“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, to the end of the age.” (Mat. 28:19-20)
With these words St Matthew closes his Gospel. He opened his Gospel with the genealogy of Christ, but curiously, this genealogy did not start with Adam. Rather, St Matthew starts his genealogy with Abraham.
Why does he start with Abraham? We may find a clue in what God says to Abram, as Abraham was then known, whilst he was in his father’s city of Ur in Mesopotamia: And the Lord said to Abram, Go forth out of thy land and out of thy kindred, and out of the house of thy father, and come into the land which I will show thee. And I will make thee a great nation, and I will bless thee and magnify thy name, and thou shall be blessed. And I will bless those that bless thee, and curse those that curse thee, and in thee shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed. (Gen. 12:1-3)
God asks something of Abraham and makes promises to him. He asks that Abraham come out from his society, from his comfortable surrounds, and that he goes to where God will take him. The promises are that Abraham himself will become a great nation and that in Abraham, all the nations will be blessed.
This calling and these promises are fulfilled with the coming of our Lord and more particularly, with the commissioning of the Apostles. The Apostles themselves were first called by the Lord and are then sent out by Him just as was Abraham. This calling and sending out are the fundamental characteristics of every single true member of our Lord’s Holy Church.
We are not members of His Church because we made a decision to join it, as we might with a man-made institution. Rather, we are members of His Church because we have heard His call and have responded to it. This, after all, is the very nature of the Church. The Greek word ἐκκλησία reveals that it is a body of those called out by God.
Source: June-July 2015 Lychnos Edition