Commissioned by Christ
(Ascension, celebrated on Sunday in many dioceses: Acts 1:1-11; Ephesians 4:1-13; Mark 16:15-20.)
The conclusion of Mark’s Gospel, which we read today, seems to combine Luke’s story of the Ascension with Matthew’s account of Jesus’ command to proclaim the Gospel to all the world.
The commission has been given. What an awesome charge, what a grave responsibility! Have no fear, though, because Christ did not set us up for failure but ultimately for success.
In the first reading, just before the Ascension, Jesus made a promise: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem... and to the ends of the earth.”
In Mark, Jesus told his apostles of signs that would accompany their ministry, after which he was taken from their sight.
At La Salette, the Beautiful Lady promised signs that would follow, “if they are converted.” She also gave a commission, beginning with Mélanie and Maximin: “You will make this known to all my people.”
She then turned away, repeated her final command, and ascended back to heaven. She came to remind us gently of the work her Son had left for us to do, and now she was gone.
This feast is more than recognizing that Christ ascended to his rightful place at the right hand of God. It is also about us, the body of Christ here on earth, desiring to ascend also, to be with Christ the head of our Church. We need to get to work.
We have the tools, especially the sacraments. We have the instruction manual, i.e., the Scriptures and the teachings of the Church. We each have our particular skill, charism and specialty to contribute; as we find in the second reading: “He gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith.”
We pray: “Lord, kindle in our hearts a longing for the heavenly homeland and cause us to press forward, following in the Savior’s footsteps, to the place where for our sake he entered before us” (Vigil Mass). As La Salettes, we long to see Mary there as well.
Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.