2 Cor 13:11-13; Matthew 28 : 16-20
May all our words and thoughts be to the glory of the God who is Father Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
In the gospels the three persons of the Godhead tend to be mentioned either singly or in pairs but here at the end of St. Matthew we have them mentioned unashamedly together in the formula which was to become the touchstone of true Christian belief - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
While it is important not to read back into the New testament the later Trinitarian doctrines of the 4th and 5th centuries, we can say with some confidence that the New Testament writers, whether consciously or sub-consciously, display an embryonic understanding of the three-personed God. Our reading from 2nd Corinthians is a prime example, with its wonderful gem which we have come to know as “the grace”: “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” - one of the loveliest prayers there is.
St Paul manages to capture here something of the very essence of God as we experience Him: grace, love and fellowship.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ ..... the sheer undeserved mercy of God;
the love of God..... a generous love which evokes ours in return (we love because he first loved us);
the fellowship of the holy spirit.................the invisible yet very real bonds which bind us together both with one another and with God.
From our experience of Christian living and praying, we know deep down within ourselves that these three - grace, love and fellowship - are not single, isolated experiences but stand in clear and close relationship with each other. They are deeply significant aspects of God as we experience Him, pointing to something of the very essence of His nature, existing in close relation to each other, mirroring the relationship between the three persons of the Trinity. More than that, they are generous and gracious gifts of God which are shared with us!
For Paul ends his lovely prayer with the words “be with you all”. The gifts and essence of God’s very nature - grace, love and fellowship - are shared with us, passed on to us, given to us. The Trinity is not so much a remote theological thesis, as an experience, a gift which is given and shared. As always, the gifts say something about the Giver.
It has been said that the blessings which Paul so insightfully encapsulates in “the grace” are progressive - that those who are grasped by the love of God, who have the grace of the Lord Jesus in their hearts, are thereby joined together into a family whose like the world has not seen before: the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. (Tom Wright: 2 Corinthians)
And so God comes to live in us and we in God.
Philip Nichols CR