(16) The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. (17) When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. (18) Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (19) 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, (20) teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
Throughout the past few weeks, we’ve been walking through the verses that make up not only our mission statement at St. Francis of Assisi, but the Great Commission. Commission is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “a group of people charged with a specific task.” In the Great Commission, Jesus charges the disciples with evangelizing the nations, baptizing them in His name, and carrying on his mission.
Picture the disciples’ perspective. Can you imagine a more monumental task than what Jesus is asking of them? Their hearts must have been nearly beating out of the chests, their hands trembling at the weight of what Jesus asks of them. They were chosen by Jesus for this task, but they were also normal people – they had the same emotions as each of us.
Without the grace of God, they would have been overcome with the mission. The only reason they were able to continue is revealed in the last verse of Matthew: (20) “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Jesus would not leave the disciples to their task alone. Evangelization is not possible without the grace of God and the action of the Holy Spirit.
In Evangelii Nutanti, Pope Paul VI writes,
Evangelization will never be possible without the action of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit descends on Jesus of Nazareth at the moment of His baptism when the voice of the Father- "This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased”- manifests in an external way the election of Jesus and His mission. It is "in the power of the Spirit" that He returns to Galilee and begins His preaching at Nazareth, applying to Himself the passage of Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me." And He proclaims: "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled." To the disciples whom He was about to send forth He says, breathing on them, "Receive the Holy Spirit." (Evangelii Nutiandi, 75).
Our Lord remains with us, all we need is the courage and humility to turn to him and implore his intercession.