Sunday, June 26, 2011

Acts 1:6-9 - Ascension

Scripture Acts 1:6-9

So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Sama'ria and to the end of the earth." And when he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.


The celebration of the Ascension (this Sunday) used to leave me a bit flat. It was clear what Good Friday did for me. And Easter Sunday’s benefits were indisputable. But as for the Ascension, what’s in it for me?

Christianity is about a kind of love we call agape or charity. It is love that looks away from itself to another and gives itself away for another. The Divine Word did not become man or endure the cross because something was in it for Him.

Charity shares in the beloved’s joys and sorrows (John 14:28).

The first thing to remember about the Ascension is that it is about sharing in Jesus’ joy.

It is about celebrating his return to the heavenly glory to which he refused to cling (Phil 2:6-11).

It is about rejoicing that his crown of thorns has been replaced with the kingly crown, that the mocking crowd at Calvary has been replaced with myriads of adoring angels.

The Ascension is about Jesus’ triumph and glorification.

If we get our attention off ourselves and allow the Holy Spirit’s love of the Son to animate our souls, we’ll experience great joy.

But the Ascension is not just about charity. It is also a feast of hope. Yes, there is something in it for us.

He goes to prepare a place for us (John 14:2). We will also one day wear crowns made of gold instead of thorns.

For us to endure until that blessed moment, we need divine power. That’s another reason we ought to rejoice in his Ascension. He takes his place at God’s right hand so that he can pour out the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit, upon his disciples (Ephesians 4:10).

As he ascends, he tells the disciples to wait for this power. But notice that he does not tell them to wait passively for the rapture. He does not instruct them to pour over Bible prophecies, debating about how and when he will return. In fact in Acts 1:11, after the Lord ascends out of their sight, the angels ask why the disciples just stand there, staring into space.

The waiting is not to be a squandering of precious time. It is waiting for a purpose, nine days of prayer (the first novena!) leading to empowerment. Why empowerment? Because they have challenging work to do. “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28: 16-20).

We used to think that evangelization was something that happened in mission countries far away, carried out by priests and religious. Our own neighbourhoods are mission territory, and that all Christians are called to be evangelists. It is the “New Evangelization” because the place is new–right next door–and the missionaries are new since they include all us all.

I’m really not sure that St. Francis of Assisi ever said “Preach the Gospel always; when necessary, use words.” But if he did, note this–Francis often thought it very necessary to use words. His words could be heard in marketplaces, on street-corners, in Churches, wherever there were people. Of course, preaching without an authentic witness of life is certainly counterproductive. But forget about the idea that just the witness of our lives is enough. It is not. You may not be called to preach on street corners, but echoing 1 Peter 3:15, we all must be ready to articulate what Jesus has done for us, what he means to us, and why he is the answer to the world’s problems.

Feel inadequate to the task? You’re in good company. Pope Benedict’s first public statement was an admission of his inadequacy. Do as he does–pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to move in and through you, and take the time to keep learning more about your faith so that you can share it with ever greater confidence.

Source: Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio - Ascension - What's in it for Me?

No comments:

Post a Comment