The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and the Acts of the Apostles all recount Jesus’ final commissioning to the eleven faithful Apostles. He told them to bring the Gospel to all nations, to preach repentance from sins and to offer the sacraments beginning with baptism. As Jesus promised, the Holy Spirit would give them the ability to unite all the peoples in this common desire for the truth of God, the freedom from sins, and the sacramental grace from heaven that leads to everlasting life.

At that time, the Roman Empire was trying to unite the world by means of force and wealth. In Rome itself, there was, or recently had been, a power struggle underway between the Emperor Tiberius and the Prefect Sejanus, which resulted in murder and mayhem, as other power struggles in Rome and other empires often did. By contrast, the Acts of the Apostles describes a Church united in the worship of God and mutual charity, even as she was often persecuted by the outside world. St. Paul and other missionaries traveled to cities throughout the Empire to bring that uniting message of the Gospel there. Certainly, in Church history, there have been unfortunate instances of ambition leading to unseemly conflict and the desire for power causing violence. But those instances are the exception. For the most part, the Church has promoted the common pursuit of truth, grace and the pilgrimage to heaven that unite the peoples of the world together.

And now Jesus’ commissioning to the Apostles is as important as ever. We see a world torn by wars, tyranny and civil strife, and an increasing anxiety in the West about dealings with other nations and different cultures. In the midst of such conflict, the Church unites nations together in mutual cooperation, telling all peoples that, as sons and daughters of God, they are brothers and sisters. For example, the religious orders unite brothers and sisters of different nationalities, bishops of all nations join together in promoting family life and concern for the oppressed, and the Pope is our champion of peace and human rights respected across the globe. When we so cooperate together to promote the Gospel by word and deed, we build up His kingdom on earth and become more worthy of being princes and princesses in heaven. For, as Jesus said elsewhere, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” Matt. 5:9.