The final five verses of Matthew’s gospel cram an enormous amount into a small space, which needs expanding to discover its richness. In Matthew’s account, this is the first meeting of the apostles with Jesus after the Last Supper. It is a moment of faith: will they acknowledge him as their risen Lord? Most did, “though some hesitated”. Hesitation implies that they did acknowledge him, but doubted a moment. Is this Matthew’s version of the Thomas story of John’s resurrection account? For some, faith is immediate; for others, it takes time. Growing in our relationship with the Lord is a process. It is not always love at first sight.
One would expect the risen Lord, reunited with his apostles, to take the lead. But no. He tells them to take the lead. Hardly have they arrived in Galilee at Jesus’ summons when he says: “Go! You are my body, you are my voice, you are my witnesses. As I have formed you, so go and form others to be my disciples, catching fire through your lives. Don’t restrict yourselves to Galilee and Jerusalem – the ends of the earth await you. And when through the wisdom given you by the Spirit you see these disciples ready to follow me through death to resurrection, baptise them into the community of my Name, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As I push you, my fledgling Christian community, out of the nest, do not be afraid of falling. For even if it appears I have withdrawn from you into heaven, know that I am with you always, even to the end of time. Do not look behind you but ahead, at the Way I am before you. Go in my name!”
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