Ascension of the Lord 2017
Celebrating the Ascension of Jesus provokes a number of questions: What is the hope of humanity? What is the destiny of our lives? What is our mission that we need to accomplish?
Our Mother Church teaches us that when we obey the Lord’s commandment of love, and in His Spirit are nurtured on earth upholding the values of human dignity, brotherhood and freedom, we are to enjoy fellowship with the Lord in eternity. The ascension celebrates the dream that has begun with the Resurrection of Christ and climaxes by His ascension into Heaven. The ascension is both the end and the beginning. It’s a transition to the next phase in the perfect plan of the Father. Understanding the way this plan unfolds should leave us in wonder and awe.
In the Ascension of our Lord, we celebrate the triumphant authority of Jesus over death and sin and giving life to all the nations. We believe that Jesus is now seated at the right hand of the Father, He is “far above every ruler, authority, power and dominion, not only in this age, but also in the age to come. God the Father has put all things under his feet, and made him, as the ruler of everything, the head of the Church; which is his body, the fullness of him who fills the whole creation.” Indeed, with His Ascension, Jesus is not just glorified but He is invested with the power to empower all of us to bring about the kingdom that He has started on Earth.
Sure, the Apostles were probably somewhat frightened and confused. Jesus was with them, then He died, then He rose and appeared various times, and then He ascended to the Father before their eyes. But He also told them that it is good that He goes. In fact, He said that it’s better that He goes. He told them of the Advocate that would come to lead them into all Truth. So the Apostles went from joy, to fear, to relief and more joy, to confusion and sorrow, to curiosity and uncertainty.
Perhaps that’s the way some people find their lives to be. Ups and downs, twists and turns, joys and sorrows. Each phase reveals something new, something challenging, something glorious or something sorrowful. The good news is that the Father’s plan is unfolding perfectly.
The part of the perfect plan we find ourselves in with this Ascension is the part where Jesus begins to direct His mission of establishing the Kingdom of God from Heaven. His throne is, in a sense, the driver’s seat of our lives. From Heaven, Jesus suddenly begins to descend continuously into our lives fulfilling His mission in and through the Apostles, as well as all of us. The Ascension does not mean Jesus is gone. Rather, it means Jesus is now present to each and every person who turns to Him and surrenders his or her life to His mission.
Having been baptized in Christ we are transformed to live according to the mind and heart of Christ. We are to live the resurrected life in Christ. This calls for observance of all the commands of Christ. The Gospel of Christ is the map by which we are called to live our lives in charity, service and mercy. Only when we are imbued with the Word of God, the Gospel of our Lord, can we live out the blueprint that the Lord has imparted to us. Only when we decide to make the Gospel as the reference point and the guide can the kingdom be established and then our destiny assured.
From Heaven, Jesus is able to be present and able to live in us and invites us to live in Him. It’s the new beginning of the Church. Reflect, today, upon the abiding and intimate presence of our Lord in your life. Know that Jesus invites you to share in His mission. From His glorious throne He wants us to “preach everywhere.” He wants to invite each one of us to do our part. The part of the Father’s plan entrusted to each one of us is not entrusted to another.
We all have a share in that plan. What is your part? How does Jesus direct His mission through you? Ponder this question today and know that He accompanies you as you say “Yes” to your part in the glorious unfolding of His perfect plan. From now until the Feast of Pentecost, the Church invites us to wait and pray for the Holy Spirit. The Lord has ascended on high to come back to give us the Gift of the Holy Spirit. “When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people.” (Eph 4:8). Let us be receptive and docile to the Holy Spirit through a yearning for Him again in prayers.