My mother, God rest her soul, was a passionate gardener and a clever parent. She worked for many years as a night nurse, and her favorite recreation was working out in the yard after she got my sister and me from school in the afternoon. She knew how to grow almost anything, and how to deal with annoying little boys like me, who asked too many questions all the time.
She got a special plant for me and put it in a shady corner of our garden in Sacramento. It’s a plant that puzzled me then, and puzzles me to this day. The plant, Brunfelsia pauciflora, is commonly known as “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.” When I got too annoying, my mom would send me to look at the plant and have me tell her what color the flowers were.
Therein lay the puzzle. One day, a newly opened flower would be a deep, dare I call it “UW Husky,” purple. The next day, the same little blossom would be delicate lavender. The third day, pale white, with just the faintest veining of lavender. Yesterday, today, tomorrow. One reality. One flower. Three faces, yet one face, seen and experienced at different times, in different ways. Three personalities. One reality. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Not a bad metaphor for the mystery of the trinity.
There are, the theologians tell us, three persons in one God. Father, creator and sustainer; Son, savior and redeemer; Holy Spirit, consoler and guide. Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, Always.
The first reading from Deuteronomy today tells us of Yesterday, of the mighty deeds God worked in creation, in the covenant with the people of Israel, in the gift of the law and the prophets. Existing before, outside of time, God fathers forth creation; mothers us into being, out of pure goodness, out of desire to share life and light. This God saves us and sets us free.
And before creation, before time, that love, that light is forever in relationship, a primordial Word of Love is spoken into sonship, one in being yet distinct. That creative word makes Today, this time and space, our time, our space where we live and move and have our being, and where we find we need to be saved from ourselves. So, we believe, the word became made flesh, and dwells among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of an only begotten son, full of grace and truth.
The glorious light shining in the darkness, the glorious life that conquers even death itself is Jesus the Son who breathes forth his spirit on us from the Cross, and at Pentecost. The Spirit is that same love that binds the father to the son, the son to the father, yesterday to today, today to yesterday. The Spirit gives us Tomorrow, and hope.
We spend our lives looking back to our yesterdays, to what we have experienced, received, learned, loved, lost, and found. If we can find humility enough, we say “Thank You.”
We try to live in this day with heart and hands open, following the Word given to us, the word made flesh who is Jesus our brother and savior, God made manifest, God made flesh, God who loves us to death, even to death on the cross. As the preface from our funeral mass says, “in Him we see our God made visible, and so are taken up in love of the God we cannot see.” We greet him the days that we meet him and bless when we understand. In him we say “Amen” to the wonderful works of God.
In the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Yesterday and Today give us Tomorrow. God the creator, God the redeemer is not done with us. God the Consoler, God the Spirit of love transforms us as surely as the gifts on this table are transformed into the body and blood of Christ through the Spirit’s power. The Spirit gives us breath to call God “Abba”, “Papa”; gives us voice to call Jesus our savior and Lord; gives us courage and strength to say “Yes” to life, to hope, to the power of love to transform this broken world. The Spirit gives us tomorrow, and the bright promise of eternal life.
God Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow; as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
Thank you, Amen. Yes.
Fr. Tom Lucas, S.J.