giovedì 10 maggio 2018

«Domino cooperante et sermonem confirmante»

In the whole New Testament it is said that Christ is now seated at the right hand of the Father. However, only some books of the New Testament openly speak of the ascension of Jesus into heaven. The place where this event is described with plenty of details is the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles, as we have heard in the first reading, where Jesus, before being lifted up, confirms the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit, who will make the disciples witnesses to the ends of the earth. 

Another place where we find an explicit reference to the ascension is the end of the gospel of Mark. Here Jesus commissions the Apostles to go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to everyone, and assures them that the believers will be accompanied by extraordinary signs. The evangelist points out that, after the ascension, the Apostles “went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word (Domino cooperante et sermonem confirmante) through accompanying signs.” That is exactly the mystery of the ascension: Jesus is now in heaven, seated at the right hand of the Father; but he keeps being with his disciples on the earth; he works with them and confirms their word with signs. Without the invisible presence of Jesus, all efforts of the disciples would remain without effect; it is he who makes fruitful their mission; it is he who makes effective their preaching; it is he who opens the hearts of people to faith.

We find a reference to the ascension even in the second reading. Here Saint Paul, quoting Psalm 68, highlights other two points, “He ascended on high and took prisoners captive; he gave gifts to men.” Ascending into heaven, Jesus freed us, who were prisoners of sin, and showered us with gifts. These gifts are the charisms distributed among the disciples. Jesus entrusts one mission to his Church, but each one in the Church will accomplish the same mission in a different way, according to their own charisms: “He gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers.” It is not necessary that in the Church all should do the same things; each one has their own task; doing our duty, we accomplish the one mission Jesus entrusted to the Church. What matters is to work all with the same goal: to build up the body of Christ, to attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature to manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ.