Gospel Reflection May 12 – Deacon Candidate Bryan Inderhees

Sunday, May 12

Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

Mark 16: 15-20


Jesus said to his disciples:

“Go into the whole world

and proclaim the gospel to every creature.

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved;

whoever does not believe will be condemned.

These signs will accompany those who believe:

in my name they will drive out demons,

they will speak new languages.

They will pick up serpents with their hands,

and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.

They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them,

was taken up into heaven

and took his seat at the right hand of God.

But they went forth and preached everywhere,

while the Lord worked with them

and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.

As the Easter Season draws to a close, we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord, the last event of the Gospels. Jesus’ time on Earth comes to an end, but not his mission. He could have stayed in his glorified, resurrected body. As we heard in the resurrection narratives a month ago, this was an amazing experience for the disciples, giving them concrete evidence of God’s power over death and showing us we have nothing to fear in this life. But from the Lord’s perspective, even this wasn’t enough.

Gospel Reflection:

With the Great Commission and the Ascension, Christ shows us both the fullness of his gifts to us but also the responsibility we have after we receive those gifts. Like a teacher giving a final summary at the end of a class, he leaves us with the most important part of his message: share the faith and baptize new believers. The Gospel message isn’t just something we can receive and cling to ourselves. It is so great that it must be shared with the whole world and with the Ascension, some of that responsibility falls on each of us. Think for a moment how powerful that mission has been: From a few dozen people, mostly poor and many not particularly educated, living in a region that had spent most of the previous centuries occupied by a series of larger powers, the Christ’s Church has become the largest religion in the world, with members in every corner of the planet. Someone carrying out that mission, even if it was your parents, proclaimed the gospel and brought you to baptism. As we prepare to celebrate Pentecost next week and return to Ordinary Time after that, we should remember that Easter finishes with this mission, and that we each have a part.

And another theological point to reflect on is that Christ’s Ascension wasn’t just his spirit going back to Heaven. It was his entire being, even his body, the one that looked like ours. It was the body that was touched by Thomas, the body that ate and drank with the chosen disciples. This act, a completion of the Incarnation and the Resurrection, reminds us that we are created as a combination of both our own body and spirit, and that this combination is good! Just as we aren’t merely a body that exists for physical desires, we aren’t only a soul that’s trapped in some bodily container, longing for “freedom.” Our body and our soul are meant to be one. Just as Jesus ascended into Heaven as body and spirit, we profess every week in the Creed that we “look forward to the resurrection of the dead.” The Apostles Creed and our Baptismal Promises are even more explicit: we believe “in the resurrection of the body.” In the end, it is our whole being that will be brought back together to dwell with God and he among us, just as Christ is now with the Father in body and spirit.

Deacon Candidate Bryan Inderhees