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The final verses of the Gospel of Matthew are often referred to as “The Great Commission.” Much of the commentary on those verses focuses on Jesus’ command that the apostles go and “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
But notice that this commission is sandwiched between two statements of assurance and promise. Having gone up the mountain, the apostles saw Jesus and they worshiped him, “but they doubted.” Why? Perhaps because much of what had transpired over the previous weeks had been disconcerting and not in keeping with what some expected of “The End.” What about the kingdom? As St. Luke records in the opening of Acts of the Apostles, the disciples asked, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” And, really, why wouldn’t they expect the kingdom of God to be fully revealed and realized at that very moment? After all, the Davidic king had come and announced himself, had endured torture and death and had conquered death itself! What was left?
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