Photo illustration by Phil Younk
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Based on the Gospel of Matthew 28: 16-20
Incredible! So much has happened since the Last Supper the apostles shared with Jesus – Judas’ betrayal of Jesus and, in his despair over what he had done, killed himself, and Jesus’ dubious trial, execution and death on the cross. Next came that glorious Easter morning with the empty tomb and Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead and his appearances to the apostles. While the apostles indeed saw Jesus, there were some doubters, but this was understandable because of everything they had witnessed.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus calls the apostles back to Galilee and the mountaintop where it all began with the “Sermon on the Mount.” On this day of the Ascension, before he leaves to return to his Father, he says, “All power 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

Although he is leaving, Jesus will not abandon the apostles or us. Jesus promises, “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” How? By the power of the Holy Spirit. Now the apostles will watch, wait and pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, the next great event.

Eternal promise! For 2,000 years, through the apostles and their successors, the church has continued to grow and be spiritually renewed with the help of the Holy Spirit. Helping our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, and the bishops to spread the faith, our priests, men and women religious and lay missionaries continue to travel the world to share Jesus’ teaching and love with people.

Each of us, because of our baptism, can also share Jesus’ teaching and love with those around us, because we have the Holy Spirit living within our hearts. In this way, the church continues to grow and we’ll be ready for the final great event – Jesus’ glorious return at the end of the world. Our reward will be heavenly – happiness with Jesus for all eternity.