Gospel Reflection for Trinity Sunday
A Community of Love and the call to Mission
Today is not the day to try and explain how three goes into one! The Feast of the Trinity is not a matter of facts, figures and numbers. We can’t explain this with a calculator! We can’t ‘Google’ this and find a nice neat explanation for it. The Trinity is not a puzzle or riddle that we can solve with our brains. The Trinity is a sacred mystery that we are called and invited to experience in our hearts through prayer and reflection. When we use the ‘mystery’ we are not talking about something that we can understand and with conversation and logic. When we use the word ‘mystery’ to talk about The Trinity, we are talking about a reality that is so endlessly rich and profound that it will never be exhausted. The more we pray about the power and presence of The Trinity, the more of it will be revealed to us. Through The Trinity, God creates and loves us, Jesus liberates and saves us and the Spirit encourages and strengthens us. The Trinity is a community of love and life that we are invited to be part of and share in.
The Trinity is not passive, silent or static; in fact it is the very opposite. The Trinity is alive, vibrant and dynamic. In our gospel this Sunday, Jesus sends out and missions his disciples in the name of the Trinity. This is often called ‘The Great Commandment.’ They are to announce and proclaim the Good News of the gospel in the name of The Trinity, not their own name! Jesus calls them together and then sends them out as his messengers and ambassadors.
Today, we are the people who are called to be Christ’s disciples and messengers. Today we are the people who are to proclaim and share with others all things that Jesus has done for us and told us. We are to live our daily lives conscious and aware that is through the sacred name of The Trinity that each of us has been baptised and confirmed. When a child or adult is baptised and become a member of God’s family, the church, the very same words that Jesus says in the gospel are used, ‘Go, make disciples of all nations; baptise them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.’ Through our baptism and confirmation, we are called to be active, vocal and visible members of the missionary church.
When we begin our prayer, whether alone or in church with others, we do so by making the sign of the cross and calling on the Trinity to guide us. Perhaps, today and during the coming week, we could do this a little slower. This will help us to become more aware that it is through the sacred name of The Trinity that we are members of missionary church and that we are all called to live and proclaim the Good News of the gospel and the message of Jesus.
Michael Moore OMI
The joy of discovering the hidden mystery
In primitive communities, baptism was administered in the name of Jesus. Peter, on the day of Pentecost, turned to the people and urged them to repent and be baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven” (Acts 2:38). The custom of baptizing in the name of the Trinity was introduced later. It is the formula that Matthew puts in the mouth of the Risen One. It reflects the liturgical practice of the second half of the first century A.D.
The scene told in today’s passage is set on a mountain in Galilee (v. 16). The mountain, in biblical language, indicates the location of the revelations of God. By placing the manifestation of the Risen Lord on the mountain, Matthew means that only one who has made an authentic experience of Christ and has assimilated his message is qualified to fulfill the mission he entrusts to his disciples.
In the second part of the passage (vv. 18-20) this mission is presented. The disciples receive the commission to make disciples of all nations, to baptize them and teach them to observe all that Jesus commanded.
They were already sent by the Master to proclaim the kingdom of heaven, but with a limitation: “Do not visit pagan territory and do not enter a Samaritan town. Go instead to the lost sheep of the people of Israel” (Mt 10:5-6). After Easter, their mission expands; it becomes universal.
The light of the gospel began to shine in Galilee when Jesus left Nazareth and settled in Capernaum. The people who sat in darkness saw a great light; to them who sat in the region and shadow of death, a light had risen (Mt 4:16). Now this light is destined to shine all over the world as the prophets announced. Israel becomes “light to the nations” (Is 42:6).
The timing is crucial, and Jesus refers, in a solemn manner, to his authority. The Father has sent him to bring the message of salvation and gave him all power in heaven and on earth. Heaven and earth indicate, in the language of the Bible, all of creation (Gen 1:1). Nothing, therefore, escapes the “rule” that the Father gave to Christ.
This universal “power” over all creation has nothing in common with the kingdoms of this world. It consists in the ability to serve man, leading him to salvation and introducing him in the intimacy of love with the Father.
It is at this point that the call to the mystery of the divine life that we celebrate in this feast is placed. Stammering with our poor language we call this mystery Trinity.
We are not called to give adherence to an abstract concept, to profess a cold formula, but to sing a grateful hymn to God for the gift he has made of his life. Our fate was death but, “God gives us, by grace, life everlasting” (Rom 6:23). Then the shout of joy emerges from our lips: “See what singular love the Father has for us: we are called children of God, and we really are! We are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been shown. Yet when he appears in his glory, we know that we shall be like him, for then we shall see him as he is” (1 Jn 3:1-3) and also: “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it dawned on the mind what God has prepared for those who love him. God has revealed it to us, through his Spirit” (1 Cor 2:9-10).
How will this plan of salvation be implemented?
God will carry it through the Christian community. The Risen One has not kept to himself the “power” conferred on him by the Father. He communicated it to his disciples, who are his extension in the world. He has given to them the task of bringing salvation to “all nations.”
Paul was aware of this task and the universality of salvation when he said: “For he wants all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4). No one, however sinful, will be excluded from the divine life, which is freely offered to every person, “So God has submitted all to disobedience, in order to show his mercy to all” (Rom 11:32).
The divine life will reach people through the preaching of the Gospel and baptism (v. 19). These are two acts that turn people into disciples and give rise to a whole new life, modeled on the values given by Christ (v. 20).
The “family” of God, the Trinity, is the picture of perfect harmony, full integration total realization (?) that occurs in the encounter and dialogue of love. This unity of all in the peace of the Father’s “home” is fully realized when the “saving power” of the Risen One will have reached, through the disciples, every person. However, it must begin now, in this world, because now God has already made partakers of his own Love.
The Christian community is called to a challenging vocation and certainly superior than human capabilities.
In the Bible, God’s every call is always accompanied by human fear and the Lord’s promise that assures: “Fear not, I am with you.” To Jacob traveling to an unknown land God guarantees: “I am with you and I will keep you safe wherever you go, nor will leave you” (Gen 28:15). To Israel deported to Babylon, God says, “Since you are precious in my sight and I have loved you. Fear not for I am with you” (Is 43:4-5). To Moses who objects: “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the people of Israel out of Egypt?” He replied: “I will be with you” (Ex 3:11-12). To Paul who in Corinth is tempted ‘to be discouraged, the Lord says, “Do not be afraid, I am with you so no one will harm you” (Acts 18:9-10).
The promise of the Risen Lord to his disciples, who are about to take their first, tentative steps could not be different: “I am with you always, even to the end of this world” (v. 20). The Gospel of Matthew ends as it had begun, with the call to Emmanuel, the God with us, the name by which the Messiah was foretold by the prophets (Mt 1:22-23).
The God in whom we Christians believe is not far. He is not in heaven, does not live as if our problems, our joys and our troubles do not touch him. He is the “God with us,” the God who is at our side every day, until he will have received us all in his house forever.