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Making Disciples

     If someone were to first read todays Gospel, after reading the rest of Matthew, they would probably find the continuing theme of Jesus being on a mountain. Since the Sermon on the Mount, The Transfiguration and other events took place on a mountain, one could say that Jesus really liked mountains. You could be right in saying that, however, I think Jesus, and Matthew,  both knew and understand the theological significance of the mountain.

      We must keep in mind that each evangelist that wrote the Gospels were all writing to different groups, so they may, at one time, stress different points to connect to the group they were writing to. Matthew was writing his Gospel to evangelize to the Jewish Communities. Every Jew, living in the time of Jesus, did  know the story of Moses freeing the Israelites from the slave-bearing country,Egypt. During there 40 years in the desert, the Israelites stopped at Mount Sinai, and as we all know, this is where God talked to Moses and gave him the ten commandments.

     Therefore, in Matthew, many of the readings and stories take place on a mountain. To show the connection of Christ being human but also divine. To show that the mountain is a place of holiness. (Even the ancient Greeks believed that some Gods lived at the very peak of Mountains)

     In the account that we hear today of the ascension from St Matthew,  Jesus is now fulfilling his order to them, that he " is going before them to Galilee." Matthew, presents this story has another Manifestation of Jesus.There are two key points to this manifestation on the mountain: 1) The Disciples commission and 2) The affirming message.

     Firstly, the disciples are commissioned by Christ. He is leaving his disciples instructions on what they must do- and notice there are no limits to this instruction. Jesus says, " To make disciples of all ages, baptising  them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."  Their Job was to initiate (or Baptise) people who were not present during Christ Life. Their mission now was to make more Christians. It is unlikely, and proven, that their baptisms were not as elaborate and theologically understood by the people baptising, (the disciples)  as they are now.

       But initiating people was not the only job. They were to teach the newly baptised to obey every commandment that Jesus has given.( Again Matthew is connection Jesus words to that of Moses. Moses received the new commandments and now Jesus gives new commandments.) They were to learn and grown in their faith. Being baptised is a new life given to each person who receives it.  How can you live a new life without knowing how to live it? Jesus, therefore, instructs his disciples to teach the baptised what he taught them.

    Secondly, Jesus leaves Earth with a final Good bye. He affirms his disciples that he will be with us always. This last line is the assurance of Christ, that He will always be present within the Church. Jesus had just basically commissioned them to start building the church. Now he leaves his promise that he will forever be with the Church. For Christ is the reason for the church-he will not abandon it but will help it and sustain it.

      Since we, the people of God, have been integrated into the church through the waters of baptism we are also commission by Jesus. We are commission to build up his church. We cannot have a church without two things 1) People and 2) Christ. When we gather, Christ also gathers. When we come to celebrate our baptismal entrance and celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ every Sunday, then we fulfil this need. Then we are a church-when we have a community gathered to worship Christ.

     Therefore, we are the church. We make up the body of Christ on earth. We are to remember the words the Jesus left us with: I am with you always. Through the stresses, through the joys, through the ups and the downs, Christ is with us always. Leading us to wherever God guides us. Leading us to where the church, us , is needed the most.

"... Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember I am with you always, to the very end of the age"

-Matthew 28:19-20 (this weekends Gospel) 


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