Trinity Sunday, Year A
- Anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself (1 Cor. 11:29)
Reads in part a commentary on Jn. 14:8-21 (cf. InterVarsity Press at www.biblegateway.com):
- Praying “in Jesus’ name” does not refer to some magic formula added to the
- end of a prayer. It means to pray in keeping with his character and concerns
- and, indeed, in union with him. The disciples, through their union with Christ,
- are taken up into his agenda. This agenda, as throughout his ministry, is to
- bring glory to the Father (v. 13). This verse has been understood by some
- Christians to be a blanket promise that Jesus will give them whatever they want.
- Such idolatry of the self is the very opposite of eternal life.
This goes to show, of course, how right Jas. 4:3 and Rom. 8:26 are about us Christians sometimes asking wrongly and not knowing how to pray as we ought. Another thing, though, is that if we can misunderstand the saying about asking in Jesus’ name, we can also misunderstand, I suppose, the saying about baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
For one thing, as one can easily disregard, in the first saying, the part that speaks of bringing glory to the Father, so one can also easily view the mission to baptize to be other than the mission to make disciples, such that one pressures others to receive baptism before they are ready and willing to be disciples.
But misunderstanding of baptism in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is gross, I believe, in anyone who, while taking pride in being baptized in the name of the triune God, has no pity on a brother he sees in need whom he can help. Baptism effectively signifies the union of the one baptized with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But, as is asked rhetorically in 1 Jn. 3:17, “If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him?”
In effect, then, absence of love is absence of God, for God is love; indeed, selfishness is turning away from God, who “is love in himself, before time, because there is eternally in him a Son, the Word, whom he loves from an infinite love which is the Holy Spirit” (cf. Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap., “Trinity Is a School of Relations”).
In other words, baptism in the One and Triune God means incorporation of all the baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons (cf. 1 Cor. 12:13). Such baptism supposes the formation of the community of believers that is of one heart and mind, where no one claims that any of his possessions is his own, instead things are held in common and distributed among all according to each one’s need, so that there is no needy person among them (Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-35). Baptism in the name of the Most Holy Trinity means becoming the image of a merciful and gracious God, who is slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity, and who so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. Baptism in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, implies the proclamation that God—as St. Vincent de Paul put it—works continuously from all eternity in the eternal generation of his Son, whom he will never stop begetting, and that the Father and the Son never cease to be in a dialog of mutual love that has eternally produced the Holy Spirit, through whom all graces have been, are, and will be distributed to human beings. And the baptized are not only meant to be recipients of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit but also channels for the distribution of such grace, love and fellowship.
To the extent that we misunderstand and are not devoted to our brothers and sisters in need, and fail thus to partake in the distribution of graces to our fellow human beings, we misunderstand likewise our baptism and show ourselves lacking in devotion to the Most Holy Trinity, in whose name we were baptized. And we run the risk of eating the bread and drinking the cup of the Lord unworthily and of having to answer for the body and blood of the Lord.