The Ascension of the Lord

The Ascension of the Lord (Mark 16:15-20)

The celebration of the Ascension of Jesus to heaven marks the definitive closure of his mission on earth. According to St. Luke, over a period of forty days the Risen Lord appeared to certain disciples in varied ways to prepare them for his final departure. The Apostles were told that they would continue the work of Jesus. They were instructed to return to Jerusalem and to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit to empower them.

 

We can celebrate the Ascension in three ways.

 

A New Mission

 

On the Mount of the Ascension the apostles were told not to be looking up to the skies but to look out to the world as a field of mission. “Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.” That mission and promise extends to our time. God is not just up there, but God is with us and in us. As Pope Francis put it, each one of us not only has a mission but each one is a mission to bring God’s love and compassion to others. “I have no hands now but yours.”

 

A New Power

 

Jesus promised that the new mission would be empowered by the Holy Spirit. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” Next Sunday we will celebrate Pentecost. See how the power of the Spirit changed the apostles … from confusion to belief, from fear to courage, from despondency to joy.

 

A New Hope

 

The Ascension opens up the doors of heaven for us. This is beautifully expressed in the Preface for the Feast. “He ascended, not to distance himself from our lowly state but that we, his members, might be confident of following him where he, our Head and Founder, has gone.”

 

The famous scientist, Stephen Hawkins, described human life as “chemical scum on an average-sized planet, orbiting around a very average-sized star, in the outer suburb of one of a million galaxies.” Chemical scum! No, thank you! Give me our beautiful, meaningful and hope-filled Christian religion any day. Planets and galaxies suggest a big story. But religion offers a story even bigger.

 

With Saint Paul we pray. “May God enlighten the eyes of our mind so that we can see what hope his call holds for us, what rich graces he has promised the saints will inherit, and how infinitely great is the power that he has exercised for us believers.”

 

 

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