Skip to main content

Handing Over – Ascension and Pentecost

It must have been a very difficult day for them. A sad one, too. He had told them they should be glad. “Because”, he said, “If I don’t go, the Spirit will never come to you. Now I am sending you.”It was Chesterton who once wrote: “The really great man is the one who makes others feel great”’. And H G Wells wrote: “The test of greatness is: what did the person leave to grow?”But we know all that and we don’t need great writers to tell us these truths. We know it from our own lived experience, those moments when others who had been responsible for us, made us responsible for ourselves. We know it from the joy we experienced when they allowed us to do something on our own for the first time: a task like caring for someone … or whatever it was.From the beginning God had done the same. God made man and woman rulers and organisers of nature and the world. In Jesus, God did it again. But it is not only Jesus who is the light of the world, it is not only he who is the salt of the earth and the yeast of human life. We, too, are invited to be that light, that salt and that yeast.On Ascension day he said to them: “Go to the city and stay until you are clothed with the power from on high.” And so they went to wait for the Spirit to manifest herself in them.  Before moving beyond their sight, Jesus also told them to continue his saving activity in the world. They were to be his witnesses. They were, in effect, commissioned to lead people to conversion by proclaiming the Good News to everyone. And this they did, beginning at Pentecost, with an infectious burst of fervour that has continued to inspire right up to our own time.   It was at Pentecost that they realised what he had meant when he had handed his mission over to them.The Ascension, then, was not the conclusion of Jesus’s redemptive work. Rather, it simply marked the handing over of his mission to his disciples and, in turn, to their disciples and finally to us. In a sense, the Ascension is the beginning in faith of our response to all that he did and which we must continue in his name. Although Jesus has ascended to the Father, thanks to the power of the Spirit unleashed at Pentecost, he continues his saving work in our world in and through each one of us.

Declan Ganly

Author Declan Ganly

More posts by Declan Ganly

Leave a Reply