Saint Vincent Archabbey
Most Holy Trinity
Trinity Sunday, Classic
Matthew 28: 16:20
This carefully crafted passage is the climactic summary of the essential themes of Matthew's gospel. Jesus, now Risen Lord, reveals that all power in heaven and on earth has been given to him, and thus he has authority to commission his disciples to continue and to extend his mission to all the nations of the earth.
Jesus' epiphany and commission to the eleven take place on a mountain, the symbolic place where humans encounter the divine presence. The mountains of encounter unite in a single narrative the biblical covenants, and make all history a sacred history. These awesome places of the divine presence evoke the memory of crucial turning points of human history: Ararat, Moriah, Sinai, Zion, Carmel. Matthew, fully in harmony with this tradition, brings the narrative of the divine plan to its climax. He tells of Jesus' trial of temptations, his sermon, and his transfiguration on a mountain.
From the severe testing of faith on the Mount of Olives, Jesus descends to suffer and die in obedience to his Father's will.
Now on a mountain, Jesus with divine authority commissions the eleven to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. God's promise to Abraham after the testing of faith on Mount Moriah will at last be fulfilled. Through Jesus, son of Abraham, "all the nations of the earth will find blessing" (Genesis 22: 1:18). All nations will hear the good news, and be taught to observe what the Lord has commanded. Matthew concludes his gospel and begins the era of the church with the promise of Jesus: "And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."
The good news we hear proclaimed on Trinity Sunday is that Jesus the Risen Lord wants us to share divine life with him in the oneness of intimate, familial love with his Father and Holy Spirit. Through the gift of baptism we belong to God, and God belongs to us. With Jesus we can say Our Father. We are at home in God.
To be certain that we do not imagine the era of the church to be an illusory Utopia above the ambiguities of the human condition, Matthew interjects a surprising note of realism. He tells us that though the eleven disciples recognize Jesus as Risen Lord and worship him, at the same time they doubt. He uses the same Greek verb for "doubt" as he did when Jesus stretched out his hand to Peter, frightened and sinking in the stormy water: "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Matthew 14: 22:33)
A theme of Matthew's gospel is the contrast between the total, single-minded faith of Jesus and the double-minded, little faith of his disciples. Jesus tells the disciples that because of their little faith they do not understand him, and for the same reason they are unable to cast out a demon (Matthew 16: 8 and 17: 20).
The disciples, except for one of the original Twelve, are willing to follow Jesus and listen to his commands; but at the same time their "common sense" tells them that what Jesus expects is way beyond their capacity to accomplish. It is not difficult for us present-day disciples to identify with the feeling of inadequacy and doubt in the face of the powerful forces that oppose the fulfillment of the divine promise of blessedness in our own circumstances. Like the first disciples, we worship the Risen Lord; and we doubt. Yet we go on because we trust with our little faith that all power in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus.
The Risen Lord, who conquered even death, is with us as he promised. When we do not understand what is going on, when the demons in us and around us seem invincible, when we begin to sink in the stormy water, when the task at hand seems too much for us, Jesus stretches out his hand and says: "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" With our little faith, we can only respond: "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief."
Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B.
Trinity Sunday, Modern
Sunday, May 27, 2018
Today is Trinity Sunday, the first Sunday following both Pentecost and the entire Easter season. Through the fifty days of Easter culminating with Pentecost we rejoice in the resurrection of Christ from the dead, the foundational event of Christian faith and the source of all authentic Christian hope. As that Easter season approached its crescendo in the days of the feasts of the Ascension and Pentecost we heard a clear and consistent theme in both the scripture readings at mass and in the prayers said at mass that directs us to take up the mission of sharing with the whole world the Trinitarian faith we treasure as believers in the risen Lord.
Now that we pass into the long season of the Church year that is called "ordinary time" a somewhat unfortunate name we are urged once more by the readings to commit ourselves to the mission theme announced at the Ascension and Pentecost, and a Trinitarian catechesis launches us on our way.
The first reading today comes from Deuteronomy, and it extolls God for creating the world and all that is in it, for revealing himself to the people of Israel, and for leading them forth in triumph from their slavery in Egypt. Deuteronomy reflects at length on God's loving words and deeds as they were made know to Israel, and in one of its most profound passages teaches that there is One God only (Deut 6:4-5). This is a touchstone of both Judaism and Christianity, and for Catholics it is a critical point to recall on Trinity Sunday: we do not worship three "Gods" Father, Son, and Holy Spirit but rather one God, revealed to us as the three Persons of the Holy Trinity.
Having learned that there is only one true God, the Psalms then teach us to call out to God not as some sort of abstract entity, but as One who genuinely loves us: "See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him, upon those who hope for his kindness, To deliver them from death and preserve them in spite of famine" (Ps 33:18-19). Next, in today's excerpt from the Letter to the Romans, Saint Paul teaches us that "we are children of God" and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ" witnessed to by the very Spirit of God (Rom 8:16-17). Thus we are affirmed in our faith that the one true God reveals himself to us as Father, Son, and Spirit, whom we normally call the Holy Spirit and that we are considered by God to be his children, adopted in Christ the Son.
So then we rejoice in our adopted sonship or daughterhood and set out to live in the light of this joyous mystery. To do that, we return to the theme that ran strongly through the readings for the last two Sundays, that of mission. In the Gospel reading for Trinity Sunday Saint Matthew tells us: "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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age" (Matt 28:19).
Strengthened by the love of God which is made visible to us in the risen Christ, let us resolve to enter into the long summertime of the Church year, living as though we truly believe that which we profess each week in the Creed, and thus helping to make the Good News of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit come alive both in our own homes and neighborhoods and to the ends of the earth.
Father Edward Mazich, O.S.B.