“I am with you always,” Jesus assures his disciples even as he ascends to his Father in heaven. Indeed, he is with us here in the Word proclaimed so that we may be enlightened; in the Eucharist, offered for us, in the priest, who presides over this celebration; in each of us and in the assembly where two or three are gathered in his name. Jesus promised his disciples that he would not leave us orphans.
On the mountain before Jesus ascended into heaven it says, “They worshipped, but they doubted.” He doesn’t say what they doubted. Because we’re familiar with the story of “doubting Thomas,” we may assume they doubted that it was really Jesus. And perhaps they did, for according to Matthew, this was the first time they’d seen him since he had risen from the dead. But perhaps they also doubted themselves. They may have doubted that they would be able to handle Jesus’ mission without him. Yes, even the original disciples doubted, whether they doubted Jesus’ power over death, their own ability to carry on the Christian mission, or those things they could not understand. There is no shame in doubting. It provides an opportunity for faith, for faith in God, and faith in ourselves.
One word appears in all three readings today and it is not ascended or anything having to do with the ascension. The word is power. In the gospel, Jesus tells the disciples, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” enabling him to give them a universal mission to go forth to all nations. We have that power now as well, through our baptism. We can use this power to carry on the mission that Jesus gave to his disciples, witnessing to him and making disciples of others.
Love, Peace, Joy,