Ascension of the Lord 2024 Franciscan Gospel Reflection

Sister JulieAnn Sheahan

May 09, 2024

Franciscan Friar Fr. Paul Gallagher reflects on the Gospel readings for the Ascension of the Lord. What are some departures that have been significant for you? What were the circumstances of those departures? 

The content is edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. To read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here Franciscan Gospel Reflection May 12 2024. Excerpts are from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Photos: NateBergin, CC BY 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons;Nheyob, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

NOTE: Most dioceses in the United States celebrate the feast of the Ascension on the 7th Sunday of Easter. Therefore, the background and reflection questions here will focus on the Gospel for the Feast of the Ascension.

Mark 16:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.


The early Christians understood the Lord’s ascension as part of Jesus’ resurrection, and not as a separate historical event in the life of Jesus. For example, in Luke’s Gospel the events of that first day of the week include the three who were going to anoint the body of Jesus but discover the empty tomb, Jesus’ revealing himself to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, his appearance and commissioning of the disciples in Jerusalem, and his ascension. As Luke records his Gospel, all these things happen on the first day of the week.

The verse immediately before this Gospel reading begins (Mark 16:14) makes it clear that the disciples are at table when Jesus enters their presence. He rebukes them for their lack of faith because they had not believed those who saw him after the resurrection. The Gospel text commissions them to go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel. Those who believe are to be baptized. As proof of their new relationship with Jesus, they will be able to do extraordinary things. Having commissioned them, Jesus is taken up to heaven.

While this Gospel is short (only six verses), it is pivotal. Jesus commissions the disciples to preach the Gospel to all: men and women, Jew and Gentile. They are given extraordinary power.  This is the last directive Jesus gives them before he leaves their company through the power of God to sit at the right hand of God. There can be no doubt that this is by the hand of God that Jesus is taken from them. From this moment on, they will represent God’s presence in the world. With Jesus gone, the Christian community will turn to them for instruction.

Reflection Questions:

  1. We all experience departures as part of our life. What are some departures that have been significant for you? What were the circumstances of those departures? What were the feelings you experienced at the time? What are your feelings now as you recall those experiences?
  2. When have you initiated the departure, and when has it been thrust upon you?
  3. Considering some of departures that came to mind more deeply, how were you shaped or changed by those events?
  4. Has there ever been a time when you felt like God had abandoned you?
  5. Looking into the scriptures, how were the disciples changed by the Ascension?
  6. In the opening line of this Gospel text, Jesus asked the disciples to go into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature. When you hear these words today, what do you hear God saying to you?
  7. Can you take some time now to personally talk with God about whatever it is that arises within you as you reflect with this Gospel text?

Speak Your Mind