“And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
PRAYER OF THE WEEK
Prayer of Thanks
O eternal God! Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; the beginning and end of all things; in whom we live and move and have our being; prostrate before Thee in body and soul, I adore Thee. I bless Thee and give Thee thanks. What return can I make to Thee, O God, for all that Thou hast done for me? I will bless Thy Holy Name, and serve Thee all the days of my life. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and let all that is within me bless His Holy Name. Amen.
God our Father, who by sending into the world
the Word of truth and the Spirit of sanctification
made known to the human race your wondrous mystery,
grant us, we pray, that in professing the true faith,
we may acknowledge the Trinity of eternal glory
and adore your Unity, powerful in majesty.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity
of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Dt 4:32-34, 39-40
Moses said to the people:
“Ask now of the days of old, before your time,
ever since God created man upon the earth;
ask from one end of the sky to the other:
Did anything so great ever happen before?
Was it ever heard of?
Did a people ever hear the voice of God
speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live?
Or did any god venture to go and take a nation for himself
from the midst of another nation,
by testings, by signs and wonders, by war,
with strong hand and outstretched arm, and by great terrors,
all of which the LORD, your God,
did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?
This is why you must now know,
and fix in your heart, that the LORD is God
in the heavens above and on earth below,
and that there is no other.
You must keep his statutes and commandments that I enjoin on you today,
that you and your children after you may prosper,
and that you may have long life on the land
which the LORD, your God, is giving you forever.”
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH – CCC
CCC 708 This divine pedagogy appears especially in the gift of the Law.1 God gave the Law as a “pedagogue” to lead his people toward Christ.2 But the Law’s powerlessness to save man deprived of the divine “likeness,” along with the growing awareness of sin that it imparts,3 enkindles a desire for the Holy Spirit. The lamentations of the Psalms bear witness to this.
1 Cf. Ex 19-20; Deut 1-11; 29-30.
2 Gal 3:24.
3 Cf. Rom 3:20.
The mystery of the Blessed Trinity was not revealed in the Old Testament because God saw that his Chosen People were not yet ready to accept such a mystery. Living, as they were, surrounded by adorers of many gods, any knowledge of the Trinity of persons in the one God, might have weakened their monotheism. It was only when Christ came on earth claiming (and proving his claim) that he was the divine Son of God, and promising to send the Consoler, a third Person in God, to strengthen and guide his disciples that this doctrine was fully revealed. It was accepted without question from the very first days of the Christian Church, first of all because it was Christ who revealed it, and, secondly, because it was felt that the Church had proof of the existence of three distinct Persons in the one God in that each of them played a part in the founding and spreading of Christianity. The Father sent his Son on earth in human form, and raised him from the dead when he had carried out his Father’s will. The Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit to direct and govern the Church founded by the Son.
While we admit the fact that there are three distinct Persons in the one God and have valid reasons for doing so, we still do not understand how this is. Of course, if God could be fully understood by our finite minds, he would not be God, but a limited being like ourselves. Let us be content today to say how privileged we are to know of this doctrine and even more so to know that each of the three divine Persons has played a part in giving us a share in their life. When we get to heaven we shall see and understand it all more clearly with the added light of the Beatific Vision, which will be given to our glorified bodies.
In today’s reading from the book of Deuteronomy we see how privileged the Chosen People of Israel were, how wonderful God had been in his dealings with them, and how all he asked for in return was that they should keep his commandments. These were for their own good. Sad to relate, they did not keep his laws! They quickly forgot all that he had done for them and turned to adore lifeless idols, pagan “gods” who could not help either themselves or anyone else. This was ingratitude and meanness of a high order, but let us remember that everything that God did for the Jews, he did for us too. Through his dealings with them he was preparing the way for the incarnation.
