June 1, 2014

The Ascension of the Lord

Matthew is the only one of the evangelists who does not speak explicitly of or recount the departure of Jesus from his followers. Mark and Luke recount the Ascension, each in his own way; and John consistently has Jesus speak of the necessity of his departure so the Paraclete might come. Matthew situates his final scene for Jesus on top of a mountain in Galilee (not outside Jerusalem, as Luke does). This is the region where his mission originated, and throughout his Gospel the mountaintop has been the place for him to teach his followers. (We are familiar with the “Sermon on the Mount” from Matthew.) And here Jesus re‑echoes those Ascension themes we hear from the other evangelists: It is Jesus himself, risen and glorified, charged with power from the Father, who sends us out; it is Jesus himself who gives us our mission to baptize, heal, teach, and proclaim the Good News of salvation; it is Jesus himself who will be with us always, as we continue to be his presence alive in the world.


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