2- Reading and understanding the Gospel: The Appearance on the Mountain (Mt 28:16-20)
16Meanwhile the eleven disciples set out for Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had arranged to meet them. 17When they saw him they fell down before him, though some hesitated. 18Jesus came up and spoke to them. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.”
2. 1- Explanation
This text presents the last event in the Gospel according to Matthew, where he recounts the final piece of information necessary for the believer. We can compare this with one who is close to death and who gives his last testament to his children: he gives them all the love and advice that is in his heart, before he leaves this world. The text sets out the last words of Jesus, the last commandment of the One who has risen from the dead. After the event of the Resurrection and the dilemma of the Jewish leaders (Mt 28:1-15), comes this appearance as the end of the Gospel of Christ and, at the same time, as the beginning of the Gospel of the new life in Christ. So this text, on the one hand, represents the point of arrival or the climax of all the other narrative texts of the Gospel of Matthew; and, on the other hand, it marks the starting point of another narrative. This text concludes the history of the mission of Jesus and marks the beginning of the history of the mission of the disciples.
In the first part of this text (Mt 28:16-17), the “camera” rests on the eleven disciples, in Galilee, on the mountain, without being able to record any of their words. Galilee was the place of the missionary activity of Jesus in Israel, and it becomes the place of opening up to the other peoples (Mt 4:15), in accordance with the prophetic vision (Is 49:6). The mountain is the place of the complete revelation of the Lord, the Son of God (Mt 17:1). But the eleven disciples are no longer twelve (as in Mt 10:1), called in Matthew’s Gospel the “men of little faith” because of their conflicting attitude swithering between worship and doubt.
In the second part (Mt 28:18-20), Jesus is the centre of this event. His words take on a liturgical character and his utterances are of solemn importance. The proclamation of the Pantocrator (Mt 28:18b), the Lord of the World, the Almighty, is an echo of what we read in the Book of Daniel (Dan 7:13-14) which prophesied that the Son of Man would come, with power and glory, that he might be worshipped by all peoples. This tells of the total and absolute power of Jesus, the foundation and justification of the Church’s mission. Regarding the “sending” (Mt 28:19-20a), this clearly demonstrates the typical value of “discipleship. The “making disciples” is the essential work involved in the evangelization of peoples (Is 42:6); baptism is only one step within the realm of genuine discipleship. The promise – I am with you always; yes, to the end of time – of the constant presence of the Lord (Mt 28:20b) assures the believer on his journey, for Emmanuel (Mt 1:23) pledges to remain with every disciple, with every believer.
2. 2- Summary and Practice
This scene focuses on the divinity of Christ and his respective place in the Holy Trinity and the Church. Jesus is the key to knowledge of the world of God. Jesus has revealed to us the Father and the Holy Spirit. At the same time, Jesus is the principle and the foundation of the Church. In this passage of the Gospel, the action of the Church is defined: her field encompasses “all nations”, is “universal”, and her role consists primarily in making disciples, preaching and teaching the Word of God. Therefore, the divinity of the Church is closely attached to mission, especially with regard to the three priestly functions: teaching, sanctification and administration. Indeed, teaching inflames the heart which, through repentance and baptism, is sanctified and, in turn, becomes a witness of the Good News of God’s love.