Do we return due thanks to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for this immensely greater love? Before we criticize or judge the Jews of old, let us see if our own consciences are in order before God. We owe him obedience for far weightier reasons than the Jews had. He set them free from the slavery of Egypt; he has set us free from Satan’s power. He gave them Canaan as their homeland; he has prepared heaven, the place of unending life, for us. He made Moses, one of themselves, the mediator between himself and the Israelites; he has given his own Son to be our mediator. In return for it all and as a token repayment, we are asked to keep his commandments!
God is surely not asking too much of us. Any generous Christian would not only do this, he would look for further means of showing his gratitude to the Blessed Trinity. All the saints did so and earned the honor of God and the respect of man. We all want to be saints. Let us begin today not merely to keep the commandments but also to do some extra bit each day to show our sincere gratitude to God. God will never be outdone in generosity.
Ps 33:4-5, 6, 9, 18-19, 20, 22
Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the Lord the earth is full.
Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made;
by the breath of his mouth all their host.
For he spoke, and it was made;
he commanded, and it stood forth.
Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
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.
Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own..
Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you.
Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Brothers and sisters:
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you received a Spirit of adoption,
through whom we cry, “Abba, Father!”
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit
that we are children of God,
and if children, then heirs,
heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,
if only we suffer with him
so that we may also be glorified with him.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH – CCC
CCC 257 “O blessed light, O Trinity and first Unity!”1 God is eternal blessedness, undying life, unfading light. God is love: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God freely wills to communicate the glory of his blessed life. Such is the “plan of his loving kindness”, conceived by the Father before the foundation of the world, in his beloved Son: “He destined us in love to be his sons” and “to be conformed to the image of his Son”, through “the spirit of sonship”.2 This plan is a “grace [which] was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began”, stemming immediately from Trinitarian love.3 It unfolds in the work of creation, the whole history of salvation after the fall, and the missions of the Son and the Spirit, which are continued in the mission of the Church.4
CCC 259 Being a work at once common and personal, the whole divine economy makes known both what is proper to the divine persons, and their one divine nature. Hence the whole Christian life is a communion with each of the divine persons, without in any way separating them. Everyone who glorifies the Father does so through the Son in the Holy Spirit; everyone who follows Christ does so because the Father draws him and the Spirit moves him.5
CCC 693 Besides the proper name of “Holy Spirit,” which is most frequently used in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles, we also find in St. Paul the titles: the Spirit of the promise,6 the Spirit of adoption,7 the Spirit of Christ,8 the Spirit of the Lord,9 and the Spirit of God10 – and, in St. Peter, the Spirit of glory.11
CCC 793 Christ unites us with his Passover: all his members must strive to resemble him, “until Christ be formed” in them.12 “For this reason we. .. are taken up into the mysteries of his life,. .. associated with his sufferings as the body with its head, suffering with him, that with him we may be glorified.”13
CCC 1265 Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte “a new creature,” an adopted son of God, who has become a “partaker of the divine nature,”14 member of Christ and co-heir with him,15 and a temple of the Holy Spirit.16
CCC 1302 It is evident from its celebration that the effect of the sacrament of Confirmation is the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost.
CCC 1460 The penance the confessor imposes must take into account the penitent’s personal situation and must seek his spiritual good. It must correspond as far as possible with the gravity and nature of the sins committed. It can consist of prayer, an offering, works of mercy, service of neighbor, voluntary self-denial, sacrifices, and above all the patient acceptance of the cross we must bear. Such penances help configure us to Christ, who alone expiated our sins once for all. They allow us to become co-heirs with the risen Christ, “provided we suffer with him.”17
The satisfaction that we make for our sins, however, is not so much ours as though it were not done through Jesus Christ. We who can do nothing ourselves, as if just by ourselves, can do all things with the cooperation of “him who strengthens” us. Thus man has nothing of which to boast, but all our boasting is in Christ. .. in whom we make satisfaction by bringing forth “fruits that befit repentance.” These fruits have their efficacy from him, by him they are offered to the Father, and through him they are accepted by the Father.18
CCC 1499 “By the sacred anointing of the sick and the prayer of the priests the whole Church commends those who are ill to the suffering and glorified Lord, that he may raise them up and save them. And indeed she exhorts them to contribute to the good of the People of God by freely uniting themselves to the Passion and death of Christ.”19
CCC 1831 The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David.20 They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations.
