The Mission and the Promise of the Ascension

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on May 23, 2017

in Catholic, New Evangelization, Uncategorized

Scripture accounts of the Ascension of the Lord, tell us that before Jesus ascended into heaven he gave his disciples and all who would come after them a simple and far-reaching mission: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 20:19) He also assured them and us with this promise: “Know that I am with you always, until the end of the world.” (Matthew 20:20)

The Ascension of the Lord which we will celebrate either this Thursday or Sunday depending on the diocese reminds us that through baptism we are committed to the same mission that Jesus gave to those first followers and that he will be with us every step of the way until the end of time.

Some Christians resist, fear or oppose the idea that “making disciples” and “teaching all nations” is the mission of every Christian. They would rather let everyone “make their own choice” without our influence or encouragement. It is not that easy. In Romans 10:14 we read:

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

Witness

Most of us share the Good News through the witness of our life. Pope Paul VI called this the “wordless witness”, “a silent proclamation of the Good News and a very powerful and effective one.” (On Evangelization in the Modern World, no 21). In that same paragraph he says that such a witness stirs up questions in people who have never heard of Christ, those who are baptized but do not practice their faith or those who lives are contrary to the Gospel as well as those who are seeking someone or something they “sense but cannot name.” He says that “questions will arise, deeper and more demanding ones, questions evoked by this witness which involves presence, sharing solidarity, and which is an essential element, and generally the first one, in evangelization.”

This witness is the witness of people striving to love God and their neighbor every day to the best of their ability. When they fail, they humbly admit it and pray for the grace to succeed the next time. They accept God’s forgiveness and they forgive others who may offend them.

Proclamation

In paragraph 22, Pope Paul VI, also wrote, ”The Good News proclaimed by the witness of life sooner or later has to be proclaimed by the word of life. There is no true evangelization if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, are not proclaimed.”

Online Witness and Proclamation

Through the Internet we have a wonderful way to share the witness of faithful Christians as they worship together, participate in community, serve those in need. We also have the opportunity to proclaim the person and the teaching of Jesus. Let this year’s Ascension remind us of the importance of this work.

Here is a 17 second video that you may share on your website or social media sites. Feel free to use all or some of this description with it:

As we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord this week, let us commit to give witness to our beliefs in the way we live our lives. Let us be confident in Christ’s presence to help us, no matter how difficult our situation may be or how many times we fail. The readings for the Feast of the Ascension can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052517-ascension.cfm

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