Gospel Reflection May 24 – Deacon Frank
Sunday, May 24
The Ascension of the Lord
Matthew 28: 16 – 20
The eleven disciples went to Galilee,
to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.
Then Jesus approached and said to them,
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
Airports are vulnerable places. Since 9/11 – and who knows what will happen to airline travel since the outbreak of COVID 19 – the various sections of the airport at any given moment you might witness or be part of tearful farewells or joy-filled reunions. Even before you are required to have your baggage weighed and screened, and before you are forced to take off your shoes, remove your laptop from your carry on and now, probably have to wear a mask throughout the whole flight, travelers will continue to find themselves saying goodbye at the curbside drop off. Departing often means leaving those whom we care deeply about – parents, spouses, children, grandchildren. And for those we have not seen for such a long time, the longing for return begins almost immediately.
When it came time for his ascension, Jesus knew that parting would be difficult – for him and for those he loved. As we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord this weekend, the conclusion of the Gospel of Matthew tells us that on the mountain the disciples doubted. We can imagine that they each felt a myriad of real emotions – doubt, but also sadness, fear, even anger. Jesus knew that it wasn’t going to be easy for them, so he gave them – and all of us – something to do.
Of course, it wasn’t just something to do like a scavenger hunt. It would become known as the GREAT COMMISSION, the call to ministry for the men and women who were to lead a community and eventually build a church. And now, as we start the very slow and careful process of returning to our church sanctuaries we still may continue to sit in our kitchens or living rooms celebrating Mass on YouTube or Facebook full of fear and anxiety and doubt and, maybe, rage. Jesus is somewhat commissioning us, once again, in the best way we can to do the same…build Christ’s church.
This journey through the COVID 19 “stay” which began in the middle of the Lenten Season, proceeded through the days of Holy Week, and has lasted through this season of Easter, continues. Just as that journey of faith over 2000 years ago didn’t end in death, it didn’t end at the empty tomb or a locked room. It didn’t end with Jesus being lifted up, nor has it ended in the centuries of faith that have followed, as his disciples have continued to carry out the GREAT COMMISSION. May our own journey continue THE Great Commission, our call to ministry, our call to community, our call to love.
-Deacon Frank Iannarino