Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord
May 17, 2015
Reading 1 Acts 1:1-11
Responsorial Psalm Ps 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9.
Reading 2 Eph 1:17-23
Gospel Mk 16:15-20
Jimmy came racing home from religion class all excited. Breathlessly he told his little brother that God made the whole world using just his left hand. When his mom heard this she asked, “Jimmy, why do you say that God made the whole world using just his left hand?” Jimmy answered, “Because the Bible says that when Jesus ascended into heaven he sat on the right hand of his Father!”
Today we celebrate the glorious feast of the Ascension when Jesus was taken into heaven and scripture tells us that he actually did take his seat at the right hand of God the Father.
Saying good-bye is one of the most painful things in life. Even if we have good hope of seeing each other again, saying good-bye reminds us of the final separation that we all must face one day. The Disciples felt this pain of loss as they bid farewell to Jesus. We too have felt this pain.
I think of my dad. He was a plain, hard working man, not one to express his emotions. He had his personal demons, but with God’s grace he did his best to overcome them. He made room in his life for his wife, his family his job and for God.
When his time came, he reluctantly faced death with the same struggle that accompanied every important decision in his life. His death left a major void in our lives.
Today’s scripture readings speak about Jesus being taken “from their sight.” The reading says that the Disciples stood there “looking intently at the sky.” Suddenly two mysterious “men dressed in white garments stood beside them.” These men had to bring the Disciples’ attention back to earth, to the task that lay before them.
According to the instructions Jesus had given them, their job was to “proclaim the gospel to every creature, cast out demons, communicate in new languages, and heal the sick.
This message is also for us – and for all Disciples throughout history. There is no time for standing around gazing at the sky. As members of the Body of Christ, we too are expected to carry out the message of Jesus.
The Disciples were timid after Jesus ascended. They were afraid – and understandably so, since Jesus seemed to have abandoned them. It was only after the Holy Spirit came upon them at Pentecost, which we celebrate next week, that they were given the strength to preach and minister.
So it is with us. There is much in life that is unsure and that puts us into the same “in-between-time” that the Apostles experienced between the Ascension and Pentecost.
When parents say goodbye to their kids going away to college or become empty nesters, they are in an in-between time, between the feeling of loss, and the promise of something better. Those of you who have ever lost a job really know what in-between-time is about.
But the Apostles and other Disciples didn’t waste any time between the Ascension and Pentecost. They made plans for carrying on the work of Jesus after the promised spirit came. They elected Matthias to take the place of Judas as they gathered their strength for spreading the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
We often experience a need for a renewal of the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives as we carry on after a significant loss or an illness or a tough financial crisis. We get back on our feet as we plug in once again to the lifeline of God’s grace.
Just like the Disciples, sometimes we just gaze aimlessly up to heaven. We too need the urging of someone else to get us on with life.
Each of us is called to imitate Jesus in everything we say and do. If we do this, then we can truly call ourselves Christians, Disciples of Jesus.