One small phrase of today’s gospel stood out to me in prayer: “though some hesitated”. The context is the disciples meeting the risen Jesus in Galilee, with the implication that they fall to their knees to adore him…“though some hesitated”. The text continues with Jesus’ clear, calm and poised declaration of who he is and what the resurrection has accomplished: all authority has been given to me, in heaven and on earth. It is this that grounds the call to mission: Therefore go, make disciples of all, bring them into the life of our Triune God (baptise), and teach them all I have taught you.
For those reading with some theological formation, it will be obvious that this gospel reading reflects the Church’s later and more developed understanding of who Jesus and our God as Trinity are. But Scripture as inspired invites us to learn from the text as it is, and this one is beautifully crafted, holding together the lights and shadows of human life and Christian faith. Jesus breathes confidence, claiming the authority this risen life gives him as the eternal centre of humanity and its source of renewed and renewing life. In contrast, the disciples are hesitant, unsure. And yet, Jesus does seem fazed, he does not rebuke them for their lack of faith (as he had before). He simply sends them out and assures them of his presence, “to the end of time”.
There is something to learn here that can comfort those of us who are Christians and build bridges with and for those who are not. Faith is not a once and for all gift: it is a life that grows; it is trust that needs time and dialogue to become strong; it is love that needs nourishment; it is friendship lived ever in the company of a human God who knows what it is to not know, to be unsure, to question, to be afraid. Jesus accompanies our human life as it is, and we are still sent, in trust and in the company of the God who is ever with us.
– Associate Professor Maeve Louise Heaney VDMF