THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD
acts 1:1-11; ephesians 1:17-23; matthew 28:16-20
a hindu came to a bishop. he had read the gospels. they fascinated him. he read on… in the gospels, it was JESUS—his works, his teachings, his death and resurrection. in the acts, it was the disciples. the church continued where JESUS had left off. this man told the bishop: «i must belong to the church that continues the mission of CHRIST.»
this is what we celebrate today: we continue where JESUS left off! he gives his disciples a programme (witness to him) and a promise (the power from on high).
in the gospel, JESUS commissions his disciples to teach all nations and to make disciples of them. he promises to be with them «always, until the end of the age.»
in the first reading, the programme and the promise is similar. JESUS calls his disciples to be his «witnesses in jerusalem, throughout judea and samaria, and to the ends of the earth» and promises them the power of the SPIRIT.
first, in a court of law, a witness cannot give hearsay evidence; it must be his/her personal experience. a christian witness is someone who testifies to a personal experience of GOD.
second, witness is not of words but of deeds. after henry stanley had spent some time with livingstone in africa, he said: «had i lived any longer with him, i would have been compelled to become a christian, and he never spoke to me about CHRIST at all.»
third, the greek word for witness and for martyr is the same: «martus». to be a witness means to live the mission of CHRIST no matter what the cost.
christian witness sounds a tough task. and it is… if we attempt it alone. that’s why JESUS promises his presence and the power of the SPIRIT to strengthen his disciples.
the ascension calls us to carry on the mission of CHRIST with the power of the SPIRIT. how will i be JESUS’ witness and carry on his mission? will i live the programme and rely on the promise?