It is no wonder that the Gospel of Matthew ends with the disciples gathered on a mountain. Mountains are key in the history of Israel, as well as being key to the ministry of Jesus. So I am sure it was with light hearts that the disciples made the journey from smelly Jerusalem that sunny Spring day to the fresh air upon the slopes of the mountain, with the gentle breeze sweeping across the landscape from the lake below. As the eleven gathered there, Jesus appeared to them and the natural reaction for most of them was to fall down and worshipthe one who was now demonstrated to be worthy of praise (although some hesitated – wondering if their concept of the one and only God could be extended to this very human Jesus). Then Jesus offers his final words to the disciples and to the Church – five short statements that provide us with the shape of church mission ever since. First he declares that all authority has been given to him – a somewhat bizarre declaration if it is not understood correctly. He ends with a reminder of the promise that was made at the birth of Jesus – that he will be called Emmanuel – God with us; now it will be Jesus who remains with his Church until the end of time. In between Jesus gives the church the Great Commission, the call to the church to GO! There are three elements to the commission: (1) make disciples; (2) baptise them; and (3) teach them. It is clear that the Catholic Church has been very faithful over the centuries to the last two, but that there is a natural priority and order to the commission that requires that the first step is to make disciples. Unless a person is allowed to be and called to be a disciple, the other two aspects appear to make little sense.
Recorded at St Paul’s (10’05”)
Trinity Sunday. Matthew 28:15-20.