Working with the Word

(For Ascension Sunday)

Focusing the Gospel

Key words and phrases: Witnesses of these things, clothed with power from on high, blessed them, did him homage, great joy

To the point: Jesus’ last earthly gesture toward the disciples was to bless them. In response, the disciples “did him homage” and experienced “great joy.” This response was not to Jesus’ departure from them, but was an expression of a new relationship to him, the risen One. Now instead of accompanying him in his ministry, they were “clothed with power from on high” to be his presence and do his ministry. In essence, Jesus’ last gesture toward the disciples was to empower them to be “witnesses of these things.”

Connecting the Gospel …

... to the first reading: The “power from on high” with which Jesus promised his disciples would be clothed before his ascension is made explicit in the first reading. It is the Holy Spirit whom they receive and who empowers them to be faithful witnesses “to the ends of the earth.”

... to experience: When a strong cultic leader is present, a cult thrives and grows. In the absence of such a leader, a cult most often diminishes. This is not so with Christianity. The ascension of Jesus prepares the way for the powerful and enduring presence of the Holy Spirit in the disciples who continue his ministry and witness to his risen presence.

**From Saint Louis University

Kristin Clauson