Today, Thursday, 21 May, is the Solemnity of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. For us Catholics it is a Holy Day of Obligation. But, of course, in these unusual times we are unable to gather for Mass. What for some would be seen just as a day of obligation is, for many a day of holy love and opportunity. Perhaps, more so, in these times to gather, celebrate and worship our Lord is indeed a gift and grace we cherish, and miss.
Although we are unable to gather for Mass and receive the sacred Body and Blood of our Lord it is also a very special time to realize the holy opportunities we have and are called to share. It is a very unique and powerful season to grow in our listening to Jesus, the Logos, the Word of God. And on this holy day we are able to hear the last words Jesus spoke to His disciples just before He ascended into the clouds to take His throne next to His Father.
On this extraordinaryAscension day it is important and beautiful to realize what occurred as Jesus rejoined His Father. In the incarnation Jesus laid aside His celestial place with His Father to take upon Himself our humanity. Clothed in the realities of our flesh, blood and human struggles Jesus, for thirty plus years, would endure a separation of sorts from His Father. It is on this joyous day God, who Is Love, is fully reunited for all of eternity. The celebration of God and His holy angels would be beyond our earthly imaginings!
Yet as we recognize the holy, heavenly event we are brought back to earth to remember what was on the Sacred Heart of Jesus before He went home. Gathered with His followers they sensed something was going to be happening. Their hearts were still seeking to understand and relate to the brutal passion and resurrection of their Lord. They would still be wrestling with their own fears of persecution and these changes in their faith. So it is on the mountain top Jesus gathers His disciples. They are still holding on to their shallow understanding of the dimensions and power of the Kingdom of Jesus. They ask Jesus when that Kingdom will be restored. Jesus in patient love reminds them the times, seasons, the schedule of God is not for them to know. They only need to know…Him.
Jesus then goes on to once again affirm for the disciples of the promise, power and Presence of the coming Holy Spirit. Then He utters His last words:
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
The first chapter of the Book of Acts goes on to proclaim: “When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.” With those final words Jesus establishes the marching orders of holy love that will carry forth His work and Kingdom. The followers of Jesus, so awed by this extraordinary event are staring up into the clouds. It is then that two angels come and gently but powerfully shake the disciples back to their place and work at hand…to live for and witness the mercy, love and holy joy of the Kingdom of God. They then emphasize that as they saw Jesus ascend into the clouds, so He will return.
As we reflect and refocus on the words and will of Jesus this holy day of opportunity may we grow in our witness to the love and mercy of God in and through our lives. And may our prayer be:
MARANATHA! ~ “Come our Lord!”