Friday, May 29, 2015

To the Mountain

The Gospel for this weekend is brief in length but heavy in significance.  On Sunday we will hear last five verses of Matthew's Gospel and it will give us the story of the Jesus' charge to the Apostles with this penultimate statement:
"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 (Matthew 28:19)."
It is interesting to note, however, that Matthew's Gospel does not tell the story of Pentecost like we read elsewhere in the New Testament- with the disciples locked in the room and tongues of fire coming down to them or Jesus appearing to them and breathing on them.  Instead, Matthew's Gospel sets them on a mountain following the orders of Jesus from the Resurrection.  The footnotes suggest the mountain may be the same on upon which these same disciples experienced Jesus' Transfiguration, where they witnessed Jesus in radiant glory.  This seems significant because mountain tops can give a unique perspective.  First, if you are standing on the top, or close to the top of a mountain, even a good sized hill for that matter, you are set away from a majority of regular civilization.  It can often be a quite place that allows you to see things from a different perspective.  Second, you usually have to work to get there.  Climbing or walking up to some summit point is not always an easy task- perhaps made even more difficult when we think about the time of the disciples and their lack of modern walking and climbing gear.  Finally, when we think of a mountain, we think of being up at a higher altitude.  As you climb the height, you get closer to the heavens or closer to God.  All of these factors help us to understand why the disciples would have been told to go to the mountain to meet Jesus.

His order to them, commonly known as the Great Commission, required them to see things from a different perspective, work a little harder, and be closer to God in comparison to their 'normal' lives.  Making disciples of all nations was not, is not, and will not ever be easy work.  Jesus calls us to take on the same mission today in our everyday lives.  We are to bring people to Christ through the way that we live, the way we act, and the way we treat others.  It may require us to see things differently, maybe from another person's perspective.  It will require us to work hard to get there; the road will be rough to travel and it will seem like an uphill battle.  It will also require us to work to be closer to God ourselves.  How can we truly bring people to Christ if we are not trying to get there ourselves?

This is our missionary work.  Pope Francis is continually preaching this message to us, but especially to the youth and the young adults of the Church.  We are called to go out and meet people where they are and invite them into the Church with us.  Instead of telling people what they can and cannot do in the context of faith, let's make the climb with them and help one another each step of the way.  Once we can get to the top, we will be rewarded.  The view from the top of the mountain with Christ is beautiful.  Let's help each other get to this place!

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