In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. "This," he said, "is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?" He replied, "It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven."
All you peoples, clap your hands,
shout to God with cries of gladness.
For the Lord, the Most High, the awesome,
is the great king over all the earth. (R./)
God mounts his throne amid shouts of joy;
the Lord, amid trumpet blasts.
Sing praise to God, sing praise;
sing praise to our king, sing praise. (R./)
For king of all the earth is God;
sing hymns of praise.
God reigns over the nations,
God sits upon his holy throne. (R./)
I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority 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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
Today's gospel gives us the Lord's final instructions, his Last Will and Testament. I heard of a woman who was troubled over making her will. In her village, making a will, like receiving "The Last Sacraments" was generally postponed until the last moment, as a kind of giving up on life. But it is not unknown for families to split up bitterly just because someone hadn't made their will in time. In today's gospel, Jesus is very definite about what he has to say. Like any gathering of people, the feelings of his disciples were varied. But he sends them out to speak and act in his name.
Just before leaving them, he reminds them of what he expects of them. Earlier he had sent them out to spread the Kingdom of God. Those who go in his name, do so with his authority. The authority goes with the mission, so to speak. In Matthew's version he now adds this great promise, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Mark says that the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it". And Luke emphasises that they will be "clothed with power from on high", that is, with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
The mission of the apostles was simple to understand; difficult to carry out. It was to teach others all that he had taught them. Just as he asked his disciples to obey him, they were to ask that others should obey his directions and instructions also. This is like when a doctor puts you on a course of antibiotics. The original sin was a lie. The Spirit is a spirit of truth. One of the rules about antibiotics is to complete the course. If people begin to feel well after a few days, they might discontinue taking the medicine, so allowing their condition gets worse. The message of salvation must continue until the end of time. With all the changes in the church and in society, the two things that have not changed are Jesus himself and his message. The Message and the Messenger have not, and will not change. People troubled by changes in the church today should remember that the basics that matter have not changed at all.
You write a new page of the gospel each day,
through the things that you do and the words that you say.
Others read what you write, be it faithful or true.
So what is the gospel according to you?
He is with us at all times. This can be a real help against falling into depression. There is a difference between being alone and being lonely. I could be in the midst of a crowd, and be lonely; while one can also feel, like Cicero, never less alone than when alone ( "minus solum, quam cum solus" De officiis 3.1). This applies especially to those who treasure his promise, "l am with you always." Communicating with him doesn't even need words. If I am open to His presence in my life, and live with a conscious awareness of his presence, I can experience fully that Joy of the Gospel about which Pope Francis spoke so warmly.