ETB – 26 May 2024

Make Disciples!

Message by: Fr Richard M Healey

MP3 media (Vigil)

MP3 media (7:30am)

MP3 media (10:30am)

In today’s homily, I reflected on the lifelong journey of Christian discipleship, drawing inspiration from the Gospel of Matthew. I likened commencement speeches to our spiritual commencement, where there’s no graduation, but a continuous call to follow Jesus more closely. I reminded us of the disciples’ mixed reactions to Jesus’ resurrection and the importance of keeping our eyes fixed on Him, especially when doubts arise. I then focused on the Great Commission, urging us to prioritise making disciples, just as the early followers were covered in the dust of their rabbi. Despite the challenges, we must persist in our faith, seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and share God’s love with others. Let us recommit to this path of discipleship, inviting others to join us in this transformative journey with the reassurance that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are always with us.

(00:00:00) – News stories and social media feeds over the last few days have been filled with lots of examples of what we call commencement speeches from the US, from the different universities and colleges there. And I always just thought commencement must be when students are beginning their studies. But of course, these are the speeches that accompany graduation ceremonies. And I’m like, come on, Americans, work out what you’re doing. Are you starting or are you finishing? But I guess the reason that they have commencement speeches is that it’s the end of this stage of a student’s life, the completion of their studies, but is the commencement of a whole different area of their lives: this is the beginning of the rest of their lives. And it’s a good reminder for us of our life as Christians. You know, there isn’t a graduation that we go through. There’s not this process when we’re suddenly ready for everything that life might throw at us. We’re always invited along the path of discipleship to take one more step along this journey. And so the gospel today, which is the very conclusion to the Gospel of Matthew, has the disciples meeting Jesus at the agreed place in Galilee.

(00:01:30) – Where does it happen? It’s the Gospel of Matthew. Everything important happens on a mountain. And so they gather on a mountain, and we’re told that most of them bow down. Most of them fall down before Jesus in worship. But some of them hesitate. And the Greek word there is “distazo.” And it only occurs twice in the whole of the New Testament, and both times are in the Gospel of Matthew. And the other time (Matthew 14:31) is when Jesus had just fed the multitudes of people, when the crowds had been fed and nourished, and he needed to be with the father, he needed the spirit to be present in his life. So Jesus goes off to pray while the rest of the disciples set off in the boat to cross the lake, and a storm brews, and they’re tossed about by the wind and the waves, and Jesus suddenly starts walking on the water as you do. And he’s there in the midst of the lake. And it’s Peter in the boat who calls out, Lord, if it is you, call me to come to you across the water.

(00:02:48) – And Jesus says, come and so Peter gets out of the boat, starts walking, takes his eyes off. Jesus begins to sink and Jesus says to him. You. Why did you “distazo”? Why did you doubt it? And so Peter would remember that experience of being a dad. We don’t know whether he was one of the ones that kind of held back, that tried to hide in the crowd, that pushed the other disciples forward to, to to be the ones that represent the disciples. And we know that tendency. We know that experience of wanting to hide at times. It’s a bit hard when you’re six foot five to hide in the midst of a crowd. And sometimes you have to step forward. You have to be the one at the centre. But as he gathers this community, those who worshipped, those who doubted, just like a normal Catholic church, he then gives them what we call the Great Commission. He’s telling us that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

(00:03:57) – So clearly what he’s about to say is deeply significant for us. And what are we to do? Go, therefore make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands that I gave you. It’s a pretty easy commission to remember, and it matches the great commandment to love God and love our neighbour. Now, the grammar nerds out there might know that there are four verbs that are present in that in the Great Commission: go, make, baptise and teach. They’re the four verbs, but all verbs aren’t built equal. There are some words, verbs that control the action, that they’re verbs that really drive the action. And if you look at the history of the church, you might think that it’s baptise, because that’s one of the things that Catholics have been really good at doing, particularly babies, because they don’t move as much and they can’t run away. So we like to baptise babies because we get the job done before they can object and kind of nick off.

(00:05:18) – Teach? We might think, well, that’s another thing that the church has been really good at in building Catholic schools that have shared the faith or attempted to do that, and to categorise and to offer that life and that example or the whole idea of going to sending missionaries out into the world, usually to do those two things, to baptise and to teach. So we’ve done three of the four things that the Great Commission has invited us to do. But the heartbeat of the Great Commission is that second part: Go make disciples. That’s the one thing that is a Catholic church we failed to do. We haven’t been able to experience what it is to live as a disciple. And the best image of discipleship I’ve ever come across comes from the early second century, and it’s from a Jewish writing called the Talmud, which is a reflection on the scriptures, a little bit like homilies and commentaries and reflections. And in the Talmud there’s a description of, of what it means to be a disciple of a rabbi, a follower of a rabbi, a student.

(00:06:39) – I mean, that’s the essential idea of a disciple. “Mathetes” is just to be a student. You don’t have to have it all right. You don’t have to have all the answers. It’s just someone who is beginning to do this. And as the rabbi walks along the road, of course he’s walking along. The dust from the road is starting to be put up into the air. And to be a disciple is to be someone who walks so closely in the footsteps of your master that you’re covered in the dust of your rabbi. And it’s a beautiful model and a beautiful example of what this is about, that we’re not called to be disciples by ourselves. We’re part of this community of people, some who worship, some who draw back, some who hesitate, some who doubt. We’re all together in this. And there’s going to be times when you’re the one that is able to come up with the answers. You’re the one that is able to be strong in your faith. And there are other times when you will be the one who will doubt.

(00:07:41) – You’ll be the one that is wanting to withdraw, wanting to to stand back. But together we’re invited into this dynamic relationship of simply being ones who keep looking at Jesus, who keeps seeing what he does, who keep praying to be more like him, who keep asking the Lord to come and fill us with your Holy Spirit. Show us the way to the father, that all of us are invited more deeply into this life. And Bishop Brian, in our section of the reading of Come and See, Go and Make to Today is inviting us into that deeper reflection on how we grow more deeply as disciples. You know, how do we form ourselves? How do we shape our communities? How are we able to live this way of life more authentically and more completely? But the last part of the gospel today, I think, gives us a beautiful reminder. Matthew begins the gospel by telling us that the name that Jesus will be given is God with us or with us, God, Emmanuel. And then at the end of the gospel we’re told the blow, I am with you always.

(00:08:49) – We don’t have to do this alone, that Jesus will walk with us. He will send the Holy Spirit to be with us. He’s always inviting us more deeply into the life of the father. But together as a community, we need to do better at being faithful to this commandment of discovering what it is to walk in the way of the master, to cover ourselves with the gift of his life, the dust from the road, but also to go and to share that gift with others. Again, we don’t have to know all the answers. We don’t have to have everything together. But the way of discipleship is the way we just start to walk. Along this path, I start to invite others to journey with us in such a way that those around us are changed and transformed by the wonder of God’s love. So, as indeed, on this Trinity Sunday, recommit ourselves to that worship of the Lord to be part of a community that knows that God is with us. He’s walking with us.

(00:09:50) – He’s journeying with us, but he’s inviting us to wake up, to share the gospel, to share that love, to share that life with those around us.

Scroll to Top