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For Your Weekend: It’s Time to Go

Jeannine Yousif

Dig Deeper into Sunday’s Gospel: Read Matthew 28:16–20

Have you, like me, ever wondered if you missed your true vocation as a cloistered Carmelite nun? 

I have moments when I don’t want to leave church at the end of Mass. My family joins the rest of the congregation, filing out of the pews and down the long aisle where the world waits on the other side of the double doors. I’m content just to stay where I am.  

I also have moments before the Blessed Sacrament in adoration, my breath regulated to the white noise machine whirring outside the door, and I long to stay in this safe cocoon of my parish’s chapel.

The closer I grow to our Lord, the wider my eyes become to the pervasiveness of the culture of death that we live in, the more I perceive what easy fodder we all are to the serpent’s deceptions, and the more disinclined I become to venture beyond my Catholic bubble and into the dumpster fire of the world. 

When faced with the choice between running and locking ourselves away or going right into the chaos, our instinct might be to stay put and stay comfortable. 

Let’s see, dumpster fire or cloister? I choose cloister, please.

However, in this week’s gospel passage, we read that our Lord's command to His disciples—and, by extension, to us—is the opposite of shutting ourselves away. Our Lord instructs us to “go.”

In the gospel it has been forty days since Easter, and our resurrected Lord has been appearing to and spending time with His disciples. Jesus obeyed the will of the Father, declared victory over sin and death, and completed His mission to redeem us all. Now, the time has come for Him to take His rightful place in heaven, with all authority given to Him by the Father. He is not just the Son of man but the divine King of heaven and earth. In the fullness of His authority, Jesus was now calling His followers to a higher vocation.

We’ve all thought it, right? This world needs more Jesus. But how exactly is that going to happen? (Hint: the answer is you and me!) Despite our instincts to stay put, we must say yes to Jesus’ Great Commission, follow His instructions, and go into the dumpster fire. 

Go. It’s a verb, implying action. And Jesus uses it purposefully. 

Jesus is telling us, His disciples: Do not retreat, friends. Go. Move forward. You are not only listeners but active participants in spreading the gospel. 

The early disciples moved forward, following the instructions of our Lord and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. They traveled to Ephesus, Corinth, Colossae, Galatia, Rome, Spain, and Greece. 

If the disciples did not go, we would not be here

In his encyclical, The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis writes, “Christians have the duty to proclaim the Gospel without excluding anyone…they should appear as people who wish to share their joy, who point to a horizon of beauty and invite others to a delicious banquet. It is not by proselytizing that the Church grows, but ‘by attraction.’”[1]

Here’s what we are up against: the kingdom of this world has a ruler, the enemy, who ignites and fans the flames of hatred, avarice, arrogance, and pride. He does not attract; instead, he exploits, using shame, deceit, and guile.

Prioritizing a relationship with our blessed Lord, loving as He loved, and living a virtuous life allow the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23) to blossom and grow within our hearts, creating the aromatic fragrance that will attract others. As Saint Paul writes, “We are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Thus, we are commissioned to go into our desperate world, dousing the flames of the enemy with the living water of Jesus Christ.

The Great Commission does not end there, however. Jesus also instructs us to “[teach others] to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20)—ALL that He commanded, not just the parts that seem most convenient or easiest. Jesus' commandments invert what the world tells us is most important. He commands us to love God, love others, and live as He did, as a servant.

Our Lord’s last words to us on earth were, “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). In Greek, the word “behold” can be translated as “be sure to see,” as if one is commanding you to “pay attention!” or “don’t miss this!”[2] Peter Kreeft writes of these words to us: they are “a divine promise…But we have to ‘behold’ it; we have to remember it; we have to turn our attention to it and the one who gave it to us.”[3]

Don’t miss this part, my friend. No matter where we go, Jesus is with us always. Going into this world and making disciples is not a solitary mission. We do not have to go at it alone. In fact, it is impossible to do alone. So, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, the consoler and advocate, to be with us, to guide and lead us. Christ pours His Holy Spirit upon us to strengthen and fortify us for our mission. The fire of the Holy Spirit roars louder and burns stronger than the one in the dumpster any day!

With the Holy Spirit, God’s power (yes, it’s power!) within us, “all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26), including making disciples of all nations. Sometimes, those “nations” the Lord calls us to go to are within the walls of our homes or inside the boundaries of our family relationships. For that mission, the Lord knows we may need extra help from the Holy Spirit, which He will generously bestow upon us (John 16:23).

God’s creation—this earth, its inhabitants, and every human—is good. Amid the chaos and confusion, the enemy has gotten louder, and humanity has forgotten our Creator and our inherent goodness. We weren’t made to simply exist in this world, helplessly dodging flames and evading turmoil by locking ourselves away. We were created to live abundantly and flourish in a garden together

Jesus is calling us on mission to restore what’s been lost. 

So, I guess that means I have to pop the Catholic bubble, follow Jesus’ instructions, and go into that dumpster fire. The question is: Will you join me?

With you on mission,

Food for thought or journaling…

Choose your own adventure: cloister or dumpster fire?
If you chose cloister: What do you need to hear from our Lord today to send you into the world? Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the confidence and courage to step outside. 

If you chose dumpster fire: Who is the Lord calling you to minister to and share the gospel message with? Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the wisdom and boldness for your mission and protection against the enemy.

Come, Holy Spirit. Fill the hearts of Your faithful and kindle in them the fire of Your love. Send forth Your Spirit, and they shall be created, and You shall renew the face of the earth. Let us pray. O God, who have taught the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant that in the same Spirit, we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. 

[1] Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2013), 89.
[2] Strong’s Concordance, “Behold,” Biblehub.com (accessed May 15, 2024): https://biblehub.com/greek/2396.htm.
[3] Peter Kreeft, Food for the Soul: Reflections on the Mass Readings Cycle B, (Word on Fire: Elk Grove Village, IL. 2023), 792.

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