TODAY’S GOSPEL [MATTHEW 28: 16 – 20] records the vital verses of the commissioning of the disciples. It also outlines the basic ministry of the Church. Forget these two foundational pillars and all is lost. In addition our Gospel extract includes Jesus’ clear proclamation of the Holy Trinity.

At once we must make a careful note of the very first element of both commissioning and ministry – MAKE DISCIPLES, no more and no less. The disciples were sent to make people accept Jesus Christ as Lord and to become his disciples, his followers. It is worth recalling, once again, that the original term used to describe new converts from Judaism was FOLLOWERS OF THE WAY. Our Gospel extract makes it clear that baptism is given to those who have become followers of the way! We do not baptise people to ‘make’ them disciples. Rather, baptism is the first ‘nourishment’ given so that a follower of the way may grow and develop to full maturity.

It is worthwhile accepting and understanding that infant baptism can only be justified in the context of a child belonging to a family of believing disciples. In other words the child will be reared within the supportive framework of those who are committed followers of the way. Baptism is NOT a magic wand. The basic ministry of the Church is not to make as many Roman Catholics as possible. It is to make disciples – followers of Jesus Christ and his way.

The reference to the basic justification for infant baptism, and the supportive framework provided for nurturing and growth, points to the basic need for an all-encompassing, supportive and personal faith-spiritual-human embrace. This is precisely what every baptised disciple is provided with by the Holy Trinity. Jesus instructed that baptism should be given and celebrated “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

In our Ascension reflection we adopted the idea that it was the feast of the multiplication of Jesus’ presence. [I should also add that Father Brett’s {Pastor here at St. Joseph} sermon on Holy Thursday made reference to the Lord’s embrace in the Eucharist] Today I suggest that our celebration of Trinity Sunday could also be named as the feast of God’s Embrace. As a direct and immediate consequence of baptism, all disciples, are enveloped in the DIVINE EMBRACE of our Christian God. This embrace nurtures and leads us to develop our commitment as disciples of Jesus and followers of his way. At baptism we do NOT cease to be disciples. Rather, our discipleship takes on an added urgency and enthusiasm.

It is the divine family of Father, Son and Holy Spirit which takes us under its wing and accompanies, encourages, consoles, affirms and forgives us in all the varying circumstances of living-out our discipleship. OUR FIRST READING [DEUTERONOMY 4: 32 – 34. 39 – 40] provides us with an insight to this embrace. Moses reminds the people that God has taken them for himself with mighty hand and outstretched arm. The patriarch goes on to say – “know therefore this day, and lay it in your heart” that the Lord is God, there is no other.

Make a careful reading of TODAY’S SECOND READING [ROMANS 8: 14 – 17] and you will discover a splendid overall view of the fact that indeed the Lord is God, there is no other! This extract from Romans outlines the reason God revealed himself to us – to tell us that “we are his children, the brothers and sisters of Christ and transformed by the power of his Spirit.” {ARMELLINI: Celebrating the Word (B): Paulines: Page 116}

This is the Christian God that embraces us at our baptisms and provides the support base in which, if wholeheartedly participated in, we are nurtured, encouraged, sustained and challenged. TODAY’S PSALM [33 or 32] speaks of a divine embrace which rescues us, keeps us alive, and which is our help and our shield.

However, we must bear in mind that family life depends on each and every member. We have to bear witness that we are members. This is the way we prolong our days in the land which the Lord our God gives us. (see First Reading)

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