Ascension of the Lord
And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover." So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, thanks to the fidelity of your Apostles to the mission you gave them, and that of many others who came after them, the gift of Baptism was passed on and reached me. I believe that through Baptism you have made me your child, a new creation, blessed with the grace of being able to know you, hope and trust in you, and love you enough to love my neighbor as you loved us.
Petition: Lord, make me your messenger. Grant me the courage to leave my fears and go out to others so that they too will receive these same gifts of knowing, loving and serving you. Grant me especially an increase in hope, trusting in your promise of salvation, as I work to spread your Kingdom.
1. "Go into All the World and Proclaim the Good News to the Whole Creation." The word "Christ" means Messiah or anointed. Those anointed in the Old Testament received a mission from God. Jesus was the Anointed One of God called to bring about the salvation of man, and he fulfilled this mission perfectly (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #436).
Essential to every Christian vocation is the aspect of mission. Christ directs his command to the apostles and through them to every Christian: Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. He places no limits, he wants us to actively spread the Gospel message of God's love to all around us: in our families, in the workplace, at college, etc. We must ask ourselves if we are living this mission, reflecting God’s love first of all in our own lives and behavior…, if we are therefore identifiably Christian. We identify with our faith and live it first of all in our mind and attitudes and then, as a consequence, in our actions. It is a mistake to reverse the order, fulfilling some externals and being content to appear to be something we are not really on the inside. If we haven’t changed and continue not to change the world around us, this is the reason. Our own faith must be personal, deeply rooted, experienced and practiced, otherwise our words and efforts are empty of God’s power.
2. "Jesus Was Taken Up Into Heaven and Sat Down at the Right Hand of God." Jesus always goes before us, the Good Shepherd leading us to the best pastures. Just as he lead us through suffering to redemption and calls us to follow him on that path, so the journey does not end just with his Death or even with his Resurrection, but leads on to his Ascension.
Jesus is here showing us our true destiny, our true home, which is heaven:” the life of the world to come, as we pray in the Creed”. This is something we look forward to, in every sense of the word. It is in the future, we cannot experience it and we understand very little of it right here and now, so we have to project our minds forward, into this future, based on the words of him who knows the Father because he has come from him. It will be then that all the toils and uncertainties of this life are over, and when we see Jesus ascend our hope is to one day join him. We think of all he said about the heavenly banquet with him, where death and suffering have no place, where we will truly know him and all our deepest desires will be fulfilled, where the treasures we have stored up through our love and fidelity on earth will be intact, We will be glad we have heeded him:…store up treasures for yourselves in heaven, where neither moth nor woodworm destroys them and thieves cannot break in and steal (Mt 6:20). The beauty and joy of heaven make the wait worthwhile and increase our joy when finally we possess it. This is our true hope. We hope to reach heaven, and we trust that God will provide us each day with the grace and opportunity to draw closer to it by being faithful to his word and being his apostles.
If heaven does not always mean all it should to us, it may be because we haven’t thought of it, or because our heart is still attached to the good things that give limited, passing joy which is only a pale reflection of what God has in store for those who love him, gifts so great that they are beyond our imagining. (Cfr 1 Co 2:9).
3. "They Went Out and Proclaimed the Good News Everywhere, While the Lord Worked with Them." Two complementary elements are clear here. In the first place, they did as Christ told them. The mission was placed squarely in their hands, whether it would be fulfilled or not depended on them actually leaving aside any other option in life and going out to do as Christ said. He gave them no plans, no blueprint beyond his example and the promise of the Holy Spirit. It was a risk. In the second place, they did not go alone, the Lord worked with them. This is our great strength and our great consolation. He wants to work in and through us. So we can never say it is too much or we are unable to do his will, because we are only the instruments and he has promised he will be with us always (cf. Mt 28:20). This is precisely what the Apostles did: they went out, and the Lord went with them. Most of them offered the ultimate sacrifice of martyrdom.
Conversation: Lord Jesus Christ, I give you my feet to follow your footsteps. I give you my hands to serve those for whom you have died. I give you my tongue to speak your word. I give you my heart to love all those you put in my path. I am weak, but with your grace all things are possible.
1. Am I really making a difference for the better in my circle of friends? Have I focused on bringing my internal attitudes more in line with Christ’s, or am I trying to change others without changing myself first?
2. What idea do I have of heaven? Do I really believe it is worth sacrificing passing joys in order to gain heaven, and to bring others there?
3. Have I taken responsibility for my own actions, knowing that this is an essential condition for Christ to be able to work with and through me?