we ought' . . . I understand that. But what about the rest?' The ‘spirit interceding in us with sighs too deep for words? It is very odd what Paul is saying here. It as if we are caught up in the life of the Trinity, and prayer comes from God, by God, to God. What about me?
“In the fullness of time . . .”This is a well known phrase in church circles. We hear it in scripture: “But in the fullness of time God sent his son, born of a woman”; we hear it in our liturgy: “In the fullness of time, reconcile all things in Christ, and make them new…” It speaks beyond the simple appeal to a chronological measurement. Rather, the fullness of time conveys the truth that God intimately dwells within the dynamic of the present moment. It declares an activity as much as it declares a time-frame. Those familiar with Greek lexicon will hear. . .
Today is a great day in the life of this parish, St. Paul's Within the Walls, Rome, as we come together to baptize, to confirm and to receive. We have this wonderful Gospel of John for the sixth Sunday of Easter, and it is absolutely perfect for the occasion: ‘There is no one greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.' It so happens that that the King James’ version is instead often quoted as ‘greater love hath no man than this.’ It is often thought that this verse, in particular, is something fresh and new that the disciples would have had never heard before. But in fact, the ancient world believed . . .