Acts 1:1-11; Eph 1:17-23; Mk 16:15-20
The Ascension of Jesus
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Feast of the Ascension: An end and a beginning
May 23, 2009, 9:13pm
This Sunday is the Feast of the Ascension.
It is the day that commemorates the rising of the Lord Jesus into Heaven and the entrance of His risen body into the eternal glory of Paradise.
When it was time for Jesus to return to the Father, He took His disciples up on a mountain and gave them His final instructions (Lk 24:50-53). He had been preparing them for three years by what He said and did. His first words showed who He knew He was: “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to Me” (Mt 28:18).
Before His ascension, Jesus entrusted to the leaders He had chosen and to all those who would become part of His body over the course of the centuries a share in that power and a share in His mission: 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” (Mt 28:19-20).
Thus, Jesus’ departure and ascension into heaven was both an end and a beginning. For although it ended His physical presence, it marked a beginning of Jesus’ presence with His apostles and disciples in a new way. When He spoke to them of His impending departure from this world, He also made clear to His followers that they would not be doing the ministry of spreading the gospel on their own. His very last words to His followers in Matthew’s gospel were, “And remember, I am with you always, till the end of time” (Mt 28:20).
Jesus’ parting words to His apostles point to the great mission which He also gives to all of us – to be witnesses of His saving death and His glorious resurrection. His ascension is a call for us to continually make Him present by allowing ourselves to become a living “Jesus” to other people. Our task is to proclaim God’s gift of salvation, not only to the “people of Israel” but to “all the nations” – to our homes, offices, schools, and work areas.
Jesus intends God’s love and gift of salvation for everyone – not just for a chosen few, but for all who are willing to accept God’s words and be transformed by them. All of us believers have been given a share in this task – to be heralds of the good news and ambassadors for Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. We have not been left alone in this task, for we are a part of that ongoing mystery of Jesus’ presence in the world: The power of His Holy Spirit in us, with us, and through us.
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