You are witnesses to this
The Ascension of Jesus is not about a parting it is about completion; Jesus has accomplished his earthly mission and now takes his place in the Father’s Kingdom. It is an empowering event which leaves the disciples with the commission to preach the message of Jesus to the ends of the earth. To be commissioned is more than being asked to carry out instruction, it is an invitation to embrace the message, to internalise it and carry it with you as you go out, brining your own experience of the Risen Christ.
As disciples of Jesus, we are called to take upon ourselves this commission, to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins through our own experiences of what it means to receive life through being freed from sin and free to follow the light of Christ, the path set out for us by God, our loving Father.
During Jesus’ ministry, forgiveness was often accompanied by physical or emotional healing, the man with the withered hand, or the woman at the well. In these events, the penitent rejoiced in their new found life, we feel their joy, their liberation as God’s forgiveness sets them free from the darkness, the pain and the isolation that sin brings to our lives. It opens the door, to again see the light of a loving and merciful Father, who cares for each of us. Of course if this is not part of our own life’s experience of a loving God, then we cannot be witnesses to this.
To be a witness to the risen Christ, his forgiveness, his healing, his life, it must be part of our own experience, part of our life. For others to see the joy of living in the light of God’s love and forgiveness others must see the light and joy in us. It makes us children of the light, light that others can see.
We are commissioned by Christ, through our baptism and in our commitment of Confirmation, to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sin, in and through our witness, our lives, in sharing our experience of the forgiveness and healing of a loving God, in the joy and hope and freedom this forgiveness brings.
To know that God loves us and in his love forgives us all our failings, our selfishness, our turning our back on Him, to follow our own wants, that He never turns us away but is always waiting for our return. No where in the world is there a greater message, a greater love, and it is given free to all who accept it.
Jesus gives all his disciples a great mission, to continue his ministry, to bring the love, healing and life of a loving God to the ends of the earth, and empowers us with the Holy Spirit to do so. The gift of the Holy Spirit, the promise of the Father, is power from on high, firstly to open our hearts to the healing and forgiveness of God in our own lives and then to carry that love, joy, freedom, light with us so we too can be witnesses to him.
Fr. Mark Condon, Kilkenny
Gospel reading can be found at Catholic Ireland.net