Let your good spirit lead me on a level path.21
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. .. If children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.22
CCC 1972 The New Law is called a law of love because it makes us act out of the love infused by the Holy Spirit, rather than from fear; a law of grace, because it confers the strength of grace to act, by means of faith and the sacraments; a law of freedom, because it sets us free from the ritual and juridical observances of the Old Law, inclines us to act spontaneously by the prompting of charity and, finally, lets us pass from the condition of a servant who “does not know what his master is doing” to that of a friend of Christ – “For all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” – or even to the status of son and heir.23
CCC 1996 Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.24
CCC 2543 “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.”25 Henceforth, Christ’s faithful “have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires”; they are led by the Spirit and follow the desires of the Spirit.26
CCC 2572 As a final stage in the purification of his faith, Abraham, “who had received the promises,”27 is asked to sacrifice the son God had given him. Abraham’s faith does not weaken (“God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering.”), for he “considered that God was able to raise men even from the dead.”28 And so the father of believers is conformed to the likeness of the Father who will not spare his own Son but will deliver him up for us all.29 Prayer restores man to God’s likeness and enables him to share in the power of God’s love that saves the multitude.30
CCC 2639 Praise is the form of prayer which recognizes most immediately that God is God. It lauds God for his own sake and gives him glory, quite beyond what he does, but simply because HE IS. It shares in the blessed happiness of the pure of heart who love God in faith before seeing him in glory. By praise, the Spirit is joined to our spirits to bear witness that we are children of God,31 testifying to the only Son in whom we are adopted and by whom we glorify the Father. Praise embraces the other forms of prayer and carries them toward him who is its source and goal: the “one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist.”32
1 LH, Hymn for Evening Prayer.
2 Eph 1:4-5,9; Rom 8:15,29.
3 2 Tim 1:9-10.
4 Cf. AG 2-9.
5 Cf. Jn 6:44; Rom 8:14.
6 Cf. Gal 3:14; Eph 1:13.
7 Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6.
8 Rom 8:9.
9 2 Cor 3:17.
10 Rom 8:9, 14; 15:19; 1 Cor 6:11; 7:40.
11 1 Pet 4:14.
12 Gal 4:19.
13 LG 7 # 4; cf. Phil 3:21; Rom 8:17.
14 2 Cor 5:17; 2 Pet 1:4; cf. Gal 4:5-7.
15 Cf. l Cor 6:15; 12:27; Rom 8:17.
16 Cf. l Cor 6:19.
17 Rom 8:17; Rom 3:25; 1 Jn 2:1-2; cf. Council of Trent (1551): DS 1690.
18 Council of Trent (1551): DS 1691; cf. Phil 4:13; 1 Cor 1:31; 2 Cor 10:17; Gal 6:14; Lk 3:8.
19 LG 11; cf. Jas 5:14-16; Rom 8:17; Col 1:24; 2 Tim 2:11-12; 1 Pet 4:13.
20 Cf. Isa 11:1-2.
21 PS 143:10.
22 Rom 8:14, 17.
23 Jn 15:15; cf. Jas 1:25; 2:12; Gal 4:1-7.21-31; Rom 8:15.
24 Cf. Jn 1:12-18; 17:3; Rom 8:14-17; 2 Pet 1:3-4.
25 Rom 3:21-22.
26 Gal 5:24; cf. Rom 8:14, 27.
27 Heb 11:17.
28 Gen 22:8; Heb 11:19
29 Rom 8:32.
30 Cf. Rom 8:16-21.
31 Cf. Rom 8:16.
32 1 Cor 8:6.
