Ascension Sunday B
May 16, 2021
Mark 16: 15 – 20
By Rev. John Tran
A beautiful old story tells of how Jesus, after his Ascension into Heaven, was surrounded by the holy angels who began to inquire about his work on earth. Jesus told them about his birth, life, preaching, death and Resurrection, and how he had accomplished the salvation of the world. The angel Gabriel asked, “Well, now that you are back in Heaven, who will continue your work on earth?” Jesus said, “While I was on earth, I gathered a group of people around me who believed in me and loved me. They will continue to spread the Gospel and carry on the work of the Church.” Gabriel was perplexed. “You mean Peter, who denied you three times and all the rest who ran away when you were crucified? You mean to tell us that you left them to carry on your work? And what will you do if this plan doesn’t work?” Jesus said, “I have no other plan — it must work.” — Really, Jesus has no other plan than to depend on the efforts of his followers!
Jesus must have been a little disappointed, when the apostles asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” It is true that Jesus had been speaking to the apostles about the kingdom of God for the past 40 days since his resurrection. But as he came to the time of his passion and death, Jesus had been telling them that He was not a political Messiah, but instead the suffering servant of Isaiah and the Son of the Father. And now they are speaking again about political power. Jesus calmly tells them again that he does not know the Fathers timetable for anything.
But in Mark’s gospel, as Jesus begins to ascend to His Father and their Father, he tells them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” Jesus is leaving us and going to the Father, and will send a Comforter, the Holy Spirit who will teach us all things. But as the gospel tells us, Jesus is giving the disciples and us great power in preaching and reaching out to every creature.
So, what does the Ascension do for us? For this, let us remember the opening collect we prayed earlier: “make us rejoice with devout thanksgiving for the Ascension of Christ your Son is our exaltation.” And it continues, “for where the Head has gone in glory, the Body is called to follow.”
Jesus Ascension was a necessary step for us. Because when Jesus in his glorified body went to the Father in heaven, a new way of existing was created for all of us humans. Before this event, no human being was present in heaven. However, when Jesus who is true God and true human went to his Father, he carries us with him as members of his Body. So Jesus has given us his own reality which humanity never had before. By this, we are truly God’s sons and daughters; we truly bring Jesus’ presence to our world even now today.
Ruddell Norris was a conscientious young man. But he was also a shy young man. He found it hard just to talk to people, much less to discuss religion with them. Then one day he got an idea. Ruddell did a lot of reading, and he was aware of the many pamphlets about the Catholic faith. So he decided to set aside a part of his weekly allowance to buy pamphlets. Ruddell placed his pamphlets in places where he thought people would pick them up and read them. For example, he placed them in waiting rooms and in reception areas. One day a young woman who was a friend of his family told his parents how she became a convert and how her husband returned to the Church. “It all started with a pamphlet,” she said. “I found it in the hospital waiting room.” You can imagine the boy’s excitement when he learned of the impact just one of his pamphlets had. He was just trying to obey the missionary command of Christ.
While this is a marvelous gift, it is also a huge responsibility. We now must live up to being children of the Father in how we live, act, and bring the reality of the gospel to those around us. As we have been reflecting, how am I doing this. How can I start if I am not living Jesus now? This is our advantage over the Apostles: We are not looking for the kind of political victory they were; but in helping Jesus to live among us now.