It would have been easy for the disciples to assume that everything was over. The call, the commitment, the commission could have all ended on that fateful Friday, when the one to whom they had committed their lives was murdered. Even in the face of the resurrection, there did not have to be an understanding that what began three years earlier would continue. The trauma of the crucifixion of their teacher, friend, and messiah had sent them scattering in fear and grief. And as much as Jesus had tried to prepare them, they really weren’t ready for life and work without him. It could have been over.

But something happened when the disciples gathered at the Mountain of Galilee, the resurrected Christ, the living Lord, Jesus, met them there. They were waiting to see Jesus.

Not all waiting is the same. If you have three sets of people waiting at a bus stop, the emotions they are going through could be entirely different.

One brother and sister are waiting for the bus to go to Oakville Hospital as they have every day this week. They don’t know what they will find when they get there, but they hope they’ll be back waiting at the bus stop tomorrow. Their mum is dying in hospital. Will it be weeks, will it be days, will it be hours? They know it’s inevitable, but they keep hoping the wait will be that bit longer, that they will have that bit more time with her.

Then there’s a boyfriend and girlfriend waiting for the bus to take them to their anniversary dinner. She thinks that is all they are waiting for. Her mind’s on other things as she chats aimlessly about the Maple Leafs. He waits nervously – in his pocket is a ring. Tonight, he will propose to her.

Then there’s a couple in their early 40s. For ten years they have been waiting for a baby which has not come. Now they are waiting for the bus to take them to the clinic to find out if what is probably their last chance at IVF treatment has worked.

They are all waiting for the same bus, but each of their waiting is different.

There’s waiting in the bible, and again each waiting is different.

For hundreds of years the Israelites had been waiting for a messiah. After being conquered by Babylonians, then Persians, then Greeks, then Romans, the Israelites were waiting for Great David’s greater son – who would lead them to freedom.

Yes, there’s something special about God and mountains. Other Gospel writers did not necessarily mention a mountain, but Matthew, Matthew, the one who wrote to a people who understood the power of mountains. Matthew, the one who wanted to connect the Jesus of his day with the Hebrew Scriptures. Matthew mentioned that the disciples met him at a mountain in Galilee. The Galilean mountain signified that something new and powerful was to be initiated. It was not over.

As Jesus greets them and they’re worshipping him – even in the midst of their worship, there is still some question, there is still some uncertainty, Jesus declares to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” He gives them their purpose. He gives them their mission statement. It was Jesus’ way of saying to the disciples, ‘It’s not over. I know you don’t understand what’s happened. I know you don’t understand what’s going to happen, but just remember this: It’s not over! Go, and make disciples!’

Making disciples is not synonymous with recruitment. It is not the same thing as building up membership. One cold day in Saskatchewan when Joanne and I were having a particularly frustrating day in our ministry, Bishop Sylvan visited us and told us that ministry is not like McDonald’s: Billions served, rather, Jesus saves one soul at a time!

It is not a numbers game of who has how many, but it is taking time to enter into relationship with others that is deeper than superficial friendship. It is daring to share with others the life-giving, life-liberating, death-defying relationship of God in Jesus Christ. It is inviting others into this relationship, and to go to all nations.

You can’t stop with you and yours. God’s love is not to be limited; it must be made available to the world. Go beyond what you know. Encounter me in other places and carry my love there.

But it’s not over. It’s not over in that welcoming process, for Jesus says to the disciples, teach. “Teach them to obey all that I have commanded you.

We have work to do. It’s not over. It’s not over! It’s not complete, and it will not be completed in our generation. The magnitude of the work to which we are called is bigger than we can imagine. It is bigger than our own understanding.

Unlike Mark, Luke, and John, Matthew does not report the ascension of Jesus into heaven. He does not have the disciples looking up and seeing Jesus separated from them once again, but Matthew concludes his Gospel with a promise, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Jesus’ presence with the disciples, Jesus’ presence with us is a reminder it’s not over. The work of God continues in us and through us.

Finally, I hope I would notice if there were two angels standing next to me. The disciples are so busy looking backwards trying to hold onto Jesus’s feet, that they don’t even notice the angels standing next to them. The angels have to say, ‘Oi, oi, oi’… “Men of Galilee why do you stand looking up to heaven.” God doesn’t want us to look to what he has done in the past. God wants us to look to what he is going to do in the future.

Gracious and loving God, you continue to challenge us and push us. Whenever we would become settled, and want to just accept what is, Jesus, remind us that the work to which we have been called is not over. As we seek to minister in Your name, remind us that You are with us and will never leave us, even unto the end of time. Amen.

-Dcn. Terry Murphy

Category Homilies