Sunday May 16, Ascension of the Lord

Gospel of Mark 16:15–20

The Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.

As I reflect on this Gospel today, I am struck by two things that seem so important for living the Good News of the Gospel in today’s world.

Firstly, Jesus said to his disciples to proclaim the gospel to every creature. Surely, this is a clear call towards sharing love, peace and justice with all of creation.  The insects, animals, birds, fish, and their habitats even the whole cosmos.

Today with our covid19 global pandemic, so many creatures in our beautiful but troubled world know with experience how care of creation is intimately linked with care of each other.

Secondly, there is an invitation to recognise Jesus’ Spirit by the five things Jesus says accompany believing in him. Namely, driving out demons, speaking new languages, picking up serpents or drinking deadly things and not being harmed, curing the sick. 

I ponder -where this evidence of Jesus Spirit is in my life today?

driving out demons – is listening to the deep story in another in a way that releases inner tormenting thought patterns.

speaking new languages – dialoguing with others from other cultures and learning new words and ways of being in the world.

picking up serpents with my hands – not being afraid of evil, those things that harm us but instead confronting it intimately when I see it and knowing that it is not harmful in the face of love.

drinking any deadly thing – if I consume anything that is deadly in my body and find I am not harmed then I need to acknowledge the work of the healing spirit. Whether it be through medicines, care of the staff in hospitals or some inexplicable reason. Jesus wants me to recognise his Spirit at work in this. Jesus spirit is one of healing love.

laying hands on the sick and they recover – as a physio I love this one. Over thirty years of practice has taught me that healing really is a mystery – touch is extraordinary and if I can work in love and freedom open to the Spirit’s healing ways, recovery happens – even if in chronic and terminal conditions recovery means recovering one’s self in the all consuming suffering -letting go into a healing that leads one to inner peace and acceptance is at the heart of all healing.

I ponder Jesus spirit through these various signs in my life today.

In my prayer I respond to Jesus as a believer and friend and listen to what he says.