Jesus said to his disciples:
“Go into the whole world
and proclaim the gospel to every creature.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved;
whoever does not believe will be condemned.
These signs will accompany those who believe:
in my name they will drive out demons,
they will speak new languages.
They will pick up serpents with their hands,
and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.
They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them,
was taken up into heaven
and took his seat at the right hand of God.
But they went forth and preached everywhere,
while the Lord worked with them
and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.-Mark 16:15-20
Today we celebrate the ascension of the Lord. With his earthly mission now complete Jesus has some last words for his disciples. He tells them to go and preach the Gospel to every creature. Mark phrases slightly different that Matthew and Luke. In Matthew’s Gospel Christ tells the disciples to go to all nations and teach them all that he commanded and to baptize in the name of the blessed Trinity (Matthew 28:19-20). Luke’s version takes place in the first chapter of Acts, and he writes that Christ commanded the disciples to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, and the rest of the world (Acts 1:1-11).
These were the last words of Christ on earth and they were significant. When we lose a loved one we remember the last words that were spoken. We remember them and we cherish them, and we try to fulfill their last wishes. We should do the same with these last earthly words of Christ. After 2,000 years the church is still spreading that Gospel message as Christ commanded, but what are you and I doing individually?
We have a tendency to think that this is the work of our priests and deacons, but spreading the Gospel is the duty of all of us as disciples of Christ. Are we taking these words of Christ seriously? This doesn’t mean that we have to go overseas. We can be that witness at work, with our families at home, and in our neighborhoods. May we go forth today and spread the Gospel as Christ commanded.
The minute you walk outside of your church on Sunday you’re in mission territory.
Bishop Robert Barron