I love to watch small children enter the church, dip their hands into the font that contains the waters of their baptism and bless themselves with the rule of faith that has been handed down to us from the apostles and that was contained in Jesus’ final words and instructions before his ascension to the Father as he commissions his apostles to, “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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” As the little children very carefully trace the sign of the cross on themselves they profess this ancient mystery of faith that is the central mystery of the Christian faith. “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Very seldom is their sign of the cross a perfect one as they fumble with this mysterious sign that was taught to them by their parents. This is understandable as even the grown-ups often fumble with their understanding of this central mystery of faith, that God is one in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Often the sign of the cross is the first prayer and profession of faith that we learn as little children. It begins our life of prayer and leads us into a personal relationship with our Lord God. Over the years it will be the prelude to every prayer that we offer to God and it will accompany the many blessings that we will receive in God’s holy name. To live our lives in the name of God, the Holy Trinity, is a blessing of divine life that God has gifted us with. We have the great dignity and blessing of being called the children of God as St. Paul reminds us today in our second reading from his letter to the Romans, “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a Spirit of adoption, through whom we cry, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.” By this simple sign of the cross and profession of faith in the Holy Trinity we are reminded that our lives are a gift from God that we live always in His name and presence. We are never alone for as Jesus promises and reminds us in our gospel reading today, “I am with you always.” Our life is a shared life as we share in the divine mystery of holy love and communion in the Holy Trinity.
The mystery of the Holy Trinity reminds us that the life of God is a shared life lived in the communion of eternal love between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is love, a communion of persons that shares all things. As Jesus so often tells us in holy scripture, everything that the Father has he shares with his Son and Jesus, the Son, shares every gift of grace with us through the Holy Spirit. The words, the power to create and give life, to heal, to free and to raise up to eternal life are all gifts of the Father that come to us through the Son and the Holy Spirit. At the beginning of the holy mass, the Eucharist, we are reminded that “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit” are with us always. We are blessed to share in this divine and holy mystery of life in the Holy Trinity. Every good gift of divine life is made available to us in the name of the Holy Trinity.
The life of faith begins in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. From there we are taught to observe all of the commandments of God as Jesus instructed his apostles. After the parents have taught their children to make the sign of the cross they are then called to teach their children all of the mysteries of faith that are revealed to us as a gift of the Father through his Son Jesus. If we learn and follow the commandments of God then our lives will be a continuous gift of grace and a sign and witness of the presence of God in our world. The sign of the cross also opens the way for us to understand the gift and blessing of family life as the gift of faith in the Holy Trinity is our pattern of the life of communion in love that God intended for all families.
As God is a communion of persons in love that share all things, so is the life of the family meant to be a shared life of communion in love. Life in the family teaches our children to live their lives for others. Once they have learned to live in this first community of love then they are ready to live in the greater communion of all believers in the family of faith. Our life of faith is not lived in a spirit of slavery to a long list of rules but in the Spirit of adoption as the children of God that share in a common life of communion leading us to eternal life. Today as you make that sign of the cross again to begin your prayer that your parents first taught you long ago, let us give thanks to God for the gift of faith in the Holy Trinity that gives our lives meaning, dignity and greater purpose.