We are commissioned to be Jesus’ People
Today is our liturgical celebration of the Ascension of the Lord, when Jesus was taken to heaven on the fortieth day after Easter. Only the Gospel of Mark notes that Jesus ascended to sit at the right hand of God. In noting this, Mark teaches that Jesus’ ascension affirms the glory Jesus received from God after his death and resurrection. He commissions his disciples to go out to the whole world and to preach the Good News. During his ministry, Jesus sent his disciples to preach, to heal, and to drive out unclean spirits. Now they are sent again to do these things and more. Just as the Risen Lord entrusted himself into the hands of such broken people who were with him, he does the same to us. Our own brokenness and sinfulness are so overpowering at times that we forget that this incredible commissioning is possible, even for poor, weak, like us. How often do we marvel at the fact that Christ could truly inhabit us and act through our bodies, minds and hearts.
We know that we move toward heaven to the extent that we approach Jesus. We are assured that he hasn’t ever stopped being present with us throughout all time. The mysterious feast of the Ascension reminds us that Christ accepts the shadowy and dark areas of our humanity. He accepts our capacity for deceit, betrayal, greed and power. And having accepted us, he calls us, gives us the eternal commission to be his people, and sends us to serve him and love him. Let’s get going and carry a piece of heaven into the world. This is the meaning of the Resurrection and the Ascension of our Lord, not one of divine abandonment of the human cause, but divine empowerment of the Gospel dream. May Christ’s dying and rising move us to make God’s glory dwell on earth. May our hope for the future inspire us in a respect for the present moment. May the desire for the heavenly realities not make us neglect our work on earth.