|Published on Wed, May 20, 2020 3:00 PM|
Meditation for 21 May 2020 by Fr. Michael Ryan
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19
Today is the Feast of the Ascension – the day we celebrate the Risen Christ’s return to the Father. Reading this passage, I wondered why we (the Church) would choose to celebrate Jesus’ leave-taking. In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus ascends the very same day that He rises from the dead. We can only imagine how sorry the disciples were that Jesus departs so soon after his resurrection. However, he does provide guidance for what they should do after his departure; he directs them to “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…”
This is the first and only account we have in the gospels of Jesus commissioning his followers to act in the name of a three-person God. What does Jesus mean when he tells his followers to baptize the nations? The word “baptism” is used in the Hebrew Bible to mean “submerge” or “dunk,” often referring to such domestic tasks as washing dishes. I believe that Jesus is commanding us to immerse or dunk all nations in the love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, such that all people may enter into the loving relationship that is at the source of all life and creation. We are called to immerse those near and far into this life-changing love that after two thousand years still retains its capacity to bring life out of death. When we talk about bringing people into St. John’s through baptism, we are setting for ourselves the task of being a community whose love is drenched in the generous and generative love that flows between the persons of the Holy Trinity, and into and through us and all of creation.
Jesus commands his disciples to ”Go… and make disciples of all nations,” drenching them in the name and love of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. We celebrate the Feast of the Ascension because Jesus’ departure enables us to do this; through the Holy Spirit, we are given the power to enact Jesus’ resurrected life and resurrecting love.
Can we be a community that allows itself to be immersed in and freely share this remarkable love? Where is the Holy Spirit sending St. John’s? Where is She sending you?
Fr. Michael Ryan
Daniel 7:9-14 Psalm 8, 47 Hebrews 2:5-18 Matthew 28:16-20