Matthew’s gospel has only one short Chapter dealing with the post resurrection story. Many scholars call the “Great Commissioning”.
Today,Jesus gives the apostles, he gives all of us, our mission when he commissions us “to go and make disciples of all the nations.”
Fr. Scott Lewis, in his column this week, challenges us that as Christians “We dare not even think of making disciples of other nations if we ourselves are not true to Jesus’ teachings.”
- Love God with all your heart and soul
Time and again Jesus tells us that our God is a loving God and we are his beloved children. Nothing we can do can ever cause him to stop loving us- nothing- and Jesus calls on us to return to this love frequently especially in times of despair and pain.
- Love Ourselves
Perhaps for many the most difficult of Christ’s revelations to us- We are worthy of love. Yes we make mistakes and mess up, some of us have a unique capability to do this time and time again, but we are all worthy in God’s eyes and he wants us to see ourselves as such.
We can only accomplish the challenge of the Great Commissioning in today’s gospel if we come to fully believe that we are the beloved of God – We cannot give away love unless we accept that we ourselves are worthy of love.
- Act with Love towards others
It is only when we learn and live the first two lessons that we are then in a position to completely respond to Christ’s call to “Go and make disciples of the all nations.”
Jesus knows that this will not be easy. There will be times of doubt and fear. This is why he reassures us that in the darkest of times he is with us- as he ascends into heaven he reminds us- I am with you until the end of time.
I was looking for a story that would bring to life the call to Go and make disciples of all nations.
A cautionary note about Christina’s story- I do not know anything about her past or current religious beliefs. She may be a devout follower of Christ or an atheist- I simply do not know. I have decided to relate her story to you without this knowledge because I believe the life of Christina Noble is a powerful example of a person living the call of the great commissioning even if she herself would deny it.
Christina was born in Ireland near the end of WWII. It was not a happy household. Her father was a drunk and an abusive husband. Christina’s mother died when she was 10 years old and soon she was in an orphanage. She escapes and lived as a child of the street as a teenager.
One reason I believe she may at least be justified in not trusting religion is a story Karen Armstrong tells about her life as a street child. One day she had wandered into a Catholic Church. Starving she was eating the wax from the devotional candles when the parish priest approached her. No hand of help was extended; instead he quickly threw her back onto of the church.
While living on the streets of Dublin she was abducted by several men and gang raped. When they were finished with her they dumped her back where they found her. She was alone, bleeding and hurting everywhere. She has shared that in that moment all she wanted was one person to help her.
Her life continued to be a struggle. She eventually married but she repeats her mother’s mistake and found herself in an abusive relationship.
In 1971, she had a dream that never left her. She was in Vietnam. There were street children running towards her with open arms pleading with her to help them.
It took until 1989, with her life now in a better place; for Christina to take a bold step- she went to Vietnam. There she had an encounter with two street children. They looked at her and one of them reached out her arms as if to ask this stranger for a simple hug.
That changed everything.
Christina decided to dedicate the rest of her life to helping the poorest of the poor. The Christina Noble Foundation was born. It started small and today has over 100 projects on the go in various countries. Thousands of children’s lives have been touch by this one person’s decision to go and “make disciples” of all the nations.
Jesus does not expect us to drop everything and fly off to the most desperate parts of the world.
He does however, want us to be in the world. He has encouraged us to put aside our fears and to reach out and touch the leper- the sick/ the poor/ the prisoner- we are not called to change the world but to help one person- at a time.
Go and make disciples of the world- it is difficult and painful work, so Jesus reminds us that he is with us until the end of time.
One day we will ascend- go to be with God in heaven. If we have lived our lives believing in a loving God, accepting that we are worthy of love and then- and perhaps most importantly- freely giving our love away to others we can know that Jesus will embrace and say:
“Well done my good and faithful disciple. You have lived your lessons well- come now and be with me until the end of the age in paradise.”