The Ascension of the Lord
May 10, 2018
Being a missionary is a tough job, especially when your message is rejected. Hello, I’m Father Greg Friedman with the Sunday Soundbite for the Feast of the Ascension.
As a child I was very interested in the stories told by and about missionaries who took the gospel to other lands. I tried to put myself in their shoes–learning a different language, adjusting to different foods and climate, and most of all facing hostility to the gospel message.
In today’s liturgy, we hear a Gospel selection that echoes those same concerns. It comes from the so-called “alternate ending” of Mark’s Gospel, namely verses 9 through 20 of Chapter 16. Scripture scholars believe this section–while still inspired–comes from a different hand than the rest of Mark’s Gospel. These verses deal not so much with the story of Jesus’ resurrection appearances or ascension, but with the acceptance or rejection of the message preached by Jesus’ first followers.
In today’s passage, Jesus commissions the eleven apostles to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” The messengers had to be credible, and so Jesus promises that those who hear and believe the message will exhibit wondrous signs.
Today we also look for signs of Christ’s presence in communities where the gospel is preached. The lives of believers should exhibit the power of Christ at work through their justice, harmony, and charity. Let’s allow today’s Scripture to affirm us in our witness to the presence of Christ.