Excerpt from “The Ascension of Christ and the New Evangelization”
by Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio
The Solemnity of the Ascension celebrates many things, among them the Great Commission to preach the gospel to all nations. Thus, it is a fitting time to ponder the call of Pope John Paul II to a “new evangelization.”
…the Ascension… is about sharing in Jesus’ joy… rejoicing that his crown of thorns has been replaced with the kingly crown, that the mocking crowd at Calvary has been replaced with myriads of adoring angels. The Ascension is about Jesus’ triumph and glorification… It is also a feast of hope. Yes, there is something in it for us. He goes to prepare a place for us (John 14:2). We will also one day wear crowns made of gold instead of thorns… For us to endure until that blessed moment, we need divine power.
…As he ascends, he tells the disciples to wait for this power. But notice that he does not tell them to wait passively for the rapture. He does not instruct them to pour over Bible prophecies, debating about how and when he will return… The waiting is not to be a squandering of precious time. It is waiting for a purpose, nine days of prayer (the first novena!) leading to empowerment. Why empowerment? Because they have challenging work to do. “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.”
We used to think that evangelization was something that happened… far away, carried out by priests and religious. But… every single Catholic is called to be an evangelist. Pope John Paul II proclaimed this as the “New Evangelization” because the place is new–right next door–and the missionaries are new since they include all us all.
…You may not called to preach on street corners, but… we all must be ready to articulate what Jesus has done for us, what he means to us, and why he is the answer to the world’s problems…. pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to move in and through you, and… keep learning more about your faith so that you can share it with ever greater confidence.