“…God alone satisfies and infinitely surpasses man’s desire, which for that reason is never at rest save in God.” -St. Thomas Aquinas
Matthew 28:11-20: Now while they [the women to whom Christ had appeared] were on their way, some of the guards went off into the city to tell the chief priests all that had happened. These held a meeting with the elders and, after some discussion, handed a considerable sum of money to the soldiers with these instructions, “This is what you must say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And should the governor come to hear of this, we undertake to put things right with him ourselves and to see that you do not get into trouble.” So they took the money and carried out their instructions, and to this day that is the story among the Jews.
The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
Christ the Lord Jesus Christ has received “all power in heaven and on earth.” And what does he do with it? He shares it. He delegates his apostles to extend his Kingdom to all nations, promising to be present with them and to act through them. Jesus makes it abundantly clear that he is the Lord, and yet his Lordship differs profoundly from any other: instead of constricting the lives of his subjects through oppression and arrogance, he expands their horizons, giving them a meaning and purpose far beyond anything they could have ever come up with on their own. Through obedience to Christ, these eleven Galileans have become collaborators with the Blessed Trinity, ambassadors of God himself. Such is the generosity of the one who is our Lord.
How ironic it is that the chief priests and Pharisees, so eager for glory and influence, passed up the chance to be given such an exalted role! The irony doesn’t escape St. Matthew. He tells us exactly what happened. Having closed their eyes to Christ’s light over and over again, they ended up blinding themselves completely to the truth. They refuse to accept even the very sign they had twice asked for – the sign of Jonah. How small their self-absorbed world ends up being, just at the moment when the apostles receive their commission to conquer the entire globe for Christ.
Christ the Teacher The Incarnation was God’s saving invasion into this fallen world. The Church is the extension of that invasion throughout all time and space. Christ came to reunite God and men, to lead us back into communion with the ineffable joys of the Trinitarian life.
By putting his power behind the Church’s effort of baptizing, teaching, and making disciples, Jesus teaches us the proper scale of values. He could have put his power at the service of urban planning or space exploration or archeology. Such human endeavors are worthwhile, even noble. But Christ is focused on building his Kingdom, which consists of human hearts united to God through friendship with him. And where human hearts are united to God, they will also be united to one another; the inexpressible unity of the three Divine Persons will spread through those hearts and bring unity among men as well.
If building that Kingdom was and is Christ’s primary concern, it needs to be ours too. As he had taught earlier, “Seek first the kingdom of God, and all else will be given you besides” (Matthew 6:33). When he puts his power behind the mission of the Church, he is practicing what he preached.
Christ the Friend Baptism inaugurates the soul’s life of grace, its life of intimate friendship with God. When we are baptized, we inherit individually Christ’s promise to be with us “until the end of the age.” He is with us through the other sacraments (to which baptism is the door), which strengthen and sustain us throughout our difficult and wonderful earthly pilgrimage. He is with us through his Scriptural Word as well as through the living word of his Church’s teaching. And he is with us by being always within us. We have become temples of the Holy Trinity, as St. Paul put it; through the blessed waters of baptism, the Triune God has taken up his dwelling in the very core of our being.
Jesus: You never have to be alone. I am the one who knows you better than you know yourself and loves you with an infinite, crucified, unconditional love, and I am your constant companion. None of the restrictions of human friendship (time, space, miscommunication, selfishness, inconstancy, etc.) apply. You are wholly mine, and I am wholly yours. The perfect family of the Trinity has adopted you into our midst; such is the love of your incomparable Friend.
I believe in your presence and your power, and I want to walk in your light. And yet, I feel as if something is holding me back. Show me what it is. I want to be the saint you made me to be. Only saints do anything for your Kingdom, and only your Kingdom will last. Show me, Lord, the way I need to go. With the knowledge of your heart, make my heart wise…
Building up the Church, expanding your Kingdom, leading others to your friendship… You have given me a share in this mission. Such a wonderful, exhilarating mission! Thank you for calling me to follow you. Teach me to put things in this perspective – little amusements and petty pleasures have their place, but not your place. Lift my gaze up from the mud of the earth. I hope in you, Lord, my Savior and King…
Mary, Jesus left you to nurse the infant Church. Jesus is my brother, so you are my mother too. Such a wise and beautiful mother, sitting at the King’s right hand, arrayed in gold. You were firm and faithful to the end, because your love was true and total. Teach me to be like that…
PS: This is just one of 303 units of Fr. John’s fantastic book The Better Part. To learn more about The Better Part or to purchase in print, Kindle or iPhone editions, click here. Also, please help us get these resources to people who do not have the funds or ability to acquire them by clicking here.
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