The Great Commission and Ascension:

You are witnesses of these things.
And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you;
but stay in the city
until you are clothed with power from on high.

Today is the penultimate feast of the Easter Season, which will culminate in the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Today Jesus gives us, His Church, the great commission, and then ascends to the Father. This celebration is important for several reasons. The first is that here we receive our mission as a Church: to be Jesus’ witnesses to the ends of the earth. In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus’ commission to us is to “go forth and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and teaching them all I have taught you.”

This is our mission as the Catholic Church and as members of Saint Dominic Parish family: we are called to make disciples. But we cannot make disciples unless we are being made into disciples! This brings up the second notable aspect of this feast: Jesus tells His disciples to go back to Jerusalem to “wait.” To wait on what? To wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Power of God that would descend upon them. Waiting can be hard, but if done prayerfully it can expand our hearts to receive the gift that God wants to give us. Once they receive the Holy Spirit, the young Church marches out into the world proclaiming the Gospel: the saving power of Jesus Christ and how every man, woman and child can become a part of God’s family the Church.

As Jesus ascends today in glory, He is not going “away” from us in some sort of abandoning gesture. Instead, the Ascension of Jesus is where our military commander, Jesus the Risen Lord, goes up to a height to better direct His troops in our spiritual battle. May we await the coming of the Holy Spirit with expectant hearts as we rejoice in the Ascension of Jesus to His Father today. God bless you!

– Father Michael