As we celebrate this Ascension Sunday, we hear Jesus give His commission to His disciples. The last thing He says to his disciples before He ascends to heaven to be with His Father is to tell them to go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News.
I think that it had to be terrifying for the disciples (and maybe a little bit terrifying for Jesus) because He was literally giving the Church into their hands. He was commissioning them to go out to the entire world and preach the Good News. From that point on, we wouldn’t hear directly from Jesus. Now we hear from His apostles who continue to proclaim the Good News today.
Today we also celebrate the World Communications Day. Every year the Holy Father picks this day, which is the same day every year. It’s to be the world day where we focus on how we’re communicating and how we’re taking the message of Jesus and proclaiming it to the whole world. That’s what I want us all to think about a little bit as disciples.
Just like Jesus commissioned His disciples before He went to heaven, we’re commissioned. At every single Mass the priest says, “Go forth and announce the Good News to the world.“ We are commissioned to go forth and to bring the Church to the entire world.
Our parish just went to Italy a few weeks ago. I took 34 people from the parish, and we were able to go to Rome. Now it’s really interesting because Rome is the heart of the Church, the epicenter of the Church. But if you think about it, that’s not where the Church started, did it? It didn’t really start in Rome. It started in Jerusalem. But it wasn’t until the Church got to Rome, where Peter and some of the apostles were martyred, that the faith went viral.
It began to be spread all over the world. At that time, Rome was really the center of the world. It was the epicenter of the world where everything came from. Now where do you think the epicenter of the world is today?
Go ahead, shout it out if you know. Where is the epicenter of the world today? You don’t know? You live there. America, the United States.
We live in the epicenter of the world. Sometimes, we don’t realize the whole world is watching what we do. The whole world is seeing what we do. The epicenter of America is often New York City, right? Everything comes from New York City.
One year I made an eight-day silent retreat. I was with Fr. Benedict Roschelle. He lived in the Bronx. At the end of my retreat, someone said, “Hey, before you get on your plane, do you want to go to Manhattan?” I said, “Sure.”
We went to Times Square. Now mind you, I had spent eight days in silence in prayer, and then I’m walking down Times Square. It was unbelievable. I was surrounded by billboards, LED signs, people passing by, people doing entertainment on the street, and news cameras. It was just unbelievable. So crazy. Well, we live right now in the epicenter of the world, in America. People from all over the world are watching what we do. The whole world is seeing what we do.
The other amazing thing that is happening in our age is this explosion of social media. This is really a unique and amazing time in our history. Right now, like never before, we are able to communicate with people all over the world.
So some of you might know I frequently do this show with Fr. Jeremy in the rectory on Monday nights. We do a show for about an hour, which includes singing a little song, having some entertainment, and talking about the upcoming Sunday readings. Out of the rectory, we’re reaching people from Australia, New Zealand, Italy, and Canada. All over the world people are watching. It’s so amazing what we have at our fingertips today.
The Church, in this document that the Holy Father released for World Communications Day, encourages us to support and to be a part of anyone who is doing ministry like that, really helping people to reach out to the whole world. It really is amazing if you think about it.
I was ordained 11 years ago (yesterday was my anniversary). When I was newly ordained, I didn’t have a smartphone. It wasn’t until a couple of years after my ordination that I finally got a smartphone. So, I was ordained before the era of smartphones. Well, now everyone has one, right?
We can look on our smartphone and see live streaming video of people. We can Skype with our family members. We can do these amazing things that were only like a dream 10 or 20 years ago.
Why do I bring this all up in the homily today?
Jesus, before He ascended into heaven, commissioned His disciples and said go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News, and they did. They went out to the whole world. They went to the epicenter of the world and all of a sudden the faith went viral. And if you think about it, 2,000 years later, there’s not a continent, there’s not a country, there’s not a society that the Catholic Church is not a part of. It’s such an amazing feat. But right now, He wants to commission you to go out into the whole world.
He wants the Church to be right here in Concord, Ohio. He wants the Church to be in your schools. He wants the Church to be in your families. He wants the Church to be in your workplace. He wants the Church to go out to the whole world. I want you first to think about that for yourself. Just ask yourself, am I doing that? Am I proclaiming the Good News to the whole world wherever I go? Am I doing that? And secondly, if I am not doing it, or if I am doing it, how can I do more of it?
In some way, maybe the Lord is inviting us to do more of it. What’s one small thing I could do this week to bring the Good News to the whole world – because ultimately, Jesus has handed the Church over to us. Now, it’s really up to us to proclaim the Good News, to take Him to everywhere. And, just like 2,000 years ago when He commissioned his disciples, at the end of every Mass you’re commissioned in a very special way.
You girls that are receiving your First Communion, you’re going to be Jesus in the world today. You’re going to carry Jesus in you wherever you go. You’re going to be like a bright light in the world.
May God bless you and truly use you to be His disciples, that we may go to the ends of the world proclaiming the Good News.