The Gospel of Matthew ends with Jesus instructing his disciples to spread the Good News to all the world. It was essential that his followers continue the works that he had begun. It must have been staggering for eleven humble men from Galilee to receive such an imposing task. Surely they could not imagine ever accomplishing such a thing. Yet, Jesus followed his command immediately with a promise: “And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world!” (Matthew 28:20)
Those first disciples were sent out as we are today – on the greatest assignment in history. But with them was the greatest presence in the world. Jesus has never gone back on his promise. He continues to be with his followers in a very real and powerful way. Jesus still asks those who believe in him to make apostles of the whole world. Not all of us can travel to far-away lands, of course, but we can bring the message of Jesus Christ into our families, our work places, our neighborhoods.
Making apostles has always been a chief effort of the Missionary Cenacle Family.
Our founder, Father Judge, recognized the vitality of the laity. He believed that every Catholic could be an apostle in the providence of everyday life. In the Catholic laity he saw a great treasure possessing the power to influence others for good. He found hundreds of men and women ready to embrace the notion of discipleship. An apostolic spirit took root deep in their hearts, a spirit that we in the Cenacle continue to discover and nurture in thousands of people today.
There is no magic formula for becoming a missionary. We can learn a great deal through the example of the apostles and missionaries of the New Testament – Peter, Paul, Timothy, Luke, John, Philip and Barnabas.
In our own day, we can look to others who follow Christ by offering themselves in loving service to others. Learning to be an apostle and missionary requires prayer, study and reflection.
Taking his cue from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Father Judge once wrote:
“There are many gifts in the giving of the Church, there are many calls to special missions and privileged service, but the Church can invite us to no higher way of living than that of the apostolic life.”
Deep in his heart, Father Judge knew that each of us can be an apostle. Like the first apostles, we often wonder how we can “make disciples of all the nations.” Yet, like those apostles of long ago, we know that Jesus has not left us alone. He is indeed with us in the Holy Spirit, who helps us, guides us, and gives us the strength to change the world.
By Pat Regan, MCA