Orphan Annie and the Trinity
May 29, 2018
The other day, I happened to be watching the remake version of Little Orphan Annie. Who of us are not familiar with this rags to riches story? Truth is, this is very much our story.
Can we even begin to imagine what it must feel like to be without parents and not have a family to call one’s own. As one of the kid’s in the Orphanage said to Annie…She’s never going to find her family…none of us are.”
Today’s celebration of the Holy Trinity reminds us that our greatest and deepest desire and need is to belong.
When Adam was placed in the Garden, despite all that God had given him he was sad…he felt incomplete…that is because God was saving His best creation for last…that which would complete the creation of Adam so that He might know the fullness of being human and the fullness of God’s love who created him.
When he sees Eve, Adam erupts with joyful praise…this one at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. Or in more modern terms…you complete me. We are created for togetherness because of who has created us…the Holy Trinity.
God Himself is an eternal communion of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and He has destined us to share in that communion…By worshiping the Trinity we realize the full truth of ourselves. Man lives in God and by God.
Our experience of the Trinity is first and foremost FAMILY, because our first experience of life is to be born into a community we call our particular family which is part of the extended family of mankind which is drawn forth from the infinitely extended family of eternal love who is the Holy Trinity.
During our lives we belong to teams, classes, armies, work groups, in-laws etc…our whole lives are about connecting, belonging and interacting. God is able to do that perfectly…us not so perfectly which exposes us to all sorts of problems, issues and pains none worse than dying and death which is the absolute worst separation and being pried apart there is.
Jesus says I am the way, the truth and the life…Because of who created us we were not meant to experience death…which is why we have so deep an ingrained fear of it. As we hear from Wedding Ceremonies, what God has joined together no one must separate. But what God joins…sin and Satan separate.
But rather than allow us to drown in our misery…God extends His hand from Heaven to rescue us. And not just His hand but His entire Human Body in fact…we call this the Incarnation. As we heard today
Did anything so great ever happen before? Was it ever heard of? Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live?
God speaks with a human voice…sees with human eyes and loves with a human heart because He is human.
Or did any god venture to go and take a nation for himself, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, with strong hand and outstretched arm.
More than taking a nation for Himself He took flesh from the body of a creature He had created…a woman, the Blessed Virgin Mary so that He could display those strong hands by carrying a Cross so that from that Cross those mighty arms of Christ could be outstretched not so much to be nailed as to embrace us…rescue us and keep us safe.
In the story, Annie meets up with a billionaire who eventually adopts her…paying the ransom of her being an orphan so to speak. But Christ ransoms us from the Orphaned condition that sin placed us in with something infinitely more valuable than all the wealth in the world. Saint Peter tells us:
Realize that you were ransomed from your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or goldl 19but with the precious blood of Christm as of a spotless unblemished lamb.
And to maintain that communion with God let us heed the advice from Moses:
You must keep his statutes and commandments that I enjoin on you today, that you and your children after you may prosper, and that you may have long life on the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you forever."
Faith is like a Relay race…you drop the baton you are disqualified and the race is lost…that baton is the legacy of Faith that parents, grandparents and God parents must pass along to their children unless they/we become Orphaned from God our Father…the Holy Trinity our Family and losing Heaven, becoming always homeless.
This is similar to the Inheritance concept…parents making additional provisions to ensure their children are cared for when they are gone…always giving…providing…which is the way God works…always giving…For God so loved the world that He gave His Son and together they give to us the gift of the Holy Spirit…why?
In Annie she is always the voice of hope, reminding the other children you are going to get adopted I promise…we all have family somewhere. And this is God’s promise…As the Father promised to send the Son by way of the prophets, the Father and Son promised to send the Holy Spirit as we hear Saint Paul remind us today:
You received a Spirit of adoption, through whom we cry, "Abba, Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
This is the awesome generosity of God, of claiming our status as children of God…receiving His Glory as Jesus prays before going to that Cross from which those outstretched arms would at last embrace us and reunite us with our lost family…As Jesus prays on the Night of the Last Supper:
“I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us.m 22And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one. Father, they are your gift to me.
We heard Jesus promise today I will not leave you orphans…I am with you always until the end of the age…And true to that promise Jesus remains present to us by way of His Body the Church but do we belong to the Church. Despite her close ties with the other kids in the orphanage, it is not where she or they want to remain…they desire a place and people to call their own…where despite the hard knocks of life…there are way more embraces by and encouragements from loved ones.
One of the kids, irate over Annie’s Pollyanna like optimism and relationship with Daddy Warbucks or Mr Starks in the updated version says…you think your life is a fairy tale…there is no happily ever after. In all good fairy tales before there is that happily ever after…there are any number of obstacles that must be hurdled and hurts to endure and be healed from.
The hope of happily ever after was temporarily squashed at Calvary and then resurrected forever on Easter Sunday. God the Father is able to adopt us…remove us from the prison and orphanage of our sinfulness by purchasing us with the blood of His Son Jesus Christ who reassures us:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith* in God; have faith also in me. 2In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3* And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.a
Like Annie goes from the basement to the penthouse…we go from death to life…for the better translation of My Father’s House is that of a Mansion. But what is a home if not for the Mom who lives there too:
The woman who helps Annie adjust to her new life is called grace…We have Mary our Mother who helps us adjust to the life of grace being the fullness of Grace who gives to us the body and blood of Jesus Christ in the holy eucharist from her own body…which assures us of our communion with God our Father and all the Angels and Saints in Heaven who form our extended family.
In those Good Friday moments of her life…Annie could sing with confidence The Sun will come out tomorrow…Three tomorrows later the Sun did come out…emerging from a Tomb so that sandwiched between Mother’s and Father’s Day we can all celebrate Holy Trinity or Family Day.