Ascension – A
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After all the running, after a day’s work, after a holiday or a trip, we always long for home. Home is where our heart is; home is where our beloved is. It is where our loved ones are. When we are at home, we can be ourselves without any fear and bask in the joys of life. It is where we are loved and accepted in spite of our imperfections and shortcomings; where no one keeps a record of our mistakes and sins.
Ascension is the homecoming of Jesus. When he became a human being, he left heaven and became like a prodigal son to his Father. He knew that his home is not of world and that’s what he said to his disciples: “There are many rooms in my father’s house; I will go and prepare a room for you; one day I will come back to take you with me so that where I am you will also be” (Jn 14:2-3). We have a home awaiting for us; we have a Father who has been longing to welcome us. Jesus ascended into heaven because he is our only Way to our true home and he is the only one who can lead us to the Father.
The very first words of Jesus were: “Come and see” (Jn 1:39) and his last words were: Go and make disciples (Mt. 28:19). To “come” was an invitation to be with Jesus, to live with him and to learn from him as disciples. To “go” means to be sent in the mission to the world as his apostles. In between the “coming and going” is the whole public ministry of Jesus. After his public ministry, he had to go back to home and be with his Father.
Our gospel today is the only resurrection appearance of Jesus in the gospel of Matthew as compared to the other evangelists Luke, Mark and John. Situated at the end of Matthew’s gospel, it is about the commissioning of the disciples. The setting was on a mountain. For Matthew, the mountain has been the locus of theophanies or the place where God would manifest himself. Because for Matthew, Jesus is the New Moses, many of the important events in the life of Jesus happened on the mountain: the sermon on the mount, the Transfiguration, the Crucifixion and now the Ascension.
Jesus proclaimed “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” That is a very powerful statement ever spoken by a human being in the history of the world. Then he proceeded with the commissioning to “go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and to teach them everything that he had taught them. The disciples are now are now sent into the world to multiply themselves by the lives of witness and make others disciples of Jesus. Baptism becomes an imperative in the mission so that all peoples may enter into the Trinitarian life: son or daughter of the Father, saved by Jesus, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
One of the sad things we have to cope is letting go of someone we love most either a friend, a family member, a spouse or a loved one. Goodbye is such a bitter word for many of us because it entails unbearable pains and the loss of someone who is part of us. That is why sometimes we do not want to say hello because at the end, whether we like it or not we have to say goodbye. Jesus did not say goodbye but rather he said “I am with you always, to the end of age.” He may have gone physically but he did not leave his disciples. That is so with us, when at the end, everyone whom we love will either leave us or we leave them, Jesus will never leave us. That is the beauty of our faith, if we only believe….