Lectionary Reflection for Holy Trinity Sunday, Year A
June 15, 2014
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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. Matthew 28:19-20a
Check out all those action verbs in this snippet of our gospel reading for Holy Trinity Sunday: “go,” “make,” baptizing,” and “teaching.” There is nothing passive or hesitant in Jesus’ commissioning of his disciples! We have work to do, and it doesn’t involve extended pew-sitting sessions or nervous navel-gazing.
Yes, we are all called to faith formation, to the work and witness of making disciples. But just how are Joe and Jane average Christian supposed to do that? Jesus packs a lot of responsibility and weight into one sentence! The task appears to be a daunting one, indeed.
First, remember that at this point in the story the early disciples are not all fully invested and on-board the faith formation train. Jesus shows up, and they meet him with doubt. He doesn’t chide them or reprimand them; instead he declares simply that he has been given all authority in heaven and on earth. The implicit message is that we act under his authority. We are covered by Jesus’ grace, love, and mercy. We are equipped by God in Christ’s name through the power of the Holy Spirit (not by our own authority and wisdom, thank goodness) to do this work of forming disciples.
This kingdom work requires us to put some “skin in the game.” Making disciples is not a “once and done” proposition. Our God is relational–as evidenced by the idea of the Trinity–and desires to be in relationship with us, which means we are to be in relationship with others so that they, too, may come to know and be in relationship with the Triune God.
Our work doesn’t stop at the font, either. Yes, we are commanded to baptize, but don’t forget that we are also called to teach and to model what it means to be a disciple. Once a body is wet, that’s when the life-long process of faith formation takes off in earnest. And we all play a part in one another’s faith formation, in the building up of the Body of Christ.
We are to teach one another, to open scripture together, and to model Jesus’ teachings about worship, justice, generosity, and faithfulness. Such lifelong learning, sharing, and mutual instruction is not option; it is part and parcel of what it means to be a Child of God and a “little Christ.”
The very good news about our commissioning is that no one is simply going to push us out of the plane to make our own way with a parachute and a prayer. Jesus promises that he will be with us always, even to the end of the age. The master teacher journeys with us and makes clear the path. The Holy Spirit is embedded within us, breathing with us and guiding us in thought, word, and deed. And God loves us deeply and without exception. This powerful and integral relationship model provides all that we need to carry out our mission–to make disciples, to follow Jesus, and to love God and neighbor. Blessings on the journey!
Photos: Faruk Ates, Richard Giles, and Prince of Peace Catholic Church, Creative Commons