The Ascension of the Lord
MK 16:15-20
May 13, 2018

We’ll start with a little geography lesson.

Bethany was, and to this very day, is a little village that is located on the crest of the Mount of Olives. It is separated by a valley from the city of Jerusalem a little more than a mile walk from the city gate. Presently, it is within the boundaries of the Palestinian territory referred to as “the West Bank” and is known by the Arabic name “al-Eizariya,” which means “place of Lazarus.” The modern day village is well named because on the outskirts of the village, there is a deep cave, reputed to be the tomb from which Jesus called Lazarus back from the dead. Lazarus lived in Bethany with his sisters Martha and Mary. Jesus was a frequent house guest of this family. Finally, Jesus chose this location to ascend back to heaven.

Now for a Scripture lesson.

In Bethany, Jesus resolved a domestic dispute between Martha and Mary, by explaining to Martha that her sister was wise to sit at His feet and listen and learn from Him. Later, He relieved the grieving sisters by calling their dead brother out from the burial cave, where he had been entombed for four days. During this dramatic encounter, The Lord also relieved the doubts and fears of all God’s people. Jesus said to Martha: I am the Resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Finally, Jesus chose this location before ascending back to heaven to renew His promise to send The Holy Spirit into the world to empower believers to bear witness to all that He had done and taught.

Now for a lesson in Christian anthropology.

For human beings, death is inevitable. But, through our faith in Jesus Christ, we come to know and better understand that, somehow, our personal identity continues after the biological event we call death. Finally, from the events in this little village, we are challenged to go out into the world, reaching out in a loving way to nonbelievers, and sharing all we have learned through our visits to two little villages…Bethlehem and Bethany.

We are witnesses to all that took place during the years in which Jesus walked the earth. We have sat at His feet and learned from Him. Through our Baptisms, we have received the Holy Spirit, Whom The Lord promised to send. We are now called to help shape the future, according to The Law of Love, so that humankind can live in the Peace of Christ while we await Jesus’s return in Glory.