About the year 57-58 that is to say, less than thirty years after the resurrection, St. Paul wrote this letter to the Christians in Rome. It was a church he was very anxious to visit (he had had nothing to do with the spread of the faith there). The Roman Christian community was made up of Jew and Gentile converts. It is evident from St. Paul’s words that they were quite familiar with the doctrine of the three divine Persons in one God. We know, of course, that they had received baptism in the name of the Blessed Trinity. Therefore, they had accepted the fact about the true God before becoming Christians. To do this was not, humanly speaking, easy for a Jew or a Gentile, but we must remember that the early Christians did not rely on human logic or human thinking. The grace and the power of God was with them in generous measure.
For a Jew, the very essence of whose religion was strict monotheism, there was one God and one God only. The three Persons must at first mention have sounded like many gods, something abhorrent to his nature. Yet, thousands of Jews accepted this doctrine from the very first days of the Church (all the first Christians were Jewish converts). They were convinced that God, although he was strictly one God, had revealed that there were three Persons in that one divine nature. If God revealed this knowledge of his innermost nature and if it did not contradict the unity, the oneness of God, how could they refuse to accept this revelation? For the Gentiles also, this doctrine must at first sight have seemed a stumbling block. They were sick and tired of their own pagan gods. Was Christianity offering them three instead of many gods? Again, aided by God’s grace, they realized that Christianity was not preaching three Gods but three Persons who in some mysterious way are in the one and only God.
We Christians of today are no more advanced than the early Jew and Gentile converts were as regards the mysteries of faith. We cannot examine the Godhead scientifically, and prove to ourselves from cold logic that there are three Persons in God. But like them, we too know that we have the word of God for it and God is the God of truth. His word is stronger and more convincing than any human proof or logic can ever be. Like the early Christians, we also have had the experience of the three Persons, each performing a distinct role in the work of our salvation. The Father created us and planned an eternal life for us. He sent the Son to enable us to fill the role his Father had planned for us. After the Son’s ascension, both the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit to sanctify, give courage and strength to the Apostles and those who would join them.
This threefold activity is still going on in the life of each one of us–the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity are cooperating to bring us to heaven. Why? We may well ask. The Blessed Trinity is infinitely perfect, infinitely happy in heaven. God needs nothing from us. Here again is where our small, finite intelligence fails us. We can understand human love and human generosity which at their greatest are but temporary, passing things and of necessity very limited in quality and quantity. But God’s love for us is infinite. It is completely and entirely without self-interest. God does not act out of need but out of nature. His very nature is goodness and so he is moved by that nature to share his goodness, his happiness with those who are able to appreciate it, that is, with us men.
It has been very clearly and very definitely revealed to us that God loves us with an infinite love. This is the basic message of the New Testament. The three Persons of the Blessed Trinity are still proving this fact to us. In this life we cannot understand why, but we can and we must show our gratitude for this fact of divine generosity and love.
Today, on this special feastday of the Blessed Trinity, let us resolve to make ourselves less unworthy of their divine love: by doing what is asked of us, by living our faith in charity, and by keeping ever before our minds the eternal future that awaits us. The day is not far off when, please God, we shall meet the Blessed Trinity face to face. Then we shall understand a lot more about the three divine Persons in God, and the infinite love and mercy shown to us by these three Persons.
The eleven disciples went to Galilee,
to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they all saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.
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,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH – CCC
CCC 2 So that this call should resound throughout the world, Christ sent forth the apostles he had chosen, commissioning them to proclaim the gospel: “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 lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”1 Strengthened by this mission, the apostles “went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it.”2
CCC 75 “Christ the Lord, in whom the entire Revelation of the most high God is summed up, commanded the apostles to preach the Gospel, which had been promised beforehand by the prophets, and which he fulfilled in his own person and promulgated with his own lips. In preaching the Gospel, they were to communicate the gifts of God to all men. This Gospel was to be the source of all saving truth and moral discipline.”3
CCC 80 “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together, and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing, and move towards the same goal.”4 Each of them makes present and fruitful in the Church the mystery of Christ, who promised to remain with his own “always, to the close of the age”.5
CCC 189 The first “profession of faith” is made during Baptism. The symbol of faith is first and foremost the baptismal creed. Since Baptism is given “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”,6 the truths of faith professed during Baptism are articulated in terms of their reference to the three persons of the Holy Trinity.
