Ascension of the Lord
Dear Friends in Christ,
This weekend we observe the Solemnity of the Ascension of our Lord into heaven. In our Gospel reading at Mass, we hear the Great Commission that Jesus gives to his disciples. “All power in heaven and earth has been given to me. 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 until the end of the age.” (Mt. 28.20). These words are always relevant but even more so at this time. I am always impressed that Jesus in his last words to his disciples before he ascends into heaven is a command, an imperative. Notice his words of instruction: Go – Make – Teach – Baptize – Behold. As a note, I would point out there is no asterisk to this instruction indicating any exemptions or conditions. Jesus does not indicate that there are times or conditions when we do not have to do these things. He does not offer it as a hopeful wish, nor does he say that we are to do these things only when it is easy or convenient. Likewise, Jesus does not suggest that we embark on these things only when the conditions are perfect. Yet, too often as Christians that is what we do. We hesitate. We make excuses. We procrastinate. To be a disciple of Jesus is not to be a person who just sits around and thinks pleasant thoughts. To be a disciple of Jesus is to be a missionary. Jesus sends us out. He says “GO!” To be a disciple of Jesus is to be men and women of action “MAKE, TEACH, BAPTIZE”. To be a disciple of Jesus is to be confident in Him, “BEHOLD, I am with you always!”
This Great Commission is not restricted to a small number of the disciples. Jesus does not say this only to Peter or Andrew of John. Jesus, in this climatic moment of his earthly life and ministry, after he has been crucified and risen from the tomb, after years of preaching, teaching and healing commands his disciples to continue what he has begun. He commands us, you and me, to continue what he has begun. Jesus does not want or need spectators or fans. He wants us and commands us to be missionary disciples. Every mother and father, husband and wife, son and daughter, brother and sister, priest and religious, old and young, single or married, rich and poor, are given this mission, this Great Commission by the Lord. To be a disciple of Jesus is more than being an admirer. To be a disciple of Jesus is to be a disciple maker. Who have you brought to Jesus? How many disciples have you made recently? With whom have you shared the teachings of Jesus within the last week? The last month?
Right now, our world is filled with fear, anger, uncertainty and loneliness. So many people are seeking, longing and desiring for something better. They are longing for that which can give true meaning to their lives and fill their hearts with love. And while the world promises everything, everything the world offers comes up short. The malaise that is so omni-present is but a symptom of the greater disease that has infected humanity. The disease of hopelessness. The disease of a life without God. What is the answer? What is the cure? Very simply, Jesus! The world needs Jesus. We need Jesus. He is our hope! Jesus is the way, the truth and the life! You need Jesus, your marriage needs Jesus and your kids need Jesus. Your neighbors, coworkers and friends need Jesus. To have Jesus Christ is to have joy and peace! God knows this and that is why He sent His only Son into the world. Jesus knows this too and that is why He is sending you and me to GO-MAKE-TEACH-BAPTIZE and BEHOLD!
We start today.
In pace Christi,