The Ascension of the Lord - 2nd June, 2019

Liturgical Reflection

Readings: Acts 1: 1-11; Eph 1: 17-23; Luke 24: 46-53.

 

In today’s readings, St Luke’s gospel ends with the Ascension of Jesus; the Acts of the Apostles begins with the Ascension.
Scripture scholars tell us that both were written by the same skilled writer of excellent Greek.
He wasn’t present at the Ascension; he joined the early apostles and Paul later. His aim is to convey something of the history and evolution of the early Christian community – not as an academic exercise but in words to help God’s love ‘kindle fire’ in the hearts of people.

He wrote for early Christians and for us.

The liturgy helps us to see the pattern of Jesus life; first as a member of a rural Jewish family – father a tradesman, house in the poorer area of town; followed by active ministry; bringing healing and joy; being misunderstood; suffering; death, strangely followed by resurrection.

His followers and friends receive unexpected reassurance that he is alive, after death, though in a different form. He had a new kind of presence among them.
Jesus was the same person but somehow, he was different – harder to recognize even though he had said he was present in the sick, in the prisoners, in the poor, and in the breaking and sharing of bread.
Now with the Ascension, another loss for the disciples – he’s no longer going to call in – pop up through closed doors for a meal.
It is a pity the disciples didn’t have mobile phones to take selfies at the time!

Then came a promise: the Holy Spirit will come at Pentecost.
Jesus and the Father plan to be present in a different way through the Spirit. The early followers are to prepare to be ‘witnesses’ – bearers of new life as Jesus was and is – ‘to the ends of the earth’.

Human beings tend to make a mess of things. The Holy Spirit will light up our minds and hearts. As a community, together we discern what is of God, goodness and truth. Christianity is not a religion of self-sufficient individuals. It is a community – an ‘ecclesia’.
We discern the will of God together in the communities we belong to – families, neighbourhoods, religious communities, parishes, networks – the ‘Church’.

Between the Ascension and Pentecost there is a space, a time for deeper reflection – for the apostles, disciples and for us today.
We wait to be open to receiving the Holy Spirit anew:
                     so our hearts can be ‘re-kindled‘ with love of God and neighbour:
                                          so we can be witnesses of God’s love ‘to the ends of the earth’.

 

Rose Mary Kinne op