Ascension (A) 2017

The instruction Jesus of Nazareth gave to his followers before he was executed was that they should go to Galilee where he would meet them again. Mtt. ‘But after I have been raised up, I shall go before you to Galilee.’ And the women who went to the tomb early on Sunday morning were told; Mtt. ‘Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.’ Why must the disciples of Jesus go to Galilee to see the Risen Lord? It was in Galilee, one of the poorest, most backward districts of Palestine, that Jesus of Nazareth exercised his ministry. It was here, among the poor and the dispossessed, that Jesus, we are told, went about doing good, healing the sick, sharing what he had with the hungry and speaking to them of the Good News of the Kingdom of God. So it was in Galilee that Jesus, the Risen Lord, gave his followers their mandate. This mandate was to continue the work he did in Galilee. His followers lived with him for a couple of years in Galilee, witnessing everything he did and said. Now their mandate was to continue this work until the end of time. They were to do this, not just on an individual level but as a community of His followers. This community or Church was the symbol of their being part of the community of God; the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Being Baptised was a visible sign of their entry into the unity of this community or church. This community and the work it does is what Jesus of Nazareth called ‘the Kingdom of God.’ They would not be left to continue his ministry on their own. Just as he was physically present with them in Galilee as their mentor, exemplar and guide, so too now he would continue to be with them but not visibly so, except to the eyes of faith. So that is the mandate given to us, the parish of St. Patrick, in Corsham. As one community or church or parish we are to go about doing good, bringing healing to the sick and the grieving, feeding the hungry, and speaking of, and living according to, the Good News of the Kingdom of God.