The Lord concludes the Gospel According to St. Matthew with a transforming word for the Church in the world:
“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:20 KJV).
The Great Commission is thus buttressed by the Great Reality: He is risen, He is ascended, and He is with us.
God’s very name, the Great I Am, is also I Am With You Always. His Incarnation—His Presence—and His eternality is the Name by which He has revealed Himself and by which He deigns to be known. This disclosure is our own personal invitation to know His presence. To know His presence is to receive the courage needed to fulfill His commands and to live as His people. Indeed, it may be said that the distinctive characteristic of the Church is not any singular feature of her members’ lives, but rather the powerful presence of Christ in the midst of her in the world. Therefore, to invite a person into the ordinary rule of faith—the Church’s week-in and week-out expression of faith as disciples of Jesus Christ through Word, sacrament and Prayer—is to literally invite a human being out of the natural world and into the supernatural, glorious Presence of God Almighty. God is, of course, omnipresent. Yet, Christ’s revelation that “I Am with you always” teaches that He dwells—inhabits, resides, tabernacles—with His elect, in the Assembly of the saints on earth, in a way that He does not with others or in other places.
The Church’s mission is clear: as the Son has been sent by the Father, so we who have received salvation from God in Christ are to also go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. When we are told, “I am with you always,” we understand that the Presence of Christ in the Church is more than our encouragement to realize this mission. The Presence of Christ in the Church is His guarantee that the mission will be successful.