In most dioceses of the United States, the feast of the Ascension of the Lord is celebrated on this Seventh Sunday after Easter instead of on “Ascension Thursday.” The actual description of the Ascension is in the first reading today, from Acts of the Apostles. We are tempted to focus on the magical image of Jesus floating away into the sky! But the main idea of that reading is what Jesus tells his apostles — that they will soon receive the Spirit so that they can be witnesses. Our Gospel today picks up that theme: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” Pope Francis, and before him Popes Benedict and John Paul II, all emphasize that we all are to be missionary disciples. How different from years ago when being a “missionary” meant going to foreign lands, learning another language and enduring often challenging living situations far from family and friends. Today these readings and our popes ask us to witness as missionaries right where we are — to live lives that show we are believers, and say words that show we are believers, in our families, our workplaces, the grocery store, the ball games and everywhere we find ourselves. This is hard to do! We Americans tend to want our religion to be between me and God, not on public display. As we prepare for Pentecost next week, we pray to receive the words and the courage to be missionary disciples.
– Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia