Solemnity of the Ascension
Time to Get to Work
According to the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus continued to appear to select groups of believers for about 40 days after his resurrection. On one occasion he appeared to 500 people at once. His appearances renewed faith in the believers that he was alive and that the prophecies of the Old Testament were fulfilled in him. Jesus continued to instruct his budding community in the purpose of his coming and how they were to live in the world. The great commission sends them to the ends of the earth with the good news of salvation. Jesus encourages them not to be afraid of the rejection they will face for he will be with them.
The Ascension of Jesus unites him to his Father as from all eternity. “The meaning of Christ’s Ascension,” writes Pope Benedict XVI, “expresses our belief that in Christ the humanity that we all share has entered into the inner life of God in a new and hitherto unheard of way. It means that man has found an everlasting place in God.” Jesus goes before us to prepare a place for us. We are all heaven bound and we should keep our eyes on the prize as we labor to spread the good news of Jesus. The mission of Jesus is accomplished. Now the Holy Spirit will empower the disciples to accomplish their mission.
I can’t help thinking that the Blessed Mother, the Apostles, and disciples must have felt left behind when Jesus ascended into heaven. He departed a second time. Yes, we understand it was part of the Father’s plan. But their son, friend and master will no longer be present to them in a tangible way. Perhaps we feel the same sometimes. We wish that we could feel the closeness of Jesus, that he would come to us periodically as he did the disciples. We want to see his glorified wounds which remind us that by his stripes we are healed. But we walk by faith and not by sight.
The message from Acts of the Apostles today is to get to work. Each Christian has received the Holy Spirit with many gifts and fruits of the spirit to be used to reach out to the people around them. Daily there are innumerable opportunities to witness the love of God by smiles, word, embraces, listening, prayerfulness and good works. Those who are elderly, home bound or ill can offer up the events of their day to bring blessings upon their families and friends. Nothing should be wasted in the service of God’s people.
Fr. Michael Salvagna, CP