Go Into the World

It would have been easy for the disciples to assume that everything was over. The call, the commitment, the commission could have all ended on that fateful Friday, when the one to whom they had committed their lives was murdered. Even in the face of the resurrection, there did not have to be an understanding that what began three years earlier would continue. The trauma of the crucifixion of their teacher, friend, messiah had sent them scattering in fear and grief. And as much as Jesus had tried to prepare them, they really weren’t ready for life and work without him. It could have been over.

But something happened after they received the testimony of the women. “He’s not dead. He’s alive!” they said. “Go and meet him in Galilee.” And when the disciples gathered at the Mountain of Galilee, the resurrected Christ, the living Lord, Jesus, met them there.

God has a way of showing up and showing out in mountains. God met Moses at the back side of a mountain–Mt. Horeb–where God gave Moses the message and mission of liberation of his people. God met Moses at the back side of Mt. Horeb, where God revealed God’s self to him and God’s purpose for Moses’ life. God met Elijah at Mt. Carmel, where God declared once again that God was God, and God’s people believed, because God showed up and God showed out.

Jesus took Peter, James, and John to the Mount of Transfiguration where once again they were given an epiphany, a glimpse of the eternity and glory of Jesus. Yes, there’s something special about God and mountains. Other Gospel writers did not necessarily mention a mountain. Mark and Luke had Jesus meeting the disciples around the dinner table. John had them locked up in a room and Jesus coming through the door, but Matthew, Matthew, the one who wrote to a people who understood the power of mountains, Matthew, the one who wanted to connect the Jesus of his day with the Hebrew scriptures, Matthew mentioned that the disciples met him at a mountain in Galilee. The Galilean mountain signified that something new and powerful was to be initiated. It’s not over.

As Jesus greets them and they’re worshipping him and even in the midst of their worship, there is still some question, there is still some uncertainty, Jesus declares to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Jesus commissions the disciples, he gives them their job description. He gives them their purpose. He gives them their mission statement. It was Jesus’ way of saying to the disciples, “It’s not over.

Jesus commanded the disciples to move, to move beyond where they were standing. Don’t get stuck in where you’ve been. Don’t get stuck in where you think you are, but dare to move out! , “Go! Move from where you are. Go out and be about the business of making disciples.”

But it’s not over.

We have work to do. It’s not over. It’s not over! In a society in which healthy self-esteem is so difficult consider what Jesus does for us: he gives us the power to continue his work….It is not over!


Seeking the Lost

This is the time of year when parishes wake up from a long summer nap and get cracking. Vacationers return and we are glad to see them and each other. Parish Lifelong Faith Formation programs crank back up and DREs and catechists  are busy organizing classes and greeting the kids. The choir starts practicing again after winging it through the summer. Committees begin to meet again.

It’s very satisfying to look around and see the church doing what the church is supposed to do. Lots of people are helping out with this or that, taking responsibility and sharing leadership.

Then this Gospel selection from Luke  appears and there’s a problem.  Now here’s the problem: We are doing church, and that’s good. But we have followed Jesus to worship together, to be renewed, so that every week we can follow Jesus out — out to the school and the hospital and the bank and the office and the neighborhoods. We gather together to follow Jesus, then we split up and follow Jesus out  to seek the lost, the broken, the bleating, the alone.

Jesus seems to care inordinately about the ones who aren’t here. Jesus came to save the lost — lost sheep, lost coins, lost brothers, lost prostitutes, lost loan sharks, lost weaklings. Jesus came all this way looking for them. And those we have given up on or forgotten about or dismissed because of their unworthiness are the very ones that Jesus has headed out to look for.  He looks back over his shoulder to see if we are following him.

Remember what happens every-time somebody who was lost gets found? Amazing grace. Celebration for all because we are so inextricably bound one to another, church leader to stranger, hungry to full, joyous to mean-spirited, faithless to faithful. What happens when the lost sheep gets found is that the joy is contagious. And the 99 sheep have an excuse to throw a party, which is what we come together to do every week.

Witnessing Christ’s Love

In my email this past week was an invitation to attend a webinar: Invitation to Conversion. I was intrigued by its title and so, I registered to attend this talk via the internet. In our digital age, webinars are one way to equip the disciple to share the message of Jesus.

However, the best way to share the message and prepare the disciple is the personal contact and the personal witness of living our life as disciples of Jesus.

Evangelization and witnessing is often a fearful prospect for many Catholics, yet it is the Christian mandate and one of the highest callings we can pursue. This week’s Gospel Reading can help remove that fear by showing us that witnessing for Jesus is simply living and relating to others in such a way that they comprehend that “the Kingdom of God has come near.” For many in this world that is the beginning of hope; the realization that God and his life is accessible to them. .

Evangelization always works best when it is a joint effort of two or more people. A companion in Christ reduces the stress of relating and talking to someone about Jesus and it more than doubles the creativity and wisdom that can be brought to the process of revealing the Kingdom of God to others. Having another with whom we can pray for people’s conversion is very empowering

As a community whose mission is to bring Christ’s love to those we serve, our presence and our common prayer supports our mission and our focus. Living in community and praying together moves us to service and inviting others to know God’s love for them.

Christ desires to reach the world, beginning with your world and your witness. It’s unreasonable that a witness should have to be sent from half-way around the world, or even from across the city, to bring the Gospel to your neighbors or your acquaintances. That is why he has you there.