Gifts for Mission

Today’s feast follows the Lukan picture of the exaltation of Jesus. Only Luke has a 40-day schema followed by Pentecost, and while the day is called the Ascension of the Lord, the focus of the readings is on the exaltation of Jesus, who commissions his followers to carry on his mission. The church, like the disciples, is not to stand looking at the sky but is to carry on Jesus’ mission to the ends of the earth.

This appears dramatically in the reading from Ephesians, which begins with the ringing exhortation to the seven unitiesone body, one spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of allthat have motivated ecumenical movements from the beginning.

Advertisement

The ascension of Jesus is the reason that the exalted Jesus, like an enthroned monarch, can dispense gifts. These gifts are then the different offices and ministries given to the church, which Ephesians expresses in an important manner: And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ, until we all attain the unity of faith.

In contrast to some earlier translations, the work of ministry is the mission of all the saints, and the function of the offices, prophets, etc. is to equip them for this work. This section of Ephesians should permeate all discussion of mission and ministry today.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

The Evangelists had come to believe that Jesus was indeed the bearer of divine authority.
Michael SimoneOctober 05, 2018
Mark’s community found themselves waiting for deliverance during a time of great distress.
Michael SimoneOctober 05, 2018
Only a life spent pursuing the love of God will leave something that survives the encounter with death.
Michael SimoneSeptember 21, 2018
God’s dream for humanity is bigger than the social realities of the day.
Michael SimoneSeptember 21, 2018