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Mission with the Trinity - Trust and Act

Jesus does not send us on a mission when everything is perfect and orderly, and when the team is complete, trained, and full of enthusiasm. We don't need to have a large army to answer His call. Life is never that organized. Let's pay attention to the obvious: we all have shortcomings in our lives that may seem disqualifying for service and mission.

The theme this week is the Trinity. The Psalmist expresses admiration for God, emphasizing His greatness and glory that encompasses the whole earth. In the Book of Genesis, the author describes the creation of the world, highlighting the power of the Creator and the perfection of His creation. In the Letter to the Corinthians, Paul encourages the Christian community to joy, mutual comfort, and peace, emphasizing the presence of God as the source of love and peace. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus gives His disciples a mission to proclaim the Gospel to all nations, authorizing them to teach and baptize in the name of the Holy Trinity.

Psalm 8:1-9 • Genesis 1:1-2:4a • 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 • Matthew 28:16-20

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV)

Today, on Trinity Sunday, we recall an important passage from the Gospel of Matthew in which Jesus entrusts us with the Great Commission. It's worth considering how the doctrine of the Trinity relates to our mission. Today's text provides an excellent opportunity for reflection. Do we worship God, who revealed Himself to us in three persons?

Let's start by clarifying the concept of mission. This word has multiple meanings. We are interested in its meaning in a religious context and the life of a Christian. In a religious context, mission refers to the commitment and service of the faithful who make efforts to spread and proclaim their faith and fulfill God's will. It is deeply rooted in the belief that faith is significant for individuals and communities and that it is worth sharing this belief with others.

In a religious context, mission can take various forms. It can involve teaching, both within formal church structures and through individual testimonies or ordinary conversations with neighbors. Mission can also involve social service, such as charitable work, helping the needy, caring for the poor, the sick, or refugees. Furthermore, mission can be expressed through evangelistic actions, actively proclaiming the Gospel, and sharing the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. Mission arises from the conviction that the internal transformation and salvation of an individual are closely linked to caring for others and spreading the values of faith. In this sense, mission is not just an individual task but also an expression of social responsibility and concern for the common good. It is connected to a deep conviction of the significance of faith for individual and community life. Therefore, efforts are made to influence others to experience and embrace this faith, which is considered precious and salvific. Mission becomes a way of sharing the joy of faith, supporting others in their spiritual growth, and striving for salvation. It is an expression of devotion to God and humanity and a desire to transmit spiritual gifts to others so they may discover, and experience God's love and the salvation offered through Jesus Christ. Now let's turn to the Gospel text and the sixteenth verse:

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. Matthew 28:16 (NIV)

Notice that each Gospel author concludes their account in a different way. Mark focuses on the empty tomb and the frightened witnesses. Luke ends with the ascension of Jesus, bridging into the second part of the Acts of the Apostles. John emphasizes how Jesus reveals Himself to the disciples. Matthew summarizes his account with the statement that Jesus instructs them to "go and teach all nations," proclaiming everything He commanded and baptizing. Additionally, Matthew emphasizes a new beginning. He speaks of the disciples returning to Galilee, the place where Jesus began His ministry. It is a strong emphasis on the fact that Jesus' mission does not end but starts anew from Galilee.

Notice that Jesus invites the disciples to a meeting "on the mountain." Although the mountain is not mentioned by name, Jewish readers would recognize the implications. Mountains were places where God revealed Himself. This was true during the Transfiguration (Matthew 17).

So, what is the point? We must first come to know God as He has revealed Himself before engaging in any mission or service in His name. Jesus leads us, you, and me, to meet Him "on the mountain." First, we should know and understand our identity as His followers, and then rely on His strength and grace. We should not separate the revelation of the Triune God from our efforts and involvement in mission. It must be synergistic. If we approach the mission without understanding who God is, as revealed in Jesus Christ, we risk reducing our missionary efforts to humanitarian projects or minor social activities. We will be relying on our own strength, separate from God. Thus, it will not be His mission but our individual effort, not the continuation of Jesus' mission. Yet, the essence is to baptize the nations and affirm God. Our mission should be the result of our faith.

If you have read the entire Book of Matthew, you'll notice a detail. We see only eleven disciples. This reminds us of the story of betrayal and abandonment, which still lingers in the minds of the remaining eleven. Despite this, they are called to a mission. In the same condition they are in.

Jesus doesn't send us on a mission when everything is perfect and orderly, and the team is complete, trained, and full of enthusiasm. We don't need a large army to respond to His call. Life is never that organized. Let's focus on the obvious: we all have shortcomings in our lives that may seem disqualifying for service and mission.

