Sunday, May 27, 2018

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

We hear today from the end of Matthew's Gospel, when Jesus tells his apostles to "make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."  This is the only place in the Gospels that we hear this expression.  And yet, we still use this today for baptism and when we make the sign of the cross.  It is at the very core of our Catholic faith and we celebrate this today at the solemn feast of the Holy Trinity.
Matthew tells us that when the eleven disciples saw the resurrected Jesus, they worshiped but they doubted.  I'll bet that Jesus would say the same thing about many of us today, we worship but we doubt.  We are here for Sunday mass because we were drawn by the Holy Spirit and maybe came out of habit.  But, we may be confused about some things that the Church teaches.   
It's OK to doubt.  All of us are searching; all of us are on the journey; and no one, including yours truly, has it all figured out.  And some things, like the trinity, we  just have to accept on faith.
Jesus gives us direction and reassurance in today's short Gospel.  These were some of His last words to the apostles before he ascended into heaven.  So, they are very important.
He said:  "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me."  If there were any doubt that Jesus was God before rising from the dead, there couldn't be any more.  He is all powerful.  We cannot even imagine how powerful he is.  Our human minds cannot grasp his power. 
Then, Jesus gave them their mission.  He says: "Go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."  This is the same mission that he gives to all of us.  And the tells them and us to "Teach them to observe all that I have commanded you."  So we aren't meant to do our own thing, but are to follow Jesus and to keep his commandments. And we are to teach others his commandments by our words and our actions.
Finally, Jesus gives them the promise that "I will be with you always, until the end of the age."  Shortly after Jesus makes this promise, he ascends into heaven.  I would expect that they were very confused by this.  How could Jesus tell them that he would be with them until the end of time and then leave them?   It is no wonder that they were fearful when the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost.  At Pentecost, after the Holy Spirit came on them as tongues of fire, it all became clear.  Jesus was with them through the Holy Spirit who will give them courage and wisdom.  He was with them through the Eucharist.  He was with them through His Church.  That day they would baptize 3000 and would teach the mystery of Christ's life, death, and resurrection to everyone. 
Thru baptism, we inherit Christ's promise to be with us until the end of time.  He is with us through the other sacraments which strengthen and sustain us during our earthly journey. 
The apostles understood the trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as well as their minds could understand it.  The apostles were committed to the mission that he gave them to make disciples of all nations.  They were unafraid and they were even willing to die in their missionary efforts. 
What about us?  Have we embraced this mission?  Have we talked about Jesus to our family and friends?  Do we even make the sign of the cross when we eat in public places?  If not, why not? 
If we find that we're still worshiping but doubting, we need to address our doubts.  Talk to a priest or a deacon about your doubts.  I'm sure that they will have heard them before. 
Our Church teaching is a blessing to us, not a burden.  After all, it comes from Jesus through the Holy Spirit.  Through it, we are meant to build his kingdom on earth and to follow him to his heavenly kingdom.  To better understand this teaching, refer to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Go to a good Catholic web site to learn more. has lots of good programs, videos, and audio tracks to help us learn our faith.  Come to a parish faith formation program.  You will find others on the same journey, maybe a few steps ahead or behind you.  We are all seeking the truth.  Fortunately, in our Catholic Church, we have the fullness of truth.  When you begin this journey to truth, you will find, as I have, that the more you learn about Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the more you will realize that you don't know, and you will yearn to learn more.
God bless