Browsing Homilies

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Patronal Feast Day)

Is 52:7-10 | Ps 40 | 2 Cor 4:7-15 | Mt 28:16-20

Matthew brings his Gospel to completion with Jesus’ great commission after the resurrection, often viewed as the mission statement of the Church. Resurrection leads to commissioning, for Jesus’ resurrection is not the end of his mission, but rather inaugurates a fuller realization of it. For his disciples, this means that, as much as they failed Jesus during his passion, their call to follow him is now renewed and expanded.

In contemporary times, when we seek to detach the Church’s missionary work from colonialism and imperialism, and to honor the truth claims of other world religions, it can be difficult to whole-heartedly embrace this commission to “make disciples of all nations.”

However, it’s important to remember the nuances of Matthew, regarding this commission. First, the lordship of Jesus which authorizes this commission is not that of armies and force but is the authority of the Crucified One. Second, making converts is not the goal of this commission per se, but rather teaching new disciples to live according to Jesus’ commands, such as those in the Sermon on the Mount (which forbid violence or retribution) and are summed up in the command to love one’s neighbor as oneself. These commands are taught not only in words but by the deeds of Jesus’ missionaries, who convey Jesus’ commands by living them.

How appropriate to be celebrating our patronal feast day over the weekend of World Mission Sunday. It was in 1926, Pope Pius XI instituted Mission Sunday for the whole Church with the first worldwide Mission Sunday collection taking place in October 1927. The Mission Sunday collection is always taken on the next to last Sunday during the month of October. This day is celebrated in all churches as the feast of catholicity and universal solidarity, so Christians the world over will recognize their common responsibility with regard to the evangelization of the world.

Saints John de Brébeuf, Isaac Jogues, and their companions (Saint Noel among them, together with five others) were Jesuit missionaries who took Christ’s commission to evangelize most seriously. For love of Christ alone, they had returned to the Huron missions voluntarily, despite knowing that hardship and likely martyrdom waited them there, which it did.

When we ourselves were baptized, we began participating in this mission. At the end of every Mass, this commission remains. We continue to be charged, just as the eleven first were, to make disciples of all nations, a task that is possible only because Jesus remains with us.

It is striking how many times the word “all” is used in this passage: “all authority” has been given to Jesus; he commands them to make disciples of “all nations,” to teach them “everything” he has commanded them; and reassures them that he is with them “always.” These sweeping “all’s” indicate how comprehensively the resurrection has transformed the world; now it is time for the disciples to act in response to this changed reality.

In doing the work of Christian mission it is vital to remember that we are commissioned even in the midst of our doubts. Even as those with “little faith,” we can do his work in the world, and this is because he has promised to be with us always, “even to the end of the age.”

God of action, you sent your disciples into the world to preach, teach, and make disciples of all nations. Make us instruments of proclamation, prophets to a broken world, so that all might know of the love you have for every human person, born and unborn. We ask this as we do all things: by the power of your Spirit, and in the name of your Son, Jesus, God for ever and ever. Amen.


RSS Feed


Access all blogs

Subscribe to all of our blogs