Fr. Ver Bust's Column:|
"Explaining the Gospel"
|Fr. Richard Ver Bust
Commissioned to share the good news
Jesus sent forth the disciples to spread the good news of salvation
June 18, Holy Trinity
By Fr. Richard Ver Bust
All three readings used in today's liturgy describe the relationship of God to the community of
believers. Each emphasizes something different, yet all stress our intimate relationship with God.
They then tell us what subsequent responsibilities flow from this relationship. So as we celebrate
our communion in and with God on this Trinity Sunday let us examine what Scripture tells us
and what it challenges us to be and do.
The gospel is taken from the final chapter of Matthew and tells us that the disciples received a
commission from Jesus. Jesus is presented as reveling something of God to his disciples and of
course to us. Jesus gives to his disciples a mandate to go forth and spread the good news of
salvation. He transfers to his disciples his authority and tells them to take on his mission. Just as
he was sent by the Father so now Jesus sends forth his followers. This mission takes place in
preaching and baptizing others. He promises to be with them and his continued presence until the
end of time is a promise and a source of the Church's role. The disciples are bound into a circle
relationship with the Father and Jesus.
The final commission of Jesus to his disciples takes place on a mountain, a place of revelation
used frequently in scripture. It reminds us of Matthew's overall theme that Jesus continued the
work of Moses who received his revelation on Mt. Sinai. He portrayed Jesus as the Messiah and
his followers as fulfilling the mission of Israel to be a holy nation. Yet the mandate also tells
them to extend Jesus' ministry beyond Israel to all nations. They should preach and baptize in the
name of the Father, Son and Spirit. Notice while the word Trinity is not used and will not be for
many years, the role and equality of Father, Son and Spirit is captured in a few words.
Our first reading from the Book of Deuteronomy also tells of a call and the need for
responsibility. . Moses reminds the people of God of their call. Moses emphasizes the special and
unique relationship between God and the people of Israel. God has done wonderful things for
them by liberating and protecting them. The recall of these events should remind and challenge
them to fidelity to God. In turn they may expect God's continued guidance in the future. They
have known of the presence of God among them and heard the voice of God speaking to them
through these events. They must, therefore, live in faithful love, expected, because of their
intimate and profound relationship with God.
In his Letter to the Romans, Paul reflects on the wonderful gift God has given us in Christ. Christ in turn sent the Spirit that makes Christ's disciples children and heirs of God. The Spirit not only makes believers, sons and daughters of God, but enables them to cry out in loving confidence to God as their Abba, Father. He uses this Aramaic word for it conveys a deep intimacy with God.
It is used three times in scripture, in Mark14:36, Galatians 4:6 and here in Romans. Each time it tells us something about special relationship that Christ had with the Father and how he conveyed that intimacy to his disciples. Paul stresses that since we live in that relationship as coheirs with Christ it means we share not only in Christ's sufferings but also in his glory.
These scripture readings have clearly revealed to us that we have a special relationship with God and this feast of the Holy Trinity enables us to once more reflect on what it means and how we are formed by it. We can intimately relate to God and this relationship binds us all together. We too are commissioned by Christ to share that good news.
(Fr. Ver Bust is professor emeritus in religious studies at St. Norbert College, De Pere.)