View all Gospel Reflections |
The Ascension of the Lord
Jesus said to his disciples: “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Then he led them out as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to Heaven. They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God.
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, as you ascend into Heaven, I cannot help experiencing a lingering sense of being left orphaned. Lead me to a deeper experience of this final mystery of your earthly life and help me to discover in it the joy of your promise—a promise that is already being fulfilled in my life.
- The Promise of My Father: To the Apostles it may not have seemed so, but by ascending to his Father, Jesus was opening himself to even greater intimacy with them. No longer would their relationship be limited by physical space and time. Through the Holy Spirit, they were to be transformed into dwelling places for the Blessed Trinity, tabernacles of God’s presence here on earth. They were to receive the fullness of the Father’s promise: the promise of divine intimacy that the chosen people had longed for throughout all of salvation history. Jesus came to earth to show us the face of the Father—a Father who is faithful to his promises. There is no falsehood or even potential falsehood in God. His words bring about the very reality they announce. As soon as he has spoken a promise, that promise is fulfilled, even if it might not be evident to us in our limited human perspective which is bound by time. Scripture is full of divine promises— promises that by faith we can know beyond doubt are already accomplished. To what extent have we taken to heart the Father’s promises?
- As He Blessed Them, He Departed: Jesus’ last gesture before ascending to Heaven was to bless his companions. Luke’s narrative, in fact, places him in the very act of blessing them as he was taken up. Perhaps, as previously mentioned, it could even be said that the very fact of his parting was paradoxically a blessing in itself. He would not have left them if this were not true. Jesus had told them that it was better for them that he was to go (John 16:8). The blessing they were to receive was the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in their souls. It is only natural that we might envy the Apostles their firsthand experiences of Jesus during his time on earth, but how much do we value the unfathomable gift of the indwelling of the Holy Trinity in our souls? How aware are we of this great gift?
- They Returned to Jerusalem with Great Joy: Only weeks before, when Jesus had been taken from them, the Apostles had been distraught and afraid. Now, confronted with a new physical separation from their Teacher and Lord, Luke’s Gospel tells us that they came away rejoicing. What had changed? What enabled them to find joy even in the very moment they were being physically separated from Jesus? The Apostles had been transformed by the power of God’s promise and his blessing. Jesus promised them a new kind of intimacy—they were to be “clothed with power from on high.” And Jesus had blessed them as he departed, strengthening them with the power of his love as they awaited the coming of the Holy Spirit. They now knew that, although Jesus was no longer physically among them, his presence could never be taken from them. To what extent do we rejoice in our relationship with the risen Lord? When God seems far away, are we able, in the depths of our heart, to joyfully trust in his unfailing presence?
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, though my limited humanity cannot always see, I believe that your promises are already being fulfilled in my life. Teach me to live in communion with the Holy Trinity dwelling in my soul by grace. Help me to open my eyes to the great gift that is mine, that all that I do might be with you and in you.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will set an alarm to remind me to pause at two different moments to remember that you dwell in my soul. I will offer you a brief act of faith, hope, and love.
For Further Reflection: 35 Promises of God in Scripture.
Teresa Williams grew up in the Detroit, Michigan, area. She felt God’s call to consecrate her life to him at a young age and has been living out her vocation as a consecrated member of Regnum Christi since 2002. She has earned degrees in education and religious sciences and worked with young people in Ireland and several cities in Mexico. Currently, she is living and working in Monterrey, Mexico.
What did you think?
Share your review! Just log in or create your free account.
This reflection was so much more powerful than the homily I just heard at Mass. This is what I needed to hear and know today on the Ascension Sunday. Thank you, Teresa. God bless.