“In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”

by Shiu Lan

“In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”, we Catholics do have a great way to remind ourselves of our faith in the Triune God whenever we make the sign of the Cross when we pray, enter a church, attend Mass, and so on. When the players make the sign of the Cross before thousands of spectators before a soccer match, they are professing their faith in this divine mystery in a big way. Likewise, when we make the sign of the Cross with reverence before a meal in a restaurant, we are professing our faith in a smaller yet visible way in the community, too.

In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, we hear that during Jesus’ Last Discourse before his Passion, he talks about the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth that is to come who will disclose to the Apostles the full meaning of the Gospel and guide them to all the truth (Ref ICSB 192, Jn 16:13). Jesus then goes on to explain his relationship with the Father and the Spirit, “All the Father has is mine”, “[the Spirit] will speak whatever he hears”, “he will take what is mine and declare it to you” (15, 13, 14).

Jesus proclaims that the authority of the Son comes from the Father. He has come into the world, entrusted by the Father with the responsibility of judging and giving life to the world. He is authorized by the Father with absolute sovereignty to judge the living and the dead and decide their eternal destiny (Ref ICSB 172, Jn 5:22, 27). The Father’s capacity to give life is shared by the Son, who receives life from the Father and gives it to the world through the Sacraments (Ref ICSB 172, 5:26).

The divine unity between the Father and the Son is unlike any known on earth; whoever sees Jesus sees the Father, Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God (Ref ICSB 189, 1:18, 14:9). Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (Jn 10:30). The Father and the Son are united in the loving embrace of the Spirit. We cannot divide the unity of the Trinity when we distinguish between the three distinct persons. (Ref ICSB 182).

As for the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in the name of Jesus, his mission is to continue the teaching ministry of Jesus, bearing witness to the truth at all times and reminding the apostles of all that Jesus have taught them. “He will guide you into the whole truth. He has nothing to say of himself but he will speak of what he hears, and he will tell you of the things to come” and fill the hearts and lives of believers with his presence (Ref ICSB 192, 16:13).

The Spirit discloses the full meaning of the gospel. Therefore the guidance of the Spirit is Christ’s guarantee that the gospel will not be corrupted, distorted or misunderstood by the ordained shepherds of the church during her earthly pilgrimage. Vatican II outlined the doctrine of magisterial infallibility meaning that Pope alone or the Pope and the bishops united with him are divinely protected from teaching error on matters pertaining to faith and morals (Lumen Gentium, 25). (Ref ICSB 192, 16:13).

Our Church’s earthly pilgrimage has never been an easy one, and never short of sufferings. As we witness the Church enduring her distress with great faith, dignity and immense patience, let us follow her and walk on with hope bearing in mind St. Paul’s insightful teaching in the second reading “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Rom 5:5).