CCC 232 Christians are baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”7 Before receiving the sacrament, they respond to a three-part question when asked to confess the Father, the Son and the Spirit: “I do.” “The faith of all Christians rests on the Trinity.”8
CCC 543 Everyone is called to enter the kingdom. First announced to the children of Israel, this messianic kingdom is intended to accept men of all nations.9 To enter it, one must first accept Jesus’ word:
The word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field; those who hear it with faith and are numbered among the little flock of Christ have truly received the kingdom. Then, by its own power, the seed sprouts and grows until the harvest.10
CCC 644 Even when faced with the reality of the risen Jesus the disciples are still doubtful, so impossible did the thing seem: they thought they were seeing a ghost. “In their joy they were still disbelieving and still wondering.”11 Thomas will also experience the test of doubt and St. Matthew relates that during the risen Lord’s last appearance in Galilee “some doubted.”12 Therefore the hypothesis that the Resurrection was produced by the apostles’ faith (or credulity) will not hold up. On the contrary their faith in the Resurrection was born, under the action of divine grace, from their direct experience of the reality of the risen Jesus.
CCC 645 By means of touch and the sharing of a meal, the risen Jesus establishes direct contact with his disciples. He invites them in this way to recognize that he is not a ghost and above all to verify that the risen body in which he appears to them is the same body that had been tortured and crucified, for it still bears the traces of his Passion.13 Yet at the same time this authentic, real body possesses the new properties of a glorious body: not limited by space and time but able to be present how and when he wills; for Christ’s humanity can no longer be confined to earth, and belongs henceforth only to the Father’s divine realm.14 For this reason too the risen Jesus enjoys the sovereign freedom of appearing as he wishes: in the guise of a gardener or in other forms familiar to his disciples, precisely to awaken their faith.15
CCC 691 “Holy Spirit” is the proper name of the one whom we adore and glorify with the Father and the Son. The Church has received this name from the Lord and professes it in the Baptism of her new children.16
The term “Spirit” translates the Hebrew word ruah, which, in its primary sense, means breath, air, wind. Jesus indeed uses the sensory image of the wind to suggest to Nicodemus the transcendent newness of him who is personally God’s breath, the divine Spirit.17 On the other hand, “Spirit” and “Holy” are divine attributes common to the three divine persons. By joining the two terms, Scripture, liturgy, and theological language designate the inexpressible person of the Holy Spirit, without any possible equivocation with other uses of the terms “spirit” and “holy.”
