The Holy Trinity, Vermeyen c.1530, Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain.
Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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… Matthew 28:18-20.
Words and phrases highlighted in red are links to supporting materials.
These words conclude the gospel according to Matthew, and there is nothing like them in the other three gospels. There is no discussion in Matthew as to what they mean. But there has certainly been an enormous amount of discussion about their meaning in the centuries since. There is universality in Jesus’ commission: “Make disciples of all nations”, hence not just the Jewish people. These new disciples are to be baptized, clearly seen as the new rite of initiation (not Jewish circumcision), also indicating a universal acceptance. And of course, there is the Trinitarian revelation. There had been several moments in the life of Jesus which had pointed to three divine strengths, powers, persons, call them what you will, to support this final revelation from the Lord. But as to the meaning – nothing. How on earth do you equate three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit with a monotheistic vision, a belief in One God? It is the Christian mystery, inexplicable on just about any level save that of blind faith. One either accepts it in faith or rejects it.
And then there is the mystery of human life on certain levels which might be termed inexplicable. Take, for example, the apparent fusion of two minds of people who have been close to each other for a long time. There is, it seems, even objective evidence for this. That two independent people can be so close that their thinking becomes aligned is very mysterious, but does it echo the Mind of God? Perhaps so. Clearly such relationships must be harmonious, perhaps a description of love? Can it be explained in rational, scientific terms? Perhaps, but probably not too satisfactorily, with lots of ifs, buts or maybes. Could it be a reflection of the profound truth of the nature of God reflected in God’s creatures, namely us? All children carry their parents’ DNA; is there a case to be made that as human beings, made in God’s image according to Genesis 1:27, we carry God’s DNA? That would account for the human communication mystery mentioned above, and also help explain, to quote from popular songs, Love isn’t love ’till you give it away, and To love another person is see the Face of God. There is an essential element in all of these, that one isn’t enough; there has to be a community of at least two people. True love cannot exist in isolation. Hence the God of Love, 1 John 4:16, read last week, indicates community in some way, the mystery of the Trinity. Love cannot exist in isolation. So before time began, there was love. And we were loved into existence by that same loving God.
How God Loves the World, Glory Dy, Christianity.com
It seems, as a consequence, that Jesus, in giving us the supreme command to love one another (John 15:17), is calling us to be like God, to be God-like. Jesus is asking us to align ourselves as closely to God as it is possible to be. Love is the driving force of the Almighty, that which brought everything into existence and found it to be good. As God’s children, then, it is our task to live out our lives in ways that echo the life force which created us. To respect all life, to employ our talents in ways which build up and strengthen God’s creation and help and assist others to do the same. That will fulfill Jesus’ command in today’s gospel, assuring us that we do not do it alone: he will be with us at all times as our strength and assurance.
We’ll Walk Hand in Hand, Sojourners.
Reflections on next Sunday’s Mass Readings will be posted on Wednesday.
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