As the people of God we continue to reflect on the great gift of Christmas – that the Lord so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son to become one of us so that we might share in his divinity. To believe this in a way that transforms our lives can be the work of a lifetime, but today’s reading from the Gospel of Matthew helps us to understand just how we share in that divine life. In speaking of this life of God, the Church uses the term “Trinity” and one way this mystery was revealed to us was in the baptism of Jesus.
When Jesus descends into the water at his baptism, Matthew tells us, the bystanders hear the Father’s voice and see the Holy Spirit descend as a dove. In this event, we recognize how completely united Jesus is to his Father and that love between the Father and the Son is manifest in the Holy Spirit.
We entered into the very circle of this relationship at our own baptism. In this sacrament, as we are sealed “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” we share in the divine life in such a way that the one God in three persons actually comes to dwell within us. By being baptized, we are destined for salvation. That is what God wants for you and me.
Soon, we will be able to ponder the meaning of this mystery in the extraordinary Trinity Dome that is under construction at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. In a glorious mosaic that will fill the central and largest dome of the Upper Church, we will see the words of the Creed that is the prayer that unites all baptized Christians. Along with the persons of the Trinity, we will see Mary, the Immaculate Conception, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, whom God asked to bear his Son to the world and who is for us a model of what it means to live united to God.
The fact that everyone participates in the communion of the Trinity through baptism makes us all children of God and members of the Church. For this reason we need to remind ourselves of the gift of the Church’s life-giving proclamation that we live in God and God in us to the extent that we live a life alive in God’s grace.
The Trinity Dome is a lesson in how we move toward salvation as it depicts the evangelists of the four Gospels, reminding us that God is revealed in the word of the Bible and through a life of holiness learned through the lives of the saints. All of us through a life of prayer, participation in the sacraments and practice of charity move toward eternal life in the embrace of the one God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.