“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:16-20), Jesus says to the Eleven. When Jesus’ mission was over, those who had welcomed Him began their journey: to testify the Father’s love to all who did not yet know Him.
What the Nazareen offered to Israel, the ‘Nazareens’ are to offer to all peoples. Those who, in Him, have discovered their own identity as children, they fulfil it now, by reaching out, like Him, to others, until the Father’s name in heaven is sanctified throughout the earth.
The passage is an afterword, offering a synthetic vision of the whole book of Matthew; like the finale of a symphony, it takes up and blends into a single harmony the themes developed in his Gospel.
The text invites the reader to make the experience of the first disciples: to go to Galilee, “to the mountain”, indicated to them by Jesus (v. 16). There, they will see Him and worship Him (v. 17a). Doubt is also part of the encounter (v. 17b), of which faith represents its overcoming.
Whoever goes up the mountain knows “the Son” and is given His power (v. 18); of becoming brethren to all (v. 19a), and immersed in the love of the Father and the Son (v. 19b), which enables one to ‘do’ what Jesus has ordered (v. 20a). He is the God-with-us, to lead the world to its fulfilment (v. 20b).
Jesus, the Crucified and Risen One, has not completed His task, nor is He absent from the world; He is present as Emmanuel, God-with-us, so that in anyone, what has already been accomplished in Him, may be fulfilled.
The Church has the same ‘vocation’ as the Son, realised in the ‘mission’ towards humanity. She carries forward in history what Jesus said and did. Whoever listens to Him, sees Him and adores Him, becomes like Him, a child, sent to others.
The apostles are not to ‘teach’, but to “make” disciples of the one Master (Mt 23: 8). Their mission is to communicate to others the same power that Jesus communicated to them; that of hearing and doing the Word, and become a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom (Mt 21: 43).
Israel is the light of the nations (Is 42: 6). God is the Father, and He loves all as children. Abraham received the promise that in him all the families of the earth would be blessed (Gen 12: 3b). The mission, at first limited to the firstborn (Mt 10: 5f), is extended to all, after Easter. The light, which with Jesus was kindled in Israel, now illuminates the whole world.
A disciple is the one who is ‘baptised’—immersed—not only in water, but in God, by whose Spirit one breathes and lives. The fishermen of Galilee will become fishers of men (Mt 4: 19). The Son fished them out of the abyss to baptise them into the light; now they will fish for others, doing what He did to them.
Jesus came to immerse us in the Father of life, in the name—person—of the Son and in the name of the Spirit, so that we are inserted into the Trinity and participants in the life of God.
‘Teaching all that I have commanded you’. This is the fundamental theme of Matthew’s Gospel, developed in the five great discourses, which illustrate what Jesus accomplished. The command is to love the Father and others with the same love as the Son loves (Mt 22: 34–40).
‘I am with you every day’. We are not orphans, nor abandoned. The Nazareen is with us; He comes to meet us every hour in which, with fidelity and wisdom, we listen to Him and do what He has done and said.
‘Until the end of the world’. Time is a journey, the goal of which is to be with Him who has always and forever been with us. (Fr. Silvano Fausti)