Go and make disciples of all nations

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matt 28:16-20

This is Matthew’s account of the Ascension of Jesus from earth back to heaven. In his gospel, it immediately follows the Resurrection account and serves to “finish off” that story.

“And when they saw him, they worshiped him;” Worship is due to God alone. With Jesus’ resurrection from death, the eleven understood finally that Jesus is God. No one other than God has the power over life and death that Jesus had demonstrated. After having been beaten, nailed to a cross, left to die on that cross after three agonizing hours, and after having been wrapped in burial cloths, and laid in a tomb where the body remained for three days, Jesus appears, gloriously.

“All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.” He has been trying to tell them that He and the Father are one, and that He was sent by the Father. Now, with the evidence of the resurrection, they can grasp that Jesus has come from the Father, with all the power and authority of the Almighty.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” This is called, “the Great Commission.” The mission that the Father gives Jesus, is, in essence: “Go to sinful man. Go to the fallen earth. Redeem it. Restore it to Me for it is mine and it is to be holy and perfect.” At His Ascension, Jesus shares this mission with the eleven. They are the foundation of His Church, and to them He imparts His authority. With His authority, He commands them, “Make disciples of all nations, baptize them, teach them to observe my commandments!”

Reflection

Sometimes people think of the Church as a bunch men, in powerful positions, making a lot of rules for the rest of us to live by. Understand this, the Church is nothing, it has nothing, without Jesus Christ. All power and authority are Christ’s. The apostles, and their successors only have power and authority because Jesus Christ, who is God, gives it to them so that they can share His mission.

Activity

There are a lot of fun crafts to depict the Ascension, but I liked this easy video on how to draw Jesus:https://youtu.be/A5QgWH5GY1U.

The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you for ever, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.

John 14:15-18

This gospel passage is taken again from the Last Supper discourse. Jesus is speaking with the 12 before His arrest and crucifixion. Jesus uses this discourse to encourage His Apostles. He promises them, that although He is leaving, the Spirit, who is sent by the Father, will never leave them. Not only will the Holy Spirit be with them, the Spirit will dwell within them. Jesus does not explain how this will occur, but He does make one thing clear. This Spirit, whom He calls “the Spirit of truth,” is rejected by the world.

Throughout John’s gospel the evangelist makes a contrast between “the world” and Jesus Christ. In the opening prologue John writes, “The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not…and his own people received him not.”(Jn 1:9-11). Later in the Last Supper discourse, John recounts Jesus saying,”If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”(Jn 15:18)

John is not speaking here of the world that God originally made and declared “good”(see Genesis 1). Rather, the evangelist is acknowledging that with the first sin, creation “fell” from grace, and ever since, humanity has been in rebellion against God. Jesus came to quash the rebellion and redeem humanity and all of creation. The forces of sin are strong and it was not easy mission, in fact, Jesus suffered terrible betrayal, torture and death to vanquish the enemy. The Resurrection is the sign of His victory. “The world” will come to an end, but He lives forever.

Reflection

“The world” which rejects Jesus and rejects the Spirit also rejects the followers of Jesus who are inspired by the Spirit. Though this might sound unsettling, Jesus exhorts us, “In the world you will have trouble, but have courage, I have over come the world” (John 16:33).

Activity

It is important to realize that being a Christian requires fortitude, which is strength, perseverance, and courage. This is a virtue that we can practice, and that God will help us to grow in. This week, read about a courageous Christian. There are many, but two you might enjoy reading about are Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Irena Sendler.

God’s will be done!

Mt 7:21-23

“Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in yur name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.'”

Jesus is very clear hear about what it takes to enter the kingdom of heaven. We must do the will of the Father. We can pray. We can call ourselves Christians. We can exercise the gifts that he gives us and do so in his name.  None of that will matter if we are “doers of evil.”  Heaven is not for those who perform mighty deeds, show up at prayers services or the mass, or rattle off words of prayers. Heaven is for those seek and do the will of God.

God’s will – this alone matters. It should be the driving force in our life. We should tirelessly, day in day out, moment by moment, decision by decision, seek and follow the will of God. This is our path to heaven. This alone, will make us happy.

Reflection

I think of myself as a Christian.  What does that mean?  Would others think of me as a Christian based on my actions?

Prayer

For the next three days, as often as you think of it, pray this prayer throughout your

walter_ciszek_sj_-_he_leadeth_me

day:  God’s will be done! 

Amazing Faith

Luke 7:1-10

When Jesus had finished all his words to the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave who was ill and about to die, and he was valuable to him. When he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and save the life of his slave. They approached Jesus and strongly urged him to come, saying, “He deserves to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us.” And Jesus went with them, but when he was only a short distance from the house, the centurion sent friends to tell him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof. Therefore, I did not conisder myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed. For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here, ‘ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this and he does it.”  When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him and, turning, said to the crowd following him, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When the messengers returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

“When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him…

How does one amaze the God-Man?

Faith. Jesus says, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”

The Centurion is a Roman soldier. The Romans were pagans who often worshipped many false gods. The Israelites were the “Chosen People” of God. God had revealed himself to them and continually saved them and cared for them. They should have had great faith, and indeed many did.  But let us compare the faith of the Jewish elders in this story to that of this Roman soldier.

Remember that the soldier sent “elders of the Jews to Jesus” because he did not believe himself worthy of asking Jesus’s help. What do the elders say? “He deserves to have you do this for him…” The soldier is so humble, he will not approach Jesus. The elders on the other hand tell Jesus, “this man deserves to have you to do this for him.” While they tell Jesus what he should do, the soldier acknowledges that he is not even worthy to have Jesus enter his house. He humbly awaits Jesus’s command, knowing that even a word from Jesus will accomplish all that he asks.

For Reflection:

As Christians, we have been baptized into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit and given the gift of faith. Do we believe that Jesus owes us something? or are we like the Roman centurions, humblying asking for Jesus to make us worthy of his help?

Prayer:

Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter my house, but only say the word,

and I shall be healedrome-clipart-roman-centurion-10

If you have thoughts you would like to share…