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This Sunday's Programme

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Trinity Sunday B

Sunday 26th May 2024

The Gospel Paraphrased

There are many fine translations of the Gospels readily available. This paraphrase is not meant to replace them. Rather the intention here is to offer a more contemporary rendering so that you can imaginatively translate the Gospel in your own situation.

This Sunday's Gospel Paraphrased

Mt 28: 16-20

The disciples went to the mountain in Galilee where Jesus had told them he would meet them. Seeing him, they were astounded. Some fell down and worshipped him; others were confused and didn’t know what to do. But Jesus came up to them, welcoming them all. He then said, ‘All authority, both in heaven and on earth, has been given to me. So now, you go and make disciples of all the nations. Baptise them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to listen to and fulfil all that I have commanded you. Be reassured, be confident, for I am with you always, yes, even to the end of the world.’

Psalm

The Psalms are the ancient prayers of the Jewish people, here paraphrased into contemporary language.

This Sunday's Psalm

Ps 32: 4-6, 9, 18-20, 22

The word of the Lord is true.
All God’s deeds are faithful.
God loves righteousness and justice.
The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.

By God’s word were the heavens made.
All the hosts of heaven by the breath of his mouth.
God spoke – it was done.
He commanded – it was secure.

Behold the eyes of God are on those who fear him,
upon those who hope in God’s mercy
to rescue them from death,
to sustain them in famine.

We wait upon God,
our help and our shield.
Yes, our heart will rejoice in God,
for we have trusted in God’s holy name.

Prayers

Words cannot contain our desire for God but they help direct our minds and hearts towards God's love and express our needs.

This Sunday's Prayer

Loving God, we have been made in your image. You are a community of love and our hearts are made for love: of you and of love one another. As we contemplate your mystery of loving communion, may we learn to love each other as you have loved us. We ask this in the name of him who came to reveal your heart of love, Jesus the Lord.

The Commentaries Summarised

As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.

This Sunday's Commentary

This Sunday’s reading is both the conclusion and culmination of the Gospel of Matthew.  Many elements from the Gospel are woven into this text making it potent with meaning.  Mountains had figured in religious literature as a place of encounter with God. In this Gospel, it was on a mountain that Jesus rejected the temptation of Satan to gain ‘authority’ the easy way, on a mountain that he preached his Great Sermon, with his teachings and commands, and it was on a mountain that the glory of God shone out of him at the Transfiguration. The commission to baptise would remind the reader of Jesus’ own baptism where the Spirit descended like a dove and the Father’s voice was heard.

‘Galilee’ was not only the place where Jesus began his ministry.  It was also associated with the Gentiles.  Now as Jesus’ earthly presence comes to a close, the disciples are to go into the world, teaching and preaching as Jesus had done to them.  There is no Ascension scene in Matthew’s Gospel.  Rather the ongoing presence of Jesus is to be found with the disciples as they try to fulfil the mission entrusted to them.

In the midst of this commission is one of the rare clear references to the Trinity in the New Testament. Amongst Scripture scholars and theologians there has been discussion on just how clearly was the Trinity preached and understood.  This text points clearly to a baptismal formula that would have been used early in the Church.  A person’s name at that time held great significance.  In the Old Testament, God was reluctant to reveal the divine name as knowing a person’s name presumed that one had some ‘control’ or ‘influence’ over a person.  Now at the end of the Gospel and the entrance into the new ear of salvation, the disciples are told to baptise all into the intimate name of God. As the Son, “God with us” had given his all out of love, that same God wishes to draw all into the circle of divine life.

 

Exposition

Christian conversion is promoted by conversation. This section is a response to and a development on the knowledge gained from the commentary section.

This Sunday's Exposition

The doctrine of the Trinity has been a notoriously difficult doctrine to understand – and maybe therein lies the difficulty. We are trying to ‘understand’ something that needs to be first experienced. Most of us are not going to have extraordinary mystical visions of the inner nature of God, but all of us are ready for the experience that Jesus describes in this Sunday’s Gospel. Today’s reading is the culmination of Matthew’s Gospel and we can assume that these last words of Jesus to his disciples are important even in the way they have been put together. The sequence runs:

1) Jesus states he has received all authority.
2) The disciples are told to _go and make disciples_. In other words, Jesus tells them to go out of themselves and do what he did.
3) They are to baptise in the names of the persons of the Trinity. Names were important in Jesus’ culture – to be baptised/immersed in a person’s name would mean to his hearers to take on that person’s life.
4) They are to teach the commands that Jesus had taught them.
5) Jesus states that he is with them always – to the end of time.