CCC 730 At last Jesus’ hour arrives:18 he commends his spirit into the Father’s hands19 at the very moment when by his death he conquers death, so that, “raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,”20 he might immediately give the Holy Spirit by “breathing” on his disciples.21 From this hour onward, the mission of Christ and the Spirit becomes the mission of the Church: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.”22
CCC 767 “When the work which the Father gave the Son to do on earth was accomplished, the Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost in order that he might continually sanctify the Church.”23 Then “the Church was openly displayed to the crowds and the spread of the Gospel among the nations, through preaching, was begun.”24 As the “convocation” of all men for salvation, the Church in her very nature is missionary, sent by Christ to all the nations to make disciples of them.25
CCC 788 When his visible presence was taken from them, Jesus did not leave his disciples orphans. He promised to remain with them until the end of time; he sent them his Spirit.26 As a result communion with Jesus has become, in a way, more intense: “By communicating his Spirit, Christ mystically constitutes as his body those brothers of his who are called together from every nation.”27
CCC 831 Secondly, the Church is catholic because she has been sent out by Christ on a mission to the whole of the human race:28
All men are called to belong to the new People of God. This People, therefore, while remaining one and only one, is to be spread throughout the whole world and to all ages in order that the design of God’s will may be fulfilled: he made human nature one in the beginning and has decreed that all his children who were scattered should be finally gathered together as one. .. The character of universality which adorns the People of God is a gift from the Lord himself whereby the Catholic Church ceaselessly and efficaciously seeks for the return of all humanity and all its goods, under Christ the Head in the unity of his Spirit.29
CCC 849 The missionary mandate. “Having been divinely sent to the nations that she might be ‘the universal sacrament of salvation,’ the Church, in obedience to the command of her founder and because it is demanded by her own essential universality, strives to preach the Gospel to all men”:30 “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 Lo, I am with you always, until the close of the age.”31
CCC 857 The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the apostles, in three ways:
– she was and remains built on “the foundation of the Apostles,”32 the witnesses chosen and sent on mission by Christ himself;33
– with the help of the Spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching,34 the “good deposit,” the salutary words she has heard from the apostles;35
– she continues to be taught, sanctified, and guided by the apostles until Christ’s return, through their successors in pastoral office: the college of bishops, “assisted by priests, in union with the successor of Peter, the Church’s supreme pastor”:36
You are the eternal Shepherd
who never leaves his flock untended.
Through the apostles
you watch over us and protect us always.
You made them shepherds of the flock
to share in the work of your Son. ..37
CCC 860 In the office of the apostles there is one aspect that cannot be transmitted: to be the chosen witnesses of the Lord’s Resurrection and so the foundation stones of the Church. But their office also has a permanent aspect. Christ promised to remain with them always. The divine mission entrusted by Jesus to them “will continue to the end of time, since the Gospel they handed on is the lasting source of all life for the Church. Therefore,. .. the apostles took care to appoint successors.”38
CCC 1120 The ordained ministry or ministerial priesthood is at the service of the baptismal priesthood.39 The ordained priesthood guarantees that it really is Christ who acts in the sacraments through the Holy Spirit for the Church. The saving mission entrusted by the Father to his incarnate Son was committed to the apostles and through them to their successors: they receive the Spirit of Jesus to act in his name and in his person.40 The ordained minister is the sacramental bond that ties the liturgical action to what the apostles said and did and, through them, to the words and actions of Christ, the source and foundation of the sacraments.
CCC 1122 Christ sent his apostles so that “repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations.”41 “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.”42 The mission to baptize, and so the sacramental mission, is implied in the mission to evangelize, because the sacrament is prepared for by the word of God and by the faith which is assent to this word:
The People of God is formed into one in the first place by the Word of the living God. .. The preaching of the Word is required for the sacramental ministry itself, since the sacraments are sacraments of faith, drawing their origin and nourishment from the Word.43
CCC 1223 All the Old Covenant prefigurations find their fulfillment in Christ Jesus. He begins his public life after having himself baptized by St. John the Baptist in the Jordan.44 After his resurrection Christ gives this mission to his apostles: “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.”45
CCC 1257 The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation.46 He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them.47 Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament.48 The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are “reborn of water and the Spirit.” God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.
CCC 1444 In imparting to his apostles his own power to forgive sins the Lord also gives them the authority to reconcile sinners with the Church. This ecclesial dimension of their task is expressed most notably in Christ’s solemn words to Simon Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”49 “The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of the apostles united to its head.”50
CCC 2156 The sacrament of Baptism is conferred “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”51 In Baptism, the Lord’s name sanctifies man, and the Christian receives his name in the Church. This can be the name of a saint, that is, of a disciple who has lived a life of exemplary fidelity to the Lord. The patron saint provides a model of charity; we are assured of his intercession. The “baptismal name” can also express a Christian mystery or Christian virtue. “Parents, sponsors, and the pastor are to see that a name is not given which is foreign to Christian sentiment.”52
CCC 2743 It is always possible to pray: The time of the Christian is that of the risen Christ who is with us always, no matter what tempests may arise.53 Our time is in the hands of God:
It is possible to offer fervent prayer even while walking in public or strolling alone, or seated in your shop,. .. while buying or selling,. .. or even while cooking.54
