Before Christ ascended into heaven, he spoke these final words to his Apostles: “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.” (Mt 28:18-20)
This is the job description for the Apostles and followers of Jesus. He calls us to go and teach everything he has commanded until the end of time. This is what is meant by the word apostolate, which comes from the word apostle, meaning “one who is sent.” Christ sends us out with his Spirit, to teach, preach and minister to his children throughout the earth. He calls upon us to participate in his work so that we can share his message of salvation to the world.
We are our brother’s keeper and we need to be concerned with the corporal (bodily) and spiritual well-being of others. The Catholic Church calls this the Corporate and Spiritual Works of Mercy.
The following passage illustrates our Lord’s command to care for others: “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’” (Mt 35: 34-37, 40)
The power of the sacraments of initiation
In baptism we receive the power of the Holy Spirit to offer our own sacrifices in the way of penance, mortification, sufferings, and prayer for the good of others. We also become a holy witness to the truth of the Gospel so others may see our light shine, “and see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Mt 5:16) In confirmation, we are sealed in this same Holy Spirit and anointed to carry on the work of Christ with supernatural fruitfulness. (cf. Acts 8: 14-17) Let us not assume that we are ill-equipped to bring others to Jesus and the Kingdom of Heaven. God gives us, through grace and the sacraments, everything we need. He empowers us with the faith, courage and trust to bring The Good News to others.