And said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send 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, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.
Questions for Reflection and/or Discussion
The Lord expects amazing things from us. I regret that I took such a long break in writing this blog. It is really a blessing to me to share with you my thoughts on the Sunday Gospels. I look forward to writing them, especially, as they force me to take time to meditate on God's Word! So, thank you for your patience with me over the past month that I have not posted, and thank you, too, for your prayers!
This Sunday is Ascension Sunday! This is it! This is the event which defines our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He ascended into Heaven so that we might know He is there body and spirit, waiting to court us, His Beloved! His last words on earth to His disciples are full of meaning for us. Let's look closely at their message for our lives today.
First, Christ reminds us that his death and resurrection were proclaimed by the prophets in the Old Testament before His holy birth. It was necessary that this "should" happen. Do I often neglect the tremendous importance of Jesus' death and resurrection amidst the need to hear specific advice for my life in His parables and teachings? Do I spend time meditating on His passion, death, and resurrection, so I might gain some hint of understanding through His grace of the value His actions give to my life? He died and rose for me. How often do I contemplate that fact?
Next, the apostles are prompted to embrace their call to evangelization, as are we. Not only must we repent, but we must preach repentance through our lives, using words if necessary. How often do I make an examination of conscience? How often do I go to Confession? Do I lovingly point out others' needs for repentance or encourage others to do penance? Do I throw up my hands in disgust at the sin in our world or do I actively seek ways to minimize it, teaching and preaching as Jesus commands?
Pentecost is just around the corner. Am I excited? What can I do in the next week to prepare myself for the coming of the Holy Spirit in my life? Jesus comforts his apostles by reminding them of God's covenant with them and instructs them to wait for the power He will send through the Holy Spirit. Do I welcome the power of the Holy Spirit in my daily life? Do I request the grace of the Holy Spirit to help me grow in virtue on a daily basis?
Then, Jesus went to a familiar place, a place apart from the events of Holy Week and Easter. He went where He had good friends, Bethany, and said goodbye to his closest friends. With His blessing, He entrusted His work to their hands, to our hands, and left them in body. Knowing that while Christ's physical presence is gone, His spirit will always be within us and surround us, do I acknowledge His presence in the mundane moments of my day? Do I have confidence that He will fulfill His work through me or do I doubt that my actions can be of any significance? Do I place my whole trust in His love?
I am comforted by the strength the apostles then show. They return with "great joy!" Christ truly has prepared them for their mission; they do not lack confidence. They do not fear his departure; they understand. Do I feel confident He truly does provide all I need to do His will? When I doubt my own abilities, do I turn to the Lord or do I turn to fear? Relying on the Rock, my Savior, do I believe that "all things are possible?"
And, of course, the closing of Luke's Gospel is so telling. The apostles praised God over and over again all their lives. They, in essence, declared "the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is His name!" Can you imagine their hearts as they swelled with God's love? They were the chosen 11, and through that love, they chose to serve the Lord. Do I continually praise God? When is the last time I spent time listing my blessings? Have I declared God's goodness as often as I should?
He ascended, by His own power, into the Heavens to meet His Father and prepare our place. Each one of us has a place prepared. Whether we go or not and how soon after death we get there is up to us. This has, obviously, been on my mind a lot. I think Jesus is very excited to welcome us to our personalized room in the Palace of Heaven!!! I can only imagine...
Speaking of imagining, this link is the music video to an incredible song called "I Can Only Imagine" by Mercy Me. I highly recommend it as a song of reflection. What will it be like? We can all only imagine...
"What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him." ~ 1 Corinthians 2:9