Ascension Sunday. May 28, 2017 [Matthew 28:16-20]
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Mat 28:18)”
However, in the Gospel of Matthew, we have a fundamentally different story of Ascension. In fact, Matthew has technically no story of Ascension. In the last part of Matthew’a Gospel, neither Jesus was taken into heaven nor did He leave. What Jesus did was to send the disciples to make disciples of all nations, to baptize them and to teach them. It is actually the disciples who are moving away from Jesus. The Gospel of Matthew ends with Jesus’ promise that He will be with His disciples until the end of time. It is clear that in Matthew, Jesus never left His disciples. As the disciples were moving on with their new lives as apostles, Jesus remained and journey together with them.
I entered the minor seminary as early as 14. As I was leaving my home, it was not easy both for me and my parents. There were psychological anxieties and emotional longings to go home. But, the feelings subsided after some time, and a big factor was that my parents allowed and supported my decision to be away from them. They set me free and allowed me to go as a mature man creating his own destiny. Yet, I also realize that they actually never leave me. Biologically speaking, I have in my body the genes of my parents. Not only that, my actions reflect the upbringing that they provided me. From them, I learn the love for God and the Church, discipline and hard work, and basic leadership skills. What people see is me, but what I give them are coming from my parents.
In Ascension, Jesus does not keep us under His arms, He does not suppress our growth, and He does not want that we remain childish permanently. Jesus sets us, His disciples, free and empowers us to become men and women who forge our own paths. We need to leave Jesus so we may become His mature and free apostles. Yet, He never leaves us. We bring Jesus with us because Jesus has formed us in His image. As we receive Jesus from our parents, teachers, catechists, and priests, and after living with Jesus as His disciples, now it is our turn to preach and share Jesus to others, as we make all nations His disciples.
Br. Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP