CONTINUING THE MISSION
Acts 1:1-11; Ephesians 1:17-23; Matthew 28:16-20
Leonardo da Vinci was working on a large canvas in his studio: he chose the subject, sketched the outline, applied the colours. Then he stopped, summoned one of his students, and invited him to complete the work. The horrified student protested that he was unworthy and unable to complete the work which his master had begun. But da Vinci silenced him: “Will not what I have done inspire you to do your best?”
Our master began his work of proclaiming the good news by what he said and did, and by his passion, death, and resurrection. Then he stopped and summoned his disciples to complete the work.
This is the thrust of the Ascension. Jesus gives his disciples a program (witness to him) and a promise (the Holy Spirit).
This focus comes through beautifully in today’s selection of readings.
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 program and the promise are 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.
There are three aspects about Christian witness.
a) in a court, a witness cannot give hearsay evidence but personal experience; a Christian testifies to a personal experience of God.
b) witness is not of words but of deeds.
c) 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 Spirit, the Comforter (which comes from the Latin fortis, which means strong). The Spirit strengthens the disciples to carry on the mission of Christ.
Like da Vinci’s disciple, we may think we are unworthy and unable to complete the work of our master.
Will his life not inspire us to do our best? How will I witness to Jesus and carry on his mission? Will I live the program and rely on the promise?
By: Fr Dr Mascarenhas Vinod SDB