The Spirit and the Great CommissioningHome > Fr_Thomas > The Spirit and the Great Commissioning
In today’s gospel, Jesus exhorts the apostles to “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.” This passage has traditionally been known as the Great Commissioning, as it is the mission of the Church at every time and age, making disciples among the various “nations” of which the Church evangelizes. When one considers that now the Roman Catholic faith exists on every continent and its numbers exceed 1 billion, over the centuries the Church has sought to remain faithful to this commission. As long as we continue to “make” disciples, the Trinity lives amongst us. Making disciples is not like baking cookies or manufacturing cars. Making disciples requires a willing person, the movement of the Spirit and the opportunity. I truly believe that there would be more Catholics if more of us asked our friends and relatives to come to Mass with us. If we were excited about our faith, they would be too. Certainly, discipleship in Jesus emanates from the Spirit. As St. Paul writes, “No one can say Jesus is Lord except in the Spirit” (I Cor.).
In St. Augustine’s treatise on the Trinity, he states:
“All those Catholic expounders of the Divine Scriptures, both Old and New, whom I have been able to read, who have written before me concerning the Trinity, Who is God, have purposed to teach, according to the Scriptures, this doctrine, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit intimate a divine unity of one and the same substance in an indivisible equality; and therefore that they are not three Gods, but one God: although the Father has begotten the Son, and so He who is the Father is not the Son; and the Son is begotten by the Father, and so He who is the Son is not the Father; and the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son, but only the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, Himself also co-equal with the Father and the Son, and pertaining to the unity of the Trinity.”
I’m sure that makes perfect sense to all of us! In faith, we embrace a reality that we can never truly know nor understand. Paraphrasing Augustine, if you understand the Trinity at all, it is by grace (faith). We are baptized in the Trinitarian formula and we make disciples in the name of the Trinity, and yet, it still remains beyond most of us and our ability to comprehend.
So what does it mean for us that we “baptize” and “make” disciples to a Triune God who sounds very complex? The answer, I believe, comes to us in that the Trinity is a relationship of three divine persons. They only exist in this entwined relationship. They cannot exist apart from it. As Roman Catholics, we only exist spiritually in the same way. Unless we remain part of that relationship in the community of the Church, we cease to be Trinitarian. Ours is a communal faith. Just as the Trinity encompasses a community of persons, so does the Church. You are not me …and I am not you. And yet, we are bound by the Trinity. This is our faith. This is the faith of the Church. We are proud to profess it in Christ Jesus.