|Mark Fowler ’97
Today’s celebration of the Ascension has a reading that really puts the focus on Jesus’ final message to his disciples: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.”
When I think about the Ascension, I focus on the image of Jesus rising up into the clouds, taken away from his disciples to reign in heaven with God the Father. That image is certainly present in this reading, but it doesn’t give us much to act on. It is an image of power and glory but it also leaves me wondering what the disciples thought about the whole situation. Were they left standing there, looking at each other, trying to figure out what to do next? I’m sure they were. But the gospel passage gives us the answer to that question. Jesus commands them to go into the world. Jesus commands them to proclaim the gospel.
This forces me to consider if I am proclaiming the gospel, which is a significant challenge in our generally secular culture that considers faith a private, personal matter. More importantly, it forces me to consider if I am “going into the world” to proclaim the gospel. Am I going out of my immediate family and my parish when I talk about Jesus? Am going out of my comfort zone to witness to Christ?
The idea of Jesus ascending into heaven can give me a sense of false comfort, as if Jesus is in heaven watching over all of us and in control of everything that will happen from that point on. He will ensure that the Church grows and flourishes. I can let him handle things. But that is not what Jesus teaches us today. He places responsibility on us. So let us go into the world. Let us proclaim the gospel.