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Gospel for Monday, May 30: Matthew 28, 16-20

THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH

16The eleven disciples, meanwhile, went to Galilee, to the mountain that Jesus had set aside for them.17When they saw him, they prostrated themselves before him; but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the world”.

Mt 28, 16-20

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (www.buonabibbiaatutti.it).

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

There are three final themes of the Gospel of Matthew: the power of the Son of Man, the universal mission of the Church and the presence of the risen Lord in his community.

The power of the Son of man

The first word of the Risen Jesus is a revelation: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me”. With this Jesus declares that he is the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy about the Son of man: “Behold, one appears on the clouds of heaven, like a son of man…” (Dan 7,13-14). This “universal lordship” of the risen Lord is the root from which the universality of the mission arises.

The mission of Christians

The mission of Christians is explained by the Word of Jesus (Mt 28,19-20).

Some observations on this mandate. The Lord’s command must be translated not: “Teach”, but more properly: “Make disciples of all people” (Matheùsate panta ta èthne). “Make disciples” is according to the Jewish sense: the disciple became a member of the Rabbi’s family, the bond he established with him was stronger than blood ties. Jesus also behaves this way towards those who follow him: “Someone said to him: «Behold, your mother and your brothers are outside, who want to speak to you». And he, answering those who informed him, said: “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?”. Then, stretching out his hand towards his disciples, he said: «Here are my mother and here are my brothers; because whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven is my brother, sister and mother” (Mt 12,47-50). “Matheusate” therefore does not mean transmitting a teaching, but inserting it into a vital experience: it is therefore equivalent to: “Make members of the Master’s family”, “Make him his intimates, his dearest friends, his brothers”. This is why the specific aim of the mission is the “plantatio ecclesiae”, the foundation of the Church (Ad Gentes, n. 6), which is the “family of God”: “So therefore you are no longer foreigners (pàroikoi) nor guests , but you are fellow citizens of the saints and members of the family (editor’s note: oikèioi: note the play on words) of God” (Eph 2.19; Gal 6.10; Heb 3.6).

Please note: “Matheusate” is aorist, which expresses operational dynamism, and is therefore equivalent to: “Never cease to make members of the family of God”. Our task is therefore to ensure that all men become friends of God, and receive the “joyful news” of being his dearly loved children.

Jesus’ command in the Gospel of Matthew expresses the modalities of this call with three participles, translated as gerunds in Italian. The first of them, “going” (poreuenthèntes), expresses the properly missionary aspect, that, as Pope Francis says, of “an outgoing Church”: we are not told that others will come to us, but that we will have to move , first of all by going out from ourselves, and then from our communities, groups, parishes, mercies, to go to those who are far away. We cannot sit idly by, holed up in our security: we must expose ourselves, question ourselves, on a journey, in an exodus towards men.

The second Greek participle, also later translated into Italian with a gerund, states: “Immersing them in the name (baptìzontes autoùs eis to ònoma) of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. Let’s not immediately underline the sacramental aspect of the term (“baptizing them”): let us first be conquered by its literal meaning, which is “immerse in the name”. For the Jews, the name indicates the essence, the most intimate nature (Gen 2.19-20): and the essence of God is Love (1 Jn 4.8): God is none other than Agape, that is that most pure, self-giving, total Love, of which the Eucharist is a sacrament.

“Immersing all people in the Name” means making our brothers experience the tenderness of God’s Love, making them taste its sweetness, covering them in a dimension of charity and service, that is, it means making them feel loved by God, as we are the intermediaries and the means for this experience. This is why the Church is sent to the world to preach conversion by casting out demons and healing the sick (Mk 6:13).

Announcer of Him who is Love (1 Jn 4.8), the Church must first of all be a visible witness to him: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13.35). Do we give the world this sign? They recognize us as His by the intensity of love that reigns in the Church, by our washing one another’s feet (Jn 13.14), by welcoming us, by forgiving us, by giving each other honor, by living among us that charity which “covers all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13.4-7)?

And then we can begin the realization of the third participle of the command: “teaching them (didàskontes autoùs) to observe everything I have commanded you”: the catechetical aspect of the mission.

The presence of the risen Lord in his community

The Gospel ends as it began. At the beginning the name of Emmanuel was announced to us, “God with us”, as it had been announced by the prophet Isaiah (Mt 1,23; Is 8,8.10). Now we are assured that that prophecy has become a permanent reality: “I will be with you until the end of the world” (Mt 28.20). In other words, Jesus continues to be Emmanuel, God with us.

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at migliettacarlo@gmail.com.

Source

Spazio Spadoni

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