What is a Commission?
Then He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24: 44-49 (From the Sixth Eothinon Gospel read at the Orthros Service) Sunday of the Blind Man
Good morning Prayer Team!
Christ is Risen!
When I hear the word “commission” three things come to mind. The first is the “commissioning” of a ship. Many months and sometimes years are spent building a ship in “dry-dock.” Ships are not built on the water, even very large ones like Navy warships. When a ship is finished, there is a “christening ceremony.” Usually a bottle of champagne is broken over the bow of the ship and then the ship is “launched,” meaning it slides down a ramp and into the water. And after the commissioning, the ship sets off on whatever mission it was intended for—military service, transportation of freight, or sailing for fun. No “commissioned” ship just sits in the harbor. And no ship is built just to sit around. They are all built to do something. The “commissioning” of the ship marks the end of the building process, but it begins the real work of the ship.
The second thing I think of when I hear the word “commission” is of graduates of one of the United States service academies throwing their hats into the air at graduation. These men and women who graduate from places like the U.S. Naval Academy, West Point and the Air Force Academy are now “commissioned” as military officers. Their training now complete, they are sent out as leaders of the United States military. As with the commissioning of the ship, their “commissioning” marks more of a beginning than an ending. And the purpose of their “commissions” are to go out and DO something, to be leaders. No commissioned officer has no task to do. All are commissioned to do something.
And the third thing that comes to mind when I hear the word “commission” is the way by which certain people get paid to do their jobs. There are jobs when one collects a salary. Let’s say, for example, that a person works at a bank. On the 15th and 30th of each month, when everyone gets their paychecks, let’s say that a lot of people run to the bank, and each worker at the bank has to work extremely hard and fast all day to keep up with all the customers. The next day, let’s say that no one comes into the bank. Everyone did their banking the day before, so the workers do little. The workers at the bank make a salary. So, if everyone comes to the bank on one day and it is extremely busy, the workers make the same amount of money as on the day when no one comes to the bank and not much work needs to get done. A person who works for “commission,” for example, a realtor, only gets paid when a house is bought or sold. If they don’t work, they make no money.
This week’s reflections are going to focus on our “commissions” as Christians. In each of the four Gospels, there was a “commissioning” of the Disciples by the Lord. We are the descendants of the Disciples, as we too are followers of Christ, and so these “commissions” extend to us as well. In each of the four Gospels, there is a call to action from Christ to the Disciples.
Like the commissioning of a ship, after a period of “building up” of the disciples through Jesus’ teaching them, they were sent out to preach to all the world. In the modern context we are the same. We are supposed to learn about the faith, to be “built” like strong ships, and then we are supposed to “sail out” in to the world and witness for the faith, to share the faith.
The commissioning of the Disciples was like their graduation day. As the Lord was about to ascend into heaven, He told the Disciples that their time of preparation was coming to an end and it was now going to be a time for action for them. In the Gospel of Luke, which is quoted today, the Disciples were going to be given “power from on high” which would sustain them in their work. This power is of course from the Holy Spirit, which would come into them on Pentecost.
Each military officer is given a specific commission. One commands a plane, another commands a ship, another commands a group of ground troops, and another works in intelligence. Likewise, each Disciple, and each of us as “disciples”, has a specific “commission.” We are all to spread the word of God in a different manner, giving a different witness. Some will do it as priests, others as teachers, others as builders, others as coaches, others as parents. But we are each commissioned to DO something to spread the word of God in the world.
And like the realtor, we are not going to get a reward unless we work. Salvation in the kingdom of God is not the result of sitting around. Merely receiving a commission is not enough either. The call to salvation is a call to action. The ship sails, the officer leads, and the realtor sells. All are called to action. So is each Christian, we are all “commissioned” in order to spread the Word of God in the world. We are all commissioned differently, in that we all will do our work in a different way. But we are all commissioned the same in that we are supposed to be DO-ers.
Magnify, O My soul, Christ, the Life-giver, Who arose from the tomb on the third day. Oh! Divine! Oh! Beloved! Oh! Your most sweet voice! You, O Christ, have truly promised that You would be with us unto the end of all Ages. Wherefore, the faithful, rejoice, having Your words as an anchor of hope. (From the 9th ode of the Orthros of Pascha, Trans. by Fr. George Papadeas)
Live out your commission today!
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