Have you ever seen a triple play?
Grand-slam home runs get all the glory, because they garner four runs all at once. It can make all the difference. Four points is the margin of victory in most baseball games.
Triple plays are treated more as a curiosity. They’re just three outs. But they’re three outs at once. They shut the other team down, when two players or three players were on base and aiming to score.
I confess I’m more impressed by the triple play, because it’s a marvel to watch. Multiple players seem to be thinking the same thoughts, coordinating their positions precisely, timing everything perfectly. It’s like ballet, but choreographed on the spot, by several people.
A grand slam involves four players on the offensive squad, but only one guy is driving the runs home. All four are acting as individuals.
In a triple play, those several players need to share a certain communion of mind and motion.
Forgive the extended metaphor, but it is baseball season; and as I type these words the Dodgers occupy first place in the National League West.
And I do have a point related to the faith.
In the Church we need to live in a deep communion with one another. It’s great that we have leaders such as Pope Francis and Archbishop Gomez and Bishop Barron, who make the news and draw media attention to the concerns of the Church. Their work is impressive, but it’s not the witness that astonishes me the most.
I’m most impressed by the kindnesses done spontaneously in the parish community. A friend of mine just told me that, in his large suburban parish, word went out that a parishioner needed a kidney transplant right away. Another parishioner, a total stranger to the man, stepped up and donated one of his own.
It was like a triple play, the way the various actions came together: the announcement of the need, the selfless and loving response, and the man’s healing. The man who received the kidney was a husband and the father of a large family, so the act of charity extended to the children as well.
This is the work of the Holy Spirit, whom we celebrate at Pentecost. The Spirit works through history to accomplish God’s will. But history is not so much the movement of troops and tanks as the movement of hearts, one at a time, according to a master plan.
God is nothing like Las Vegas. What happens in God doesn’t stay there. Rather, it’s communicated to you and me, first by way of the sacraments, and then by way of countless quiet inspirations. And what happens in God is love. The Father pours himself out in love for the Son; the Son returns that love entirely to the Father; and the love that they share is the Holy Spirit. (How’s that for a triple play?)
The principle of unity in the Trinity is a Person. It’s the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is also the principle of unity in the Church. The Spirit, given to each of us, holds us all together.
You can see that Spirit at work if you come to church more often and get more active in the parish. I guarantee it.