Today we celebrate the truth of our creed: “he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father.” We celebrate that Jesus has gone before us and opened the gates of heaven. We celebrate that we now live everyday with the hope of Heaven. Jesus is alive — in our hearts through Baptism and through the graces we receive in every Eucharist. His ascension calls us to build up his church. It points us clearly to the coming of the Spirit so that we, the Church, can become what we are supposed to be in Christ: His divine presence for all those who do not yet believe and His pardoning presence for those of us who do believe and yet fail.
His Ascension is also the start of our mission. We hear in today’s Gospels: “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation”. Pope Francis says: “Mission is giving what we have received. Mission is fulfilling God’s mandate which we have listened to and on which I would like to reflect with you: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28: 19). Go. The mission demands that we leave.” What does it look like to proclaim the good news? This past weekend, I taught our last class of family faith for the year. This class went in depth on Jesus’ Beatitudes. One of the slides had this quote from Pope Francis: “Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent.” Simply put, proclaiming the good news is sharing our story about how God has worked in our lives and then going out into the world, living Jesus’ teachings and example; living his beatitudes. We are called to go out and to serve others, as Jesus and his disciples did. As I mentioned to the kids in my class, it is not enough to simply live out the beatitudes, we must go and take action.
“The Risen Jesus says: “Make disciples”. This is the mission. He does not say: conquer, occupy, but rather, “make disciples”, that is, share with others the gift you have received, the encounter of love that has changed your life. It is the heart of the mission: bearing witness that God loves us and that with Him true love is possible, the love that leads us to give life everywhere, in the family, at work, as consecrated persons, and as spouses. Mission is to return disciples, with the new disciples of Jesus.” This was part of his message that Pope Francis shared on May 5th, 2018, to the members of the Neocatechumenal Way. Our mission is simple: we build Jesus’ church, we become disciples, we help find other disciples. We do all this by living a life that attracts others, a life where we have the courage to serve.