In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus’ last words to His apostles before His Ascension into Heaven, completing His mission on this earth. As He’s about to return to the Father, Jesus tells His apostles to “go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” How important must this be to Jesus and His plan, since these are the words on His mind before He ascends into Heaven!
Jesus speaks the same words to us today. The same words He spoke to His apostles before His Ascension, He says to us today: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” We are called to spread the Good News of Jesus to all the world: to share the love, mercy, and presence of God to all those who are unaware of this reality. Following Jesus’ final command to His apostles, we are called to bring the world to Jesus one person at a time, as Bishop Frank likes to say.
Most of the time, this happens in a subtle way in our everyday lives. Rather than standing on a soapbox on a street corner, we spread the Gospel by using the “most personal gifts that God has placed in our hearts (cf. 1 Cor 12:7), rather than hopelessly trying to imitate something not meant for [us]” (Gaudete et Exsultate11). We spread the Gospel in our workplaces, in our schools, in our homes, and in our families through our words and actions. In a word, we spread the Gospel through our example, through our Christ-likeness. We spread the Gospel at all times, only using words when necessary.
Now that sounds like quite the challenge from the Lord right before His Ascension. But there’s good news: Jesus promises to be with us through the whole process! He tells us that He will be with us always, even to the end of the age (cf. Matthew 28:20). He also tells us that He will send an Advocate – the Holy Spirit – to be with us and to help us too. Next Sunday, May 20, we will celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit, who is the giver of all good gifts, on Pentecost. Jesus’ Ascension – and his final command to His apostles and to us – is closely connected to the coming of the Holy Spirit, who gave the apostles and gives us the courage to spread the Gospel in whatever way He is asking us to do so.
Today, let’s take a moment to reflect on this command of the Lord to spread the Gospel to all parts of the world. How are we doing in fulfilling this desire of Jesus? How can we spread the Gospel in our daily lives? How can we show the face of Christ to a hurting world? While we’re reflecting on these questions, let’s take comfort in the fact that Jesus is with us through the whole process of evangelization, as He promised. Take comfort in the Holy Spirit’s presence in the midst of our efforts to spread the Good News. With them at our sides, nothing is impossible. So let’s go out and bring the world to Jesus, one person at a time.