Based on the Gospel of Luke 24: 46-53

The great goodbye! In this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus is giving his apostles final instructions to carry God’s love and forgiveness to the entire world. He explains that his suffering and death on the cross and his Resurrection all happened just as it had been foretold. Indeed, Luke’s Gospel emphasizes that God the Father had a plan, and Jesus’ ministry fulfilled that plan.

Jesus reminds his apostles that sorrow for sins and forgiveness of sins are to be preached in his name all over the world. Jesus says, “You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Then Jesus leads the apostles to Bethany, a village near Jerusalem. He raises his hands and blesses them. As he blesses them, Jesus leaves them and is taken up to heaven to return to his Father. Astonished, and perhaps still recovering from all that has happened since Jesus’ crucifixion and Resurrection, the apostles understand Jesus has completed his mission.

This Sunday Gospel’s brief account of Jesus’ Ascension into heaven ends St. Luke’s Gospel. The apostles return to Jerusalem to spend time in prayer as they await the power of the Holy Spirit to teach them the full meaning of Jesus’ Gospel message and to make them powerful evangelizers and witnesses for Jesus. How all this happens is found in St. Luke’s other book, The Acts of the Apostles.

Jesus ascended to heaven to prepare a place for us with his Father. Even though we don’t see Jesus visibly on earth as the apostles did, he is present in the church through the Holy Spirit, through his Word, and through the sacraments. As baptized Catholics, we too are called, like his early followers, to witness for Jesus.

Jesus’ Ascension into heaven is the second Glorious Mystery of the Rosary. Say your rosary with special attention during this month of May, Mary’s month, as you meditate on the events in her Son Jesus’ life.

Lord Jesus, help us to be witnesses of your saving love. Let your love be our guide so we may be quick to love and forgive in your name.