Ascension Sunday

I once heard another priest at daily Mass in another parish tell the assembly that one of the most important things for any Catholic was to know what Matthew 29 tells us.  He said that, in his home country, many other denominations were convincing Catholics to leave the Church because those Catholics did not know what was in Matthew 29.  He then asked the assembly whether they knew what was in Matthew 29.  So, people started to shout out their guesses.

Then, he told us what we needed to know about Matthew 29.

That Matthew only has 28 chapters.

Today’s Gospel is from the end of Matthew 28.  It includes Jesus’ final instructions to the Apostles.  This is what we call Matthew’s version of the Great Commissioning.

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,

baptizing them in the name of the Father,

and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,

teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

In the corporate world, visions and mission statements are important.  I often tell the story of New York Yankee baseball players Yogi Berra and Phil Rizzuto in the car together.  Phil said, “Yogi, I think we’re lost.”  And Yogi said, “Yeah, but we’re making great time.”  Visions define a common goal.  Mission statements help makes sure that organizations are not merely hubs of often conflicting activity in perhaps only nominal pursuit of that goal.  Both statements help groups of people to align their activities toward the common goal.  They make sure that all are headed toward the same destination.

As Catholics, our vision already exists.  It is that we all become saints.  To become saints and to help others to be the same. 

As Catholics, we might feel a need to also create a mission statement.  But, if we really think about it, we already have one of these too.  This one…the Great Commissioning.  This is what Jesus asked us to do.  Certainly at least with evangelization.

Pope Benedict XVI said that the Church does basically three things.  I paraphrase slightly, but those are worship and the sacraments, evangelization, and care for those in need.    Of the first, Mass and the Eucharist are most important.  So, if we really want a mission for us as Church, we should focus on Mass (and the Eucharist), evangelization/formation, and outreach. 

Have we recognized this vision for our lives and for the Church – to become saints and help others to do the same?  How do we live this out?  Have we embraced our call to evangelization via this Great Commissioning?  What else can we do to fulfill our commission?