Run the Good Race

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

May 12 or 16, 2021 – The Ascension of the Lord - Mark 16:15-20

Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.

I have a grandson who is a high school athlete, a runner. One of his specialties is the relay races where four young speedsters encircle the track in sequence, passing what’s called a baton to the one whose turn it is to next run for the team.

Two special skills are needed for success. Speed afoot and facility is passing the baton from one runner to the next. Good teams practice both aspects of the race. Failure in either area inevitably results in losing the race.

In a sense, today’s gospel for the feast celebrating the Ascension of Jesus from earth to heaven, can be thought of as like a relay race. Jesus has completed his part of the race (figuratively speaking) and he is passing a “baton” to us to do the next part. As we do, we are told both the direction to take, and what to do while running. Recall what Mark’s gospel for today states: “Go into the whole world (the direction to run) and proclaim the gospel to every creature (the task).”

For two-thousand years members of “Team Jesus” have been circling the world, baton in hand. As St. Paul wrote, “Running the good race.”

When I read this challenge from Jesus in my earlier days, I concluded that I was being called to be a foreign missionary in Africa. “Going into the whole world” meant for me leaving the country in which I was born and going to a distant place. I never embarked for that world. Instead my mission was to remain in the county where I was born. 

I now have the baton in hand – as do you. I won’t comment on how fast I am now running (not very) but I’m still in the race. Since I never went to the foreign missions, my “assigned” world became more local, with a large part of that world being my family. Beside that setting I run “the race” in my neighborhood, in my career as an educator, a theologian and a writer.

Each of us in given a part of the world to enter and make our run. And in that world, we are not only invited to proclaim the gospel, but even more importantly, to embody its meaning in our actions each day. In that sense, according to Pope Francis, we are all missionaries – meaning those sent by God to continue the work of Jesus. We now carry the baton for the God team in the place where we awoke this morning.

©David M. Thomas, PhD

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