“Go Out Into The Whole World”
In all likelihood this conclusion to Mark’s Gospel was not written by Mark himself, but later added as a ‘rounding off’ and summary of all the Easter appearances of Jesus.
Thus in this passage we have in abbreviated form the appearance to Mary Magdalene and to the two disciples at Emmaus; the appearance to the Eleven, and the mission to proclaim the Good News; and finally, a quick statement about the Ascension of the Lord.
Today we tend to see the Resurrection and the Ascension as two distinct events, separated in time. This is not so. Both Resurrection and Ascension, although celebrated in two different liturgical feasts, are in fact a single expression of the glory and exaltation of the Lord Jesus after his passion and death. Some Gospel writers see the moment of Jesus’s death as his moment of exaltation.
Others present it as “being taken up into heaven” physically. Still others use the term “seated at the right hand of God”, an allusion to a king’s coronation. In every instance writers are grappling to express a spiritual reality in terms which make sense to us on earth. The descriptions they use are diverse; the meaning they express is the same.
And what is that ? The Risen Lord Jesus is now Spirit and sends his spirit of empowerment upon all his disciples, giving them the same mission that he had – to proclaim the Good News to all creation, inviting all mankind to a new life in Jesus through baptism in his name.
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