05.30.2021 The Most Holy Trinity



Domenico Ghirlandaio (1448 - 1494) ‘Vocation of the Apostles’ (1482) Sistine Chapel - Vatican

The theme depicts the fishermen Peter and Andrew being called by Jesus. James and John can also be seen in the background, directly behind Jesus, being called as they were repairing nets on their father Zebedee's boat. Peter and Andrew are in the foreground of the picture, dressed in cloaks with the traditional colours ascribed to them down the Christian Centuries: yellow/orange for Peter and green for Andrew. They are pictured kneeling before Christ who blesses them. A unique element of this fresco is the inclusion of a multitude of people portrayed in contemporary Middle Age dress. Their faces were those of the Florentine Community in Rome, who resided near the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva.


Lectio Matthew 28: 16-2016The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age’”. Meditatio

Context The Liturgy offers this text to mark the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity. Although this Solemnity belongs to what is called “Ordinary Time” of the Liturgical Calendar, the Church organizes the two great Feasts of Holy Trinity and of Corpus Christi immediately following the Liturgical Season of Easter to give continuity to the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ from the dead. There are many texts in the New Testament that make reference to the Holy Trinity. Last year, for this celebration, we read a text from the Gospel of John[1]. Others could well have been chosen for the occasion. The text we read this year, according to the Gospel of Matthew, is the final discourse of Jesus before ascending into heaven, and where the Apostles received the ‘Great Commission’. The allusion to the Holy Trinity in this text is in reference to the Rite of Baptism and the command of Jesus to go out and make disciples of all nations. Introduction There is no place in the Bible where the words “Holy Trinity” can actually be found, but that does not mean that Jesus did not reveal the Trinitarian identity of God. A proof of this is today’s text that contains the “Trinitarian Baptismal Formula”, most probably taken from the already existing practice of Baptism in the Early Christian Community. Again, last week the Gospel of John provided a teaching of Jesus that is very important for us to consider in this context: “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth”[2].

Galilee Jesus died in Jerusalem and showed Himself in Jerusalem. In the Gospel of Mark, Mary Magdalen was given the command to tell the Disciples to go on to Galilee where they would see him[3]. In fact, the Gospels do not agree on the place where the Ascension took place: Mark does not give any geographic reference[4]; Luke narrates how Jesus ascended from Bethany[5]; the Gospel of John does not mention the Ascension but describes the last apparitions of Jesus to the Disciples taking place by the Sea of Galilee[6]; and finally, the Gospel of Matthew, that borrowed much of its content from Mark, situates the event not by the Sea of Tiberias, but on a “mountain” in Galilee. Interestingly in this regard, pilgrims to the Holy Land have traditionally visited the ‘Chapel of the Ascension’ on the Mount of Olives, the place where Christians have venerated the Feast of the Ascension since before the conversion of the Emperor Constantine in 312 A.D. Galilee was the place from where the First Disciples[7] all originally came, and from where the Good News is going to spread to the whole world: the doorway to the Gentiles. It is also the place where “everything began”, the place where Jesus first met the Disciples. While the Old Testament considered Jerusalem, and the Temple in particular, as the centre of God’s presence and action, the Gospel in contrast will radiate the grace of God to the whole world from Galilee. They worship Him The prophesy narrated in the Gospel of John is being fulfilled[8]. Far from Jerusalem, Jesus takes his place as the New Moses, in fulfilment of the Scriptures: as Moses adored the Lord on Mount Horeb, so the Disciples adore Jesus, the God-made-man, on a mountainside in Galilee. Some doubted Are we surprised that some of the Disciples “doubted”? The Gospels have already shown how on occasion the Disciples did not fully grasp the identity of Jesus. This should not come as any surprise to us, given the difficulty of understanding who Jesus, the God-made-man, truly is. The fact that some of the Disciples are described as being “doubtful” only goes to indicate that the Disciples came to accept the fulness of faith in Christ gradually. Faith is dynamic and it grows! Go, make Disciples and Baptise It is interesting to note that “making disciples” precedes the act of Baptism. The Church in general, and the Catholic Church in particular, has been outstanding in fulfilling the command to baptise, but what of the work of “making disciples”? “Making disciples” not only means bringing people to knowledge of God, but to an encounter with Christ, following the methodology Jesus Himself used: first He called the Disciples and only baptised them with the Holy Spirit after He had ascended into Heaven. Eleven simple Galileans are sent forth to conquer the world for Christ. During the life of Jesus they showed just how frail there were. However, as they are entrusted with the greatest task in history, they are assured of the greatest consolation: the presence of Christ in their midst.

Oratio The Trinity is the source, the end and the way of life. · Those baptised in the name of the Father, revealed in Jesus, commit themselves to live as sisters and brothers in fraternity. · Those baptised in the name of the Son, Jesus, commit themselves to imitate Him, and to follow Him whatever. · Those baptised in the Holy Spirit, given by Jesus, commit themselves to be led by the Spirit who is always present in the Community. “Though few and small and weak your band, Strong in your Captain’s strength, Go in the conquest of all lands; All must be His at length”.


Contemplatio

The Eleven were given the great commission to make disciples of all nations. They barely knew their own language, yet they started where they were, with their own talents and in the familiar surroundings of Galilee. The promise of Jesus to remain with them is what has made possible that today two and a half billion on earth call themselves “Christian”.


The question that can haunt us: “Have I been able to make a single disciple of Christ in my entire life?” Jesus does not say that we have to be to be specially endowed with gifts, know languages, or travel far and wide. He sends us to where we are already. This is where we should ‘make disciples’, and bring people to an encounter with Jesus.

“Lord, you are with me whenever I speak of you to others. Give me the courage to break through my fears and doubts. Give me the courage of the First Disciples to proclaim your Gospel”.

[1] John 3:16-18: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life ….” . [2] John 16: 13 [3] Mark 16: 7: “But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you”. [4] Mark 16: 19-20: “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it”. [5] Luke 24: 50-51: “Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven”. [6] John 21: 1: “After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias”. [7] Acts 2: 7: “Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?” [8] John 4: 21: “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem”.

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