Go out to the whole world! Proclaim the Good News! (Mark 16:16)
Nowadays, when someone witnesses an extraordinary event, the question which is always asked, after enquiring what actually happened, is "and how did you feel?" It seems in our day we are obsessed not only by knowing what took place, but also finding out how it touched people, what their emotional response was, how they felt.
The Ascesion is certainly an extraordinary event. So how did the disciples feel? It must have been a mixed bag of emotions. Sadness, distress even, that the close presence of Jesus they had known these past 40 days is to come to an end. Apprehension also, perhaps, that they now will need to make their way without his inspiration and leadership. Fear, no doubt, that they too might have to suffer persecution and hatred. Bewilderment, at what had taken place, struggling to sense of it all.
And in the midst of this turmoil of emotions, a clear message breaks through from the Lord himself. Not really words of comfort or reassurance - more words of inspiration and challenge: Go out to the whole world! Proclaim the Good News!
This is not a time for sorrow or fear, he is saying. Not even a time for joy and celebration. It is a time for action.
This is not a time to fear for the faith, but a time to spread it.
This is not a time to cower or hide to avoid persecution or ridicule, but a time to hold our heads high!
This is not a time to puzzle over what it all means, but to proclaim the truth with confidence.
It was true then. And it is true now.