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  • Writer's pictureThe Hermit of Antipolo

The Great Commission (The Triune God Part 2)

After he had fulfilled his mission, immediately prior to his ascension into heaven, Jesus gave his final instructions to his disciples. He issued the Great Commission.

“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” (Mt 28:19)

This verse is the clearest expression in the Bible of the reality of the Triune God. The Trinity is very much connected with the continuing mission of Jesus and his Church.

Jesus gave his marching orders. His followers were to become evangelizers and missionaries. They were to proclaim the good news of salvation to the whole world, baptize them in the name of the Triune God, and disciple them. Baptism meant entry into the Church and union with the Trinity. Such union would be deepened and strengthened through Christian formation in the faith, “teaching them to observe all that” Jesus has commanded (Mt 28:20a).

In the name of the Father

Union with the Father is our restoration as children of God.

Sin had separated us from God and deprived us of paradise. God sent His own Son Jesus to bring us back to Himself. But when we accept the salvation won for us on the cross, then “through faith (we) are all children of God in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:26). “As proof that you are children, God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Gal 4:6).

Restored as God’s children, we now have access to our eternal inheritance.

In the name of the Son

Union with the Son is our walking in his ways and in imitation of him. This is what discipleship is all about.

Jesus tells us to follow him, to walk in his ways, to obey his commands. Paul exhorts us to have the same attitude as Jesus (Phil 2:5), to imitate him as he imitates Christ (1 Cor 11:1), to “grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ” (Eph 4:15).

Indeed, Jesus gave us a new commandment of love. We are to love one another as he has loved us. This would then be the mark of a disciple. “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn 13:35). And the best way we can manifest that love is to bring people to Christ, so that they, like us, will experience the fullness of the love of the Triune God.

Jesus directs us, “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:48). Our work of evangelization and discipleship has the same aim. “It is he whom we proclaim, admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.” (Col 1:28).

In the name of the Holy Spirit

Union with the Holy Spirit is doing the very work of God in the very power of God. This is what evangelization and mission is about.

For weak human flesh to do the divine work of God, we need a power outside of ourselves. This is the power of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus promised through the baptism with the Spirit (Acts 1:4-5). God poured out His Spirit on the day of Pentecost. On that day, Peter boldly and effectively proclaimed the gospel, resulting in the conversion of about 3,000 persons (Acts 2:41). And the apostles went on to perform “many signs and wonders” (Acts 5:12).

Indeed, it was as Jesus promised. “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these” (Jn 14:12). The Christians went on to evangelize the whole world.

Those called to be evangelizers can call on this power. “For this I labor and struggle, in accord with the exercise of his power working within me.” (Col 1:29).

The call to be evangelizers

The Trinity involves us in its very own work.

Out of His great love for us, in accordance with His plan of restoration, God sent His Son, Jesus. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (Jn 3:16a). In turn, Jesus sent the Spirit. “But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” (Jn 16:7). In turn, the Spirit sends us. Saul and Barnabas were “sent forth by the holy Spirit” (Acts 13:4). The Spirit could also prevent them from going on mission. When Paul and Timothy wanted to go into Bithynia, “the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them” (Acts 16:7).

The commission to evangelize comes from God Himself. The fulfillment of God’s plan is accomplished by the Trinity through us. The Father sends His Son; Jesus sends his Spirit; the Holy Spirit sends us.

We are privileged to be children of God, disciples of Jesus, and instruments of the Holy Spirit. Such a gift is something we need to share with others.

May we all be worthy of such a privilege.

* * *

Discussion starter for household meetings:

To evangelize is to share with others the love of God, the salvation won on the cross by Jesus, and the presence and help of the Holy Spirit for practical Christian living. How are you sharing this gift with others?

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