1 Mt 28:19-20.
2 Mk 16:20.
3 DV 7; cf. Mt 28:19-20; Mk 16:15.
4 DV 9.
5 Mt 28:20.
6 Mt 28:19.
7 Mt 28:19.
8 St. Caesarius of Arles, Sermo 9, Exp. symb.:CCL 103,47.
9 Cf. Mt 8:11 10:5-7; 28:19.
10 LC 5; cf. Mk 4:14, 26-29; Lk 12:32.
11 Lk 24:38-41.
12 Cf Jn 20:24-27; Mt 28:17.
13 Cf. Lk 24:30,39-40, 41-43; Jn 20:20, 27; 21:9,13-15.
14 Cf. Mt 28:9, 16-17; Lk 24:15, 36; Jn 20:14, 17, 19, 26; 21:4.
15 Cf. Mk 16:12; Jn 20:14-16; 21:4, 7.
16 Cf. Mt 28:19.
17 In 3:5-8.
18 Cf. Jn 13:1; 17:1.
19 Cf. Lk 23:46; Jn 19:30.
20 Rom 6:4.
21 Cf. Jn 20:22.
22 Jn 20:21; cf. Mt 28:19; Lk 24:47-48; Acts 1:8.
23 LG 4; cf. Jn 17:4.
24 AG 4.
25 Cf. Mt 28:19-20; AG 2; 5-6.
26 Cf. Jn 14:18; 20:22; Mt 28:20; Acts 2:33.
27 LG 7.
28 Cf. Mt 28:19.
29 LG 13 §§ 1-2; cf. Jn 11:52.
30 AG 1; cf. Mt 16:15.
31 Mt 28:19-20.
32 Eph 2:20; Rev 21:14.
33 Cf. Mt 28:16-20; Acts 1:8; 1 Cor 9:1; 15:7-8; Gal 1:1; etc.
34 Cf. Acts 2:42.
35 Cf. 2 Tim 1:13-14.
36 AG 5.
37 Roman Missal, Preface of the Apostles I.
38 LG 20; cf. Mt 28:20.
39 Cf. LG 10 # 2.
40 Cf. Jn 20:21-23; Lk 24:47; Mt 28:18-20.
41 Lk 24:47.
42 Mt 28:19.
43 PO 4 ## 1, 2.
44 Cf. Mt 3:13.
45 Mt 28:19-20; cf. Mk 16:15-16.
46 Cf. Jn 3:5.
47 Cf. Mt 28:19-20; cf. Council of Trent (1547) DS 1618; LG 14; AG 5.
48 Cf. Mk 16:16.
49 Mt 16:19; cf. Mt 18:18; 28:16-20.
50 LG 22 # 2.
51 Mt 28:19.
52 CIC, Can. 855.
53 Cf. Mt 28:20; Lk 8:2.4.
54 St. John Chrysostom, Ecloga de oratione 2: PG 63, 585.
The reason why these five verses, that conclude the final chapter of St. Matthew’s gospel, were chosen for today’s Mass is evident. The three Persons of the Blessed Trinity are mentioned by name in this Gospel.
All those who would enter the new kingdom of God, the Church, were to be dedicated in the ceremony of baptism to the Blessed Trinity; they were to enter into a fellowship with the three divine Persons. Whether Christ himself gave the exact words for the form of baptism does not concern us here, but from 2 Cor. 2: 21, it would appear that this form was in use from the earliest days of the Church. We are aware that we ourselves were dedicated to God in our baptism and destined to have an eternal fellowship with the Trinity in heaven. We are aware, too, of the part played by the three divine Persons in making that eternal happiness and friendship with the Trinity available to us. While the essence of the Trinity, or the way in which there can be three Persons in the one God, is a mystery which our limited minds cannot even begin to solve, we have no hesitation in accepting the existence of this deepest mystery of our religion. It was no less an authority than Jesus Christ himself who revealed it to us. With his guarantee for its truth, we are left in no doubt as to the existence of this mystery. We can safely wait for a greater, if not a complete understanding in heaven.