In the literary style of Matthew’s time this sequence is called a chiastic structure. What this means is that the centre, that is 3, is the important part and what is around flows into it. For us, this means that our knowledge and experience of the Trinity come as we try to fulfil Jesus’ commands to go, make disciples and teach his commands. We see a glorious example of this in the writings of St Paul (see the Second Reading Rom 8: 14-17). As we try to fulfil, to do these tasks, we will discover the Father, from whom all flows, the Son, in whom all is redeemed, and the Spirit, that gives all life and love. These three Persons will be living and radiant within us.

Reflection

Reflection is an essential element of our growth in Christ. As we reflect over what we have learnt and ponder it in our hearts, we come to recognise the presence of God in our lives.

This Sunday's Reflection

‘Go preach the Gospel to all nations!’ That directive is given to you and to me as much as it was to those disciples standing on the mountain in Galilee. Personally, the directive worries me, and I’m fairly sure it worries you as well. How are we, in a society cynical of religion, to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ? How are we to preach Good News to people who seem to enjoy bad behaviour? How are we to preach life to a ‘culture of death’?

The clue to how we are to do this comes when Jesus tells us to base all we do on him, his preaching, commands, authority and presence, and to baptise in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is not our work but how we work that reveals what animates us. Quite simply we have to regularly enter into ourselves and ask: how central Jesus is to our lives? There, we must be honest, for dishonesty in the heart is the worst dishonesty of all. Jesus himself will not force change. But if we are truly focused on him, we will then allow his teaching to shine in the ways we relate. Jesus’ ways of relating will led us into the life of God, the loving community of the Trinity. There is an integral resonance between how we relate to each other and to God. On these relationships lies our ability to preach the Gospel to the people we meet.

Visual Meditation

Looking at art works or movies is a great way to open ourselves to the meaning of the Gospels. Seeing can bypass our preconceived notions, giving us new vistas of enlightenment. With painting or sculpture one needs to sit quietly and absorb the dynamics of the piece. The drama of movies more easily engages us and offers a way to conversation about the Gospel with other members of your family.

This Sunday's Visual Meditation

– This is a 15th century illumination by the Master of Jean Chevrot  which has the Holy Spirit portrayed in human form – quite unusual.
– Rublev’s Trinityis very popular and rightly so!
Russian Icons.
– This American design has its origins in Byzantine art even though painted in the Spanish Americas.

Mulling Meditation

The purpose of mulling meditations is to offer a few ideas that one can mull about while doing other occupations. There are many things we do in our day that do not require our full attention - some things which are largely done on automatic pilot - like driving a car or peeling the potatoes. While we give these our attention, part of our mind is still at work mulling on other things and unless it is given something positive to feed on, we easily feed on negative thoughts. Personally I find mulling time the most likely time for God to get through to me. Because I am not so conscious of myself, God gets through the cracks and opens my heart to look at life differently.
Two practical times for mulling can be when exercising and when driving. Some small preparations for integrating such prayer into these exercises can be helpful.

Exercising
As you do your preparatory stretches, pray the line of the Psalm "I praise you God for I am wonderfully made!"
Similarly when doing your concluding stretches use the prayer of St Clare "Praised be you, my God, for creating me!"

Driving
Have some music that you find helps you turn you mind and heart to God and play that for the first 10 minutes or so of your trip.

This Sunday's Mulling Meditation

Jesus has told us to go and make disciples of all nations. Most of us are unsure about how we can do this. Over this coming week, mull on how the quality of your relationships can reveal the love of God. On that basis, mull over how you can preach the Gospel in a way that is attractive to those with whom you work and socialise.

Mirror Meditation

In the Letter of James, we are told that the Scriptures are like a mirror in which we can see ourselves. In this type of meditation we take a piece of Scripture, hold it before us and consider what echoes within our heart. These echoes help us to see who we are before God and how we are loved. What usually echoes in us are situations that we are dealing with in our lives. When something strikes us, we do not actively try to solve the situation or work it through. Rather we sit holding it in God's love. The point of such a meditation is to make space within the situation for God's love to be. In 'sitting with' such a situation, painful or sad, we come to recognise the love of God that is at work on our lives. The suggestions for Mirror reflections can also be used for Exercise reflections but wouldn't be advised for Driving Prayer as often some degree of emotion or distraction might rise in such prayer.

This Sunday's Mirror Meditation

Rest in the love of your God.

We are made for relationship. They give us our greatest joys and greatest sorrows.

At their best, they give us an insight into the inner life of God. Think on what is good in your relationships and pray over what it reveals to you of God.

At their worst, they give us an insight into how sin can distort our humanity. Think on distortions you have suffered and ask yourself how you can avoid such distortions in your own ways of loving. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in God’s ways of love.

Rest in the love of your God