Sunday After the Ascension 2017
“I will not leave you orphans I will go away and come into you and your heart shall rejoice.”
As we extinguished the Paschal Candle on the Feast of the Ascension on Thursday, we took it as a sign to us that Jesus Christ has ascended to the Father, and is no longer seen on this earth because “…He was lifted up before their eyes, and a cloud took Him out of their sight.
On this Sunday we are invited to prepare in prayer for the holy day of Pentecost. Before ascending into Heaven, Jesus promised at the Last Supper not to leave us all alone, but that He would send us the Holy Spirit that we might honor God in all things through Jesus Christ. Like the Apostles gathered together in the Cenacle, awaiting in prayer and meditation the descent of the Holy Ghost, let us too prepare in prayer and acts of charity for the fulfillment of being filled with the Holy Spirit. This Sunday can best be summed up like this: Christ is gone, but never forgotten, for He is always with us for He has sent His Spirit, the Sanctifier, to sanctify those who believe and uncompromisingly practice their Faith in the Truth. Those who love Jesus Christ, who love truth, will find themselves like the disciples, looking up to Heaven, where Jesus now sits at the right hand of the Father. Like Moses, we are “a stranger in a foreign land” (Exodus 2:22) and “Our citizenship is in Heaven from which also we eagerly await a Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20).
What we needed to be aware of is that while waiting persecution are going to be part of our Christian living. Our Lord conveyed the final words to His disciples, foretelling of a time when they would greatly persecute and even kill them. Every apostle except for St. John suffered martyrdom.
“They will expel you from the synagogues,” Our Lord says in today’s Gospel. “Yes, the hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think he is offering worship to God. But these things I have spoken to you, that when the time for them has come you may remember that I told you” (Jn. 16:1-4). We must be ready at all times, living as St. Peter instructs: ” Be prudent therefore and watchful in prayers. But above all things have a constant mutual charity among yourselves; for charity covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without murmuring. According to the gift that each has received, administer it to one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Pt. 4:7-10).
The best part is that our strength comes from God. Our weakness is not a problem if we call upon the Holy Ghost, Whom Jesus promised to send us from the Father. We need “the strength that God furnishes” (1 Pt. 4:11). Our Lord is saying to us now: “I will ask the Father and He will give you another Advocate to dwell with you forever, the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you shall know Him, because He will dwell with you, and be in you” (Jn. 14:15-17).
It is through the Holy Spirit that the Father glorified Jesus in His Resurrection. It is the Holy Spirit which Jesus gives us at Pentecost that empowers us to live our baptismal life. It is for this reason, that Jesus reminded His disciples that they must wait for the Holy Spirit before they can glorify and proclaim His name and the glory of His Kingdom to the ends of the earth. Without the Holy Spirit, our proclamation will be ineffective. Our words will be empty and our deeds will be rooted not in God’s love but human recognition and human need. Let us then imitate the example of Mary and the Apostles by praying for a new release of the Holy Spirit in our lives at Pentecost.