(Luke 24:46-53) I love airports! They are always full of people coming and going. There are tears of joy and excitement as loved ones arrive, and nostalgic tears of sadness as we say goodbye. We know in particular that the words that we speak as we prepare to depart are important. We know that it is our last chance to share whatever is on our hearts before we leave.
Today, Jesus is preparing His disciples for His imminent departure. He is about to ascend into Heaven – to leave earth for the last time. Since His Resurrection, Jesus has appeared to His disciples on many occasions. He has been encouraging them, affirming their faith, and opening their minds to the truths of the Scriptures. He knows that if they are going to carry on His work, it is important for them to understand everything that has happened. Although they have witnessed everything that has taken place, up until this point they have not fully understood what it has all meant. Jesus explains that His Death and Resurrection were all foretold in the Old Testament – that everything that has come about has been a fulfillment of those prophecies. He now commissions them to spread the Gospel in His place. They are to go to all nations – beginning with the city of Jerusalem – preaching in His name and proclaiming the Good News.
Unlike our earthly departures, there are no tears of sadness as Jesus ascends into Heaven. Although He will no longer be physically present to the disciples, Jesus promises to be with them in Spirit. When He is gone, the Holy Spirit will come to teach and strengthen them. “I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high” (Lk 24:49).
This promise of Jesus is made not only to the disciples. Through the Sacraments – especially in Baptism and Confirmation – the Holy Spirit comes to each one of us, to enlighten us and to bless us with the abundant gifts of our loving heavenly Father. Empowered with His strength, we, like the first disciples, are called to go out in the world to share the Good News of Jesus with everyone we meet. Clothed with power from on high, we will never be alone.
– Sharon van der Sloot