On the Gospel of Matthew 28:16-20
This Sunday’s Gospel, though only five short verses, is saying so much. As I read it I have a picture in my head of our Blessed Lord saying these words personally to St Dominic – could you imagine the scene? ‘Go and make disciples of all the nations Dominic. Baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to observe all the commands I gave you and remember, I am with you always, yes, to the end of time’. I can see him scurrying away, bursting with joy at the thought of being chosen to bring God’s plan to fruition. We all know the outcome of that endeavour – Dominic founded the Order of Preachers!
And yet, in a very real way, the Lord is asking each one of us personally that same question – can you not hear it? Each one of us could substitute our own name into the text above in place of Dominic’s. Most of us will never establish our own international Preaching Order like Dominic but we are being asked to respond nonetheless. We might wonder how, when we have so many other pressing commitments. We have families to care for; bills to pay; jobs to fight for – how can we be expected to preach to all nations? I know I’ve said more than once: ‘Lord you’re asking too much of me!’
However, it is said that the longest journey starts with the first step. An open heart is the only qualification needed for this task. God just needs to hear our ‘yes’. If we could just be willing to say ‘Here I am lord, I’ve come to do Your will’ then the Lord would bring the nations to us! Modern Ireland is now home to every nation under the sun. To hear a foreign language in the street these days is no longer the exception it once was, is it? Here we are; this is our mission territory.
Who among us knows the power of a simple smile to a brother or sister in the shopping centre? Or a ‘thank you’ to the person who holds a door for us? Goodness cannot be contained, it is contagious. Your kind gesture will land far beyond the initial mark quite simply because the Lord has promised us so. He assures us ‘He will be with us always, yes, to the end of time’. He is the microscope who can magnify our little efforts into the sort of heroic gestures our world sorely needs. What a tribute it would be to our living of the Christian faith if our guests were to speak of our hospitality and kindness to their family and friends in their native lands? ‘The Irish people welcomed us and let us be part of their lives’ they might say. In another passage Jesus reminds us that ‘a city built on a hilltop cannot be hidden’ and that ‘our light must shine in the sight of men, so that seeing our good works, they may give the praise to our Father in Heaven’. (Matthew 5: 14, 16). Again, St. Francis urged his followers to preach always, sometimes using words. Were we to live Gospel lives, the Gospel would preach itself and Ireland could be the centre once again from which a new wave of missionary zeal would pour forth.
‘ALL’ nations however, must include our own little island. How can we share with others what we ourselves don’t have? We need to be convinced and we need to be determined. Do we show love to each other? We are being challenged to give the Lord something He can magnify. Let us not be found wanting.
Meanwhile the eleven disciples set out for Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had arranged to meet them. When they saw him they fell down before him, though some hesitated. Jesus came up and spoke to them. He said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And look, I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.’
– Matthew 28:16-20