A shared mission with Jesus
16 May 2021 Ascension Year B
Leaving the family home is one of life’s biggest transitions for children. There are many reasons why they ‘leave the nest’. It may be to go to university, to start a job, to assert independence from parental control, to live with friends, to travel the world, to get married or to break free from difficult family situations.
Leaving can be exciting and adventurous, as well as frightening and overwhelming; not only for children, but also for their parents and siblings. Yet, it seems almost a law of nature that we have to leave home at some point in order to embrace adulthood and take responsibility for our life and its direction.
The Feast of the Ascension recognises and celebrates the truth that the Risen Jesus leaves behind the human realm to take his place in glory, “higher than all the heavens to fill all things.” (Ephesians 4:10) With his departure, Jesus and the apostles enter into a different kind of relationship. It will no longer be dependent on time or a place, but on faith. Just as children and parents have a real, yet very different relationship once children leave home, so also for the apostles in the way they relate to the Ascended Christ.
The Gospel of Mark says that after Jesus was taken from their sight, the apostles went out, preaching and performing signs and wonders. It’s now their responsibility to continue Jesus’ mission of proclaiming the Kingdom of God. The time has come for them to embrace their new found “adulthood” and accept their personal commission to go out and bring the love, healing and compassion of Jesus to individuals and communities. Their mission, which is ultimately the mission of Jesus, is to “equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12)
Jesus leaves the apostles to prepare them to receive the gifts of the Spirit at Pentecost. It’s the grace of the Spirit’s gifts that will inspire the apostles’ preaching and teaching and that will give life to new generations of followers, even in times of persecution and division. As Pope St John Paul II remarked, “The Holy Spirit makes them witnesses and prophets. It fills them with a serene courage which impels them to pass on to others their experience of Jesus and the hope which motivates them.” (Redemptoris Missio, 24).
The same Spirit is gifted to us in baptism and confirmation; calling us to follow the lead of the apostles and to embrace our responsibility for the mission of Christ in our time. The Ascension reminds us that we are called to greater things: nothing less than sharing with others our own experience of the Risen Christ. This is what the apostles did and what we too are also called to d
David J Hore CSsR
© Majellan Media 2021