Today, as we honor the Blessed Trinity, our predominant thought must be one of gratitude to each of the three Persons for all they have done and are still doing for us. First, to God the Father, who in his love planned not only our creation as intelligent human beings, the highest and noblest of his creatures on earth, but planned to give us adopted sonship as well. Secondly, let us show our deepest gratitude to the all-obedient, all-loving Son of God, who carried out to the letter the divine Father’s plan for our adoption, by sharing with us our humanity so that we could share in his divinity. Thirdly, let us be eternally grateful to the Holy Spirit–the fruit of the love of Father and Son–who has come to dwell in the Church and in each member of the Church, in order to fill our hearts with a true love of God, and to direct our faltering steps toward the everlasting happiness which awaits us beyond the grave.
We know only too well how unworthy we are of this love of the Blessed Trinity which has been poured out on us. The greatest saints were unworthy of this infinite love. Our unworthiness should not, and must not, stop us from availing ourselves of this divine love and from doing what we can to prove how we value and sincerely appreciate the love and goodness of the Blessed Trinity for us. In return for this love, Christ asked us, his followers, to keep his commandments. This is the one genuine proof we can give of our gratitude for all that these three Persons have done for us.
We are so weak that we often let the passing things of this world turn our thoughts and actions away from God and from our own eternal interests. We forget Christ and his commandments at times and let the world rule our hearts and minds. However, even for sinners like us there is hope and encouragement in the infinity of God’s love. Let us not forget it: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit know all our weaknesses, they knew them before they arranged to make us sharers in their own eternal happiness. They know, also, that those of us who try and try again to rise above our human weakness will finally share with them their heaven.
This possibility is open to all of us. The Blessed Trinity will exclude nobody from heaven. If some fail, the fault will be entirely and completely their own. May God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit grant us the courage and strength to overcome our human weaknesses! May they give us the grace to live and die in their love so that we may share their eternal kingdom of happiness!
Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan OFM and used with permission from Franciscan Press.
The Sustaining Force of the Blessed Trinity
The Spirit does not speak, as it were, from himself, but is a listening to and a making clear of the Son, who in turn does not speak on his authority, but is, as the one sent by the Father, his distinct presence. The Father also gives himself to the Son so completely that everything that he has belongs to the Son. Each of the three Persons of the Trinity points to the other two. In this circle of love flowing and intermingling, there is the highest degree of constancy to everything that exists… What sustains us is the movement of the heart and spirit that leaves itself and is on the way to the other… It is only if each Christian makes his whole being available to the Word in the passage of time that time can as a whole be open to Christ… The Trinity, then, provides us with the means by which both the individual and the community of the Church can disentangle the confusion of time. We shall not solve the problems that trouble us today by theorizing, but by spiritual means, my entering, in other words, into the form of the Trinity… The selflessness of those who bear witness to Christ gives authenticity to the Church, just as Christ’s selflessness bore authentic testimony to himself and to the Spirit. It is in this way that a living interrelationship can develop, that growth can come about and that we can be led into the fullness of truth, a truth that is richer and greater than anything that we can invent.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Petition to the Holy Trinity
Most Holy Trinity, Godhead indivisible, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, our first beginning and our last end, since Thou hast made us after Thine own image and likeness, grant that all the thoughts of our minds, all the words of our tongues, all the affections of our hearts and all our actions may be always conformed to Thy most holy will, to the end that after having seen Thee here below in appearances and by means of faith, we may come at last to contemplate Thee face-to-face in the perfect possession of Thee forever in paradise. Amen.