The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted."(Mt. 28:16-20) What?! How do you do that? Jesus told the disciples to go to the mountain, and when arriving, they experienced the "Risen Lord." The Catechism of the Catholic Church is reiterated in Matthew's passage when the disciples see the risen Lord. "Even when faced with the reality of the risen Jesus, the disciples are still doubtful, so impossible did the thing seem: they thought they were seeing a ghost." (CCC 644) Here the disciples' behavior is shocking, but then again maybe not.
A few theological questions caused me to search deeper into Matthew's text. Was fear grappling the disciples' after seeing the Roman soldiers' actions on "Good Friday?" Indeed, no one wants the brutal punishment that Jesus suffered. Or perhaps, we mimic doubting Thomas, desiring to place our hands in Jesus' side before giving total praise. More importantly, as we slowly move towards a new way of worship, how deeply challenged are we returning to worship during phase one in this pandemic? Will we be perplexed by the new surroundings, markings, and other stipulations that must follow for a safe return to our house of worship? Will our worship be "empty praise"?
Questions like these are the ones even a scholarly professor, with multiple credentials, could not answer. When reading further, Jesus amazes us by disregarding the disciples' half-hearted worship. Instead, he reminds them, "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, 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. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." Help me Lord to give "Total Praise" today.
Author: Michael P. Howard