Today we celebrate the Ascension of our Lord into heaven. This marks a clear new direction in the lives of the disciples. Jesus, the teacher, showed them how to preach and teach and reach out to the sick, the poor, and the suffering in his name. Prior to this, they had gone out in pairs to do this. But now our Lord tells them to do so to everyone and everywhere after he has been taken up to be with the Father. However, they will not be alone. He promises them the Holy Spirit, who will guide them, who will empower them, who will lead them in witnessing Christ to the ends of the earth. Jesus has not left them orphans, nor does he leave us orphans.
The first disciples faced a very difficult task from the very beginnings of the church. The people who had shouted for Jesus to be crucified and those who stood idly by had not gone away. The Jewish authorities and the Roman authorities, each played a role in Jesus’ death and each of them persecuted the fledgling Christian community, still held power in the region. So when Jesus told his disciples, that “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,” he is not speaking idly. He is reminding his followers that a power greater than any power on earth would be theirs as they boldly proclaim the Gospel.
It is now almost 2,000 years later. Now we are those disciples. The Church has different issues, problems, challenges, and evils to conquer. We are guided by the same Holy Spirit as we bear witness to our faith in our families, our workplaces, and our communities. May Christ, whom we encounter as we gather together each weekend, strengthen our resolve to spread the Good News in our world today.
Love, Peace, Joy,