My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
In this last chapter of St. Matthew, Jesus opens the hearts of His apostles and broadens their original understanding that God’s Word is for all people. He tells them to baptize the people that they may enter into the community of the risen one, the Church. He asks His apostles to teach the people that the commandments of Jesus are the standard of Christian conduct. He assures His friends that He is with them always, fulfilling the promise of Jesus’ real though invisible presence for He was given the name at birth, Emmanuel, God with us.
Jesus’ address was not meant for only the eleven. He is speaking to us and by virtue of our baptism, we too are called to make disciples of all the people who will hear the Word of God. How do we live out this mandate? The lives of Mary, our Blessed Mother, and the saints serve as examples and guide us. During the month of May, we honor our Blessed Mother that following her example, we may be more fruitful day by day as disciples of Christ. Particularly on May 21, we remembered her as the Mother of the Church.
As we heard the Scripture proclaimed during the celebration of Mass, we learn of St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Stephen, St. Mathias, St. Philip, St. James, St. Athanasius, those early Christians whose stories of conversion build the Church. We are anointed by the strength of St. Mary Magdalen who recognizes Jesus in the garden and runs to tell others. We learn of Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who after hearing Paul speak, had a conversion and her whole household was baptized. We ask God for their fortitude as they preached the Gospel during a time of great persecution.
We know disciples live among us. Grandparents, parents, brothers and sisters are helping form each other as they pass on the faith through their teaching, example, and prayer. We experience the richness of this formation as we celebrate the Sacraments of Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation. I especially appreciate the letters of our young people who write to me about their joy in preparing for receiving the Sacraments. Recently I confirmed seven students of Morning Star School and their proclamation of the love of God could hardly be contained in the sanctuary of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church.
I ordained two men to the priesthood on May 26. Fathers Hawkins and Britton would point to their families, teachers, friends, religious, priests, and deacons whose invitation to discipleship led them to choose the vocation to priesthood. As they have grown in their relationship with God, they have also been disciples of God and encouraged discipleship with those whom they have met along the way.
During the month of May, we also remember those in law enforcement and the military who have given their lives that we might be safe. We remember their examples of faith as they cherish the sacredness of life in those whom they are called to protect and serve. We pray with gratitude for their understanding and goodness.
Jesus instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist that He will be with us always until the end of the age. The Eucharist unites us with one another and binds us to Jesus. The bond with Christ is a bond of love; to make God known in our midst, a God who continues to suffer in our sisters and brothers who are hungry, thirsty, sick and imprisoned. A living example of Christ in our midst is realized through the efforts of our young people as they collect items to assist our refugee families and to help them with their studies.
Pope Francis said, “Jesus did not say: “go, if you would like to, if you have the time”, but he said: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Sharing the experience of faith, bearing witness to the faith, proclaiming the Gospel: this is a command that the Lord entrusts to the whole Church, and that includes you; but it is a command that is born . . . from the force of love.” How are you living as a disciple? How are you making disciples? May we live proclaiming the Lord is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other.
Diocese of Orlando
May 23, 2018