The Ascension of the Lord

Go into the whole world and pro­claim the gospel. (Mark 16:15)

What a simple, but immense, charge Jesus gave to his disciples! He even told them that those who accepted their message would be saved, while those who didn’t would be condemned.

Imagine their reaction: Really, Lord? We’re just fishermen. You can’t expect us to go out and save the whole human race! But Jesus made this a win-win situation. He did send his apostles out to preach and convert the world, but he didn’t send them alone. He made it so that people would be baptized not on the basis of the disciples’ preaching skills but in response to his own grace at work in their hearts. As the twelve became more open to the Spirit, grace would flow more powerfully. Yes, they had to become good at preaching, but they knew that God was even better.

Likewise, the more open we are to God, the more his grace will flow through us. This is part of the won­der of the Christian life: God takes every “yes” that any of his followers says and fills it with his own divine “Yes!” Every time we sit in his pres­ence in prayer, he fills us with even more of his presence to take into the world. It does take effort on our part, but that human effort is so small when compared to the divine strength that accompanies it. Just as Mary’s “yes” to the angel Gabriel set in motion the biggest change in human history, our “yes” to the Lord will cause a chain reaction far beyond our expectations.

On this Feast of the Ascension, let’s rejoice with the saints who have come before us, and let’s com­mit ourselves to preaching to the saints who will come after us. None of the apostles could have guessed how far their “yes” to Jesus would take them—or how much fruit they would bear for the kingdom. And neither can we. There is much work left to be done, but our God is with us, and his promises are true.

“Yes, Jesus! Thank you for calling me into your service!”