What does it mean to be commissioned? The simple Webster definition is “an instruction, command, or duty given to a person or group of people.” But what is the instruction, what is the duty? Who gives the command and to whom is the command given? And is their one great commission that we all should follow?
I started thinking about this on May 24, the day when as a Catholic, I celebrate Jesus’s Ascension and the Great Commission. Here is the first reading that occurred on that day from Acts 1:
He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasonsActs 1
that the Father has established by his own authority.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
throughout Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth.”
And what was the power that was bestowed by the Holy Spirit? The power to know that you are loved and to bestow that love on others. To live out the commandment in courage and strength that Jesus gave on the last supper
This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.John 15:12
This was the Great Commission and commandment that we are meant to follow. What happened on May 25th , 2020, the very next day after this celebration, was the opposite of the Great Commission. Call it the Great Betrayal. An officer who was commissioned: “TO PROTECT WITH COURAGE, TO SERVE WITH COMPASSION” did the exact opposite. There was no compassion shown to George Floyd nor courage displayed by the officers that renounced their commission.
Now as the nation struggles with this betrayal and the many that have occurred before it, we need to cling to the hope and love set forth in the Great Commission. We need to practice the three P’s: Protest Injustice, Protect Your Neighbor and Heart, and Pray for Love and Understanding. We have seen many doing just this but unfortunately there are others who tear down instead of build-up.
In search of hope, I look back and forward to two other commissioning’s – one recent and one happening this week. On Saturday May 30th, Nasa and Space-X went on a successful co-mission as they launched the first commercial manned rocket to the space station. The private and public sector blended their unique talents on a co-mission to space and allowed us to hope that we could boldly go were no man has gone before – a world were differences are celebrated. As Gene Rodenberry, creator of Star Trek puts it:
“If man is to survive, he will have learned to take a delight in the essential differences between men and between cultures. He will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, part of life’s exciting variety, not something to fear.”Gene Rodenberry
I also look forward to the graduation and commissioning of the West Point Class of 2020 on June 13th. I look forward to the cadets to taking the oath to serve. In the words of LTG Darryl A. Williams, our first black West Point Superintendent (you can read the full letter here https://s3.amazonaws.com/usma-media/inline-images/about/Public%20Affairs/homepage/pdfs/superindendent_sends_06.04.2020.PDF):
“The oath to support and defend the Constitution binds us together as one team, dedicated to defending our Nation and upholding its values. We strive to embody these ideals and aspire to live by our core values of duty, honor, and country. Every word, every action, and every attitude should uphold those values so that we may live and lead honorably. The Nation looks to West Point as an example of what is possible when people from diverse backgrounds unite and aspire to honorable living.
Consider how your words, actions, and attitudes impact other people. Are you building up others and making them feel valued? Are you strengthening trust within the team? Are you extending forgiveness, and actively listening to other points of view? Are you inspiring others to greatness? If so, encourage others to do the same. If not, then choose to improve—immediately. Muster the moral courage necessary to confront and solve problems with effective, honest, and empathetic dialogue that seeks solutions rather than sowing seeds of division and disunity.”LTG Darryl A. Williams
Let’s build up instead of tearing down. Let’s celebrate the differences. Let’s love one another and protect each other’s heart. Let’s live out the great commission!