Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority 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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Compared with the event of the Ascension of Jesus recounted in the Acts of the Apostles, today’s gospel seems not giving us much of the details. For us, who are conditioned by actions, today’s gospel sounds less dramatic. However, we should give up this “doing” attitude and read today’s gospel in a contemplative way. If we can do it this way and open ourselves to the Holy Spirit, we would discover that God reveals himself to us in many things.
The Ascension of Jesus is a significant moment in the life of Jesus. It is also a significant moment in the life of his disciples and in the life of us, who are followers of Jesus.
For Jesus, the moment of his Ascension signifies the end of his earthly life. That is why when Mary tried to touch him in the graveyard on the first day of the week after the entombment, Jesus told her not to touch him because he had yet go to the Father. It is the triumph moment in the life of Jesus, who finished his works and passion on earth, goes into heaven and to sit at the right hand of the Father.
The Ascension of Jesus also marks the end of the formation of his community in person. It is the time of this community to be on its own and to receive his commission of sending them out to the world.
The Ascension of Jesus denotes how Jesus will relate with his disciples and us in a different way.
The beginning of today’s gospel reminds us that for all Christians the beginning of our journey is always in Galilee. The eleven disciples went back to where they began. Our Galilean experience is our first encounter with Jesus. We can do nothing without going back our Galilean experience. Without such an experience, it is impossible for us to receive such a commission.
Take note of verse 17: “When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” Ask myself, do I also doubt? Why I doubt? There must be something happening deep inside of me. It can be something good. When we are doubt about our faith, it means God wants us to take our faith seriously. So go deep inside myself and listen to what God wants to say to me.
Verses 18 and 19 are the commission of Jesus. In commissioning his disciples and us, Jesus first states his authority to commission. That is “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
Having cited his authority to commission, Jesus then lies out the mission to be accomplished: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations by baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.
The last verse of today’s gospel is very important to all of us who are charged with this mission. We should always remember that Jesus is always with us in our ministry. Amen.