I believe it is not without reason that Matthew begins his summary by emphasizing that there were twelve and now there are eleven. Also, remember that Jesus called Matthew when he was a tax collector. If there were any disciples who felt unworthy, it would be Matthew. It is evident, therefore, that Jesus can remove or limit our shortcomings. He can call us in our imperfection and incomplete numbers. This mission belongs to Jesus, who goes with us as we are or improves our condition. He doesn't send us alone. It may be uncomfortable to work in an odd-numbered team. But it reminds us that Jesus' mission does not rest solely on our shoulders. We will always be too weak to lead the mission on our own and without support. Well, we are flawed biological organisms. Relying on Jesus is not only a choice of faith but also a sensible necessity.

Jesus takes on our baggage. The eleven disciples who struggled with the pain and shock of Judas' betrayal are called by Jesus to the mission. They may have had trust issues, thinking, "If Judas betrayed us, are others also traitors? Can we identify with them?" Often, we hesitate to engage in mission or service after experiencing failure, betrayal, or wounds. Such doubts are normal. In those moments, we must remember that Jesus is our reconciliation and mediator in all our relationships, even those that cannot be repaired in this life. Those eleven disciples must rely on Jesus when it comes to the baggage associated with Judas. We, too, should surrender our baggage to Him.

Matthew highlights another crucial point in the next verse: "When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted" (Matthew 28:17 NIV). The evangelist reminds us that doubts do not disqualify us from the mission. Although one person is missing, and some doubt, Jesus still calls them to the mountain and appoints them as His representatives. We should focus on what unites them—they all saw Jesus and worshiped Him. That is the driving force of the mission. To see Jesus. It is from there that worship and testimony emerge. Jesus comes to us from the other side of heaven. He has passed from death to resurrected life. Our doubts do not undermine His faith in the Father. It is His mission and faithfulness that lead us.

Matthew makes this completely clear in the next verse:

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." Matthew 28:18 (NIV)

See, it is Jesus who invites. He doesn't expect the disciples to come to Him on their own. The Messiah clarifies who will be responsible for continuing the mission. He assures them that He has full authority. He said this before giving them the task. He knows that He must remind them whose mission it is and, in whose name, it will be carried out. It is meant to strengthen and increase their faith in themselves.

Notice as well that Jesus speaks of authority as a gift. Just as the Father gave Him authority, we receive our commission from the Son. God is a God of grace. He is a giver. We can trust that His gifts are good for us and for others. The authority of Jesus does not resemble the authority of tyrants in Matthew's time or the ones we know today. Jesus uses His authority for our good. It is better for humans not to have full authority. History testifies to this. It is better that only God has full authority.

Now Matthew states the purpose of this mission:

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)

This passage begins with the words, "Therefore go." It is through Jesus, who possesses full authority, that we can embark on the mission. Our shortcomings and doubts do not disqualify us, nor do they determine the outcome. Because of this truth, we can boldly proclaim the Gospel to nations, even in the face of opposition. We are confident that Jesus has the final word.

Jesus places His command between the truth of His authority and the promise that He will be with the disciples until the end. We cannot perceive the mission as separate from Jesus. Acting apart from Him would imply seeking unauthorized power. It would be an attempt to achieve something for us, independent of the Father's will.

There is an obvious reason why this text was chosen for Trinity Sunday. The command to teach all nations is closely connected with abiding "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." This phrase indicates belonging. It is a new belonging, not to the father of this world, but to the Father of Jesus. This belonging is in the Spirit, not in the spirit of this age, but in the Holy Spirit. Being a disciple of Jesus means belonging to His Father in the Spirit. Disciples participate in everything that the Father and the Son do, and the Spirit is present in their shared life.

You don't have to go on a mission to Africa (unless God calls you to). Be in unity with Christ and participate in His life with the Father in the Spirit. Open yourself to His grace and listen to His voice. The doctrine of the Trinity explains that God is a God who bestows grace and numerous gifts. Let us receive these gifts and go forth to proclaim the good news. Jesus has saved us. It is such good news that it is worth sharing with others.

For the disobedient and undecided, I will remind you of the story of Balaam's donkey. This story can be found in Numbers chapters 22-24. Initially, Balaam did not want to listen to God and disregarded His message. So, God used a donkey. When Balaam realized that the donkey was being used by God as an instrument, he repented and changed his attitude. It is good to lead a life in which the merciful God does not need to correct us through a donkey, or through stones and fire.

In contemporary life, it is important to be open to learning. Be willing to admit mistakes and change our beliefs and attitudes when we receive valuable guidance. In our busy and distracted lives, let us remember to be mindful of signs, to have respect for other beings, to maintain spiritual awareness, and to be humble in the face of learning. Let us seek God's signposts.

May God bless us and guide us in our efforts to live according to His will and proclaim the Gospel of love and salvation. Amen.


 

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