May 27th 2018. Feast of the Holy Trinity
GOSPEL Matthew 28:16-20
GOSPEL Matthew 28:16-20
he eleven disciples set out for Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had arranged to meet them. When they saw him they fell down before him, though some hesitated. Jesus came up and spoke to them. He said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.’
The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ
Kieran’s summary . . . The Feast of the Holy Trinity is not a time to reflect abstractly on a difficult theological doctrine; it is a celebration of a vibrant relationship with God. This feast proclaims two things to us: firstly, we are called to live an intimate, vibrant and concrete relationship with Father, Son and Spirit here on this earth. Secondly, the vibrancy of the relationship we have with the Trinity is manifested by our capacity to transmit it to others. We are capable of communicating this way of life and passing it on to the extent that the relationship is real in our hearts. In the Gospel, Jesus sends us forth to baptise in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit. The word “baptize” means “to immerse”. Each of us must be immersed in God. We must be disciples who live an intimate relationship of obedience, trust and abandonment to our Master. If we are immersed in God, then it becomes easy for us to follow Jesus’ command and go out to the whole world and immerse others in God. A teacher is dry and uninspiring when he teaches something abstract and purely theoretical. But a teacher who loves his subject, who lives what he teaches, has the capacity to communicate in an infectious and inspiring way. This is what we are called to do – firstly immerse ourselves in the life of the Trinity and secondly go out and immerse the whole world.
This is not a feast about a theologically abstract notion: it is a celebration of a relationship that brings happiness in the concrete here and now.
The feast of the Holy Trinity is not a feast about a theological abstraction but a celebration of our knowledge and experience of God. We do not deduce God - we encounter him. He has been revealed to us in a person; in everyday things we have the potential to come to an intimate knowledge of him. The first reading speaks of a God who has revealed himself to his chosen people. This God has manifested himself in signs and wonders, in battles with outstretched arm. These anthropomorphic descriptions of God demonstrate that he is a Lord who reveals himself to us in ways that we can understand. He is a God who is both up in heaven and operative down here on earth. There is no other God, and Moses exhorts the people to obey him by keeping his commandments. Interestingly, Moses does not say that the people are to honour God because his divine majesty merits the subservience of all people to him. Rather, by following his commandments they, and their children, will enter into a state of happiness. We care for our children more than we care for ourselves, so this point is very important. God asks for the obedience of the Israelites so that they and their children will live in happiness, will prosper in the land that the Lord has given them. They will be enabled to already taste the happiness of eternity here and now on earth. The God who lives in heaven can be experienced here on earth as the fount and principle of happiness.
Some of the disciples hesitate in bowing down before the Lord. This is how we are made. The measure of our unhappiness is the measure of how much we hold back from abandoning ourselves to God.
How do we live in this state of happiness on earth? The Gospel is from the last few lines of Matthew. Jesus’ appears to his disciples in Galilee upon the mountain where he himself had imparted to them many of his teachings. The disciples prostrate themselves before Jesus, but some of them hesitate. What a curious thing is this persistence of weakness within us. We always hold something back from the Lord. It is hard for us to abandon ourselves to him completely. This is our state of poverty; this is how we are made. We are in a process of continual negotiation with the Lord. There is always something within us that remains unenlightened. Our unfulfilled happiness is always proportional to the portion of our heart that we hold back from God, to that portion of our heart that has given in to hesitation.
The power of Jesus is a power that is not simply terrestrial. It is a power to make heaven present on earth right now by forming relationships between disciples and God
Jesus proclaims his power. It is not the power of this earth which is in the dominion of Satan. The power of Jesus is that which unites heaven and earth. During the temptations in the Gospel of Luke, Satan declares that all power on earth has been given to him. This is a power that does not unite itself to heaven and is directed solely to the things here below. The power of Christ is of a different sort altogether, the power to unite heaven and earth, the power to use the things of earth in the service of heaven – as we say in the Our Father: “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. As the Gospel passage makes clear, the power of Jesus is directed towards making disciples of all peoples. In the world there are disciples and there are people. The people are “self-made men” whose lives are lived in a self-referential way. Disciples, by contrast, live in relationship with their master. In Matthew’s Gospel, above all, Jesus is presented as the master who teaches. The disciple is not simply someone who listens to his teacher and leaves the relationship at this level. The disciple has an intimate relation with his master. In everything, he absorbs and learns and grows as a person. It is a wonderful thing to be a disciple and to have beautiful, novel, things revealed in every instant.
The Christian is one immersed in Father, Son and Spirit. This immersion is the foundation of his mission. When we are in intimate union with God, then we find it easy to transmit this union to others, forging relationships between them and God
The Christian, in fact, has a very special connection with his master. The Greek root for “baptism” means “to be immersed”. We are fully immersed in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in baptism, the sacrament that is the real centre of our Christian existence. The faith we profess involves being completely immersed in God, and then our Lord comes and immerses himself in us in the sacrament of the Eucharist. This mutual immersion makes us become a single entity. Heaven becomes present here on earth through our relationship with God. All of us experience heaven when we encounter a person who is immersed in God and God in him. The true disciple is fused with his master, has his master always with him in his heart. Such a disciple has the capacity to teach and pass on that which the master has entrusted to him. We are capable of teaching something when it is something that we truly live ourselves. If we try to teach people to do something using purely theoretical considerations, then we will have limited success. When I speak about something I love, I become very good at teaching that thing. I know the subject intimately and am able to describe its inner structure.