Solemnity of The Holy Trinity

trinity-icon-Military officers are commissioned; they are given specific authority to carry out the duties of their rank. Sales personnel might earn a commission; they are given a percentage of a sale over and above their regular salary. Etymologi¬cally, the word “commission” means to be “sent with.” So, someone commis¬sioned might be sent forth with authority and reaps the rewards of a task well done. This year the gospel for this Sunday concludes with what is sometimes called the “Great Commission.” No other gospel so explicitly refers to the three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity. We hear the very words of the baptismal formula we use today, and no doubt this gospel passage reflects the baptismal practice of the Matthean community some decades after the historical events of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension. The disciples are sent forth to “all nations” with the authority of Jesus and they reap the rewards of being faithful to Jesus’ command and having Jesus always with them.

In this gospel passage for the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Jesus commands the disciples to baptize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus reveals his undivided, divine relationship with the Father when he declares, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Baptism professes our faith in the Holy Trinity and celebrates our insertion into the intimate, relational life of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The depth and intimacy of God’s relationship with us leads to our own identity—“we are children of God” and “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ”. As children and heirs, we share in the identity of Christ and, therefore, of God. Moreover, we participate in God’s saving work because we share in the power and mission of Christ through the Spirit. To share in divine identity is to share in divine doing— we, too, are to do mighty deeds. To be formed into the identity of Christ, therefore, is to be formed into his mission.

The gospel rather succinctly and clearly lays out the mission with which Jesus charged the disciples (and us) before he ascended into heaven: make disciples, baptize in the name of the Trinity, teach, and observe “all that [Jesus] has commanded.” Jesus can entrust this mission to us because we share in his identity through the power of the Spirit. This identity is the fruit of our fidel¬ity. Has anything more wondrous or greater happened before?

Liturgy calls us together to ask, “Who is this God?” Knowing God isn’t something we can find out in the abstract; knowing God is sought and expressed in our own doing — in taking up Christ’s mission and living our own privileged identity as daughters and sons of God “until the end of the age.” Without doing as Jesus did, we cannot answer “Who is God?” This doing is nothing less than to “suffer with” Christ, which means a constant dying to self. By our own self-emptying are we filled with the divine identity, are faithful to our own baptismal identity, and continue the mission with which Jesus has entrusted us.