On the Road Together for May 12&13
On the Road Together
the 7th Sunday of Easter
by Tracy Rodenborn, Director of RCIA
The Ascension of Jesus
This weekend, we are in the seventh and last Sunday of Easter before Pentecost. Our liturgy celebrates the solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord. You might recall Ascension Thursdays from the past, a holy day of obligation in the Roman Catholic Church that is 40 days after the Resurrection as mentioned in Acts 1. In many dioceses, the feast can be moved to Sunday to help people out a bit with the holy day of obligation. The Ascension of the Lord is an integral part of the redemptive work of Christ, and in continuity with his life, death and Resurrection, so the church wants to highlight this feast for the faithful!
In our Gospel today, Mark mentions the Lord being taken up into heaven, but does not explain it, “So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God.” Mathew doesn’t mention it in his Gospel. Luke-Acts mentions it both at the end of Luke’s Gospel and today from our first reading in the first chapter of Acts. And John mentions Jesus being lifted up a few times in his Gospel. What we can gather from the witness of Scripture is that the Ascension of the Lord marks a definitive “leaving” of Christ from earth into the heavenly glory with God the Father.
We do not get much detail from Scripture about the reaction of the disciples to this sudden change in the way Jesus was with them, but we can imagine it was another loss. After the pain of losing Jesus to such a terrible death the first time, the consolation of the post-Resurrection appearances gave them new hope and courage. Now, Jesus, in the middle of a conversation with them gathered, is taken from them again, yet with the promise that the Holy Spirit will come upon them and be with them and be with the gathering that is now the church. On the Feast of Ascension, we celebrate Christ in His glory and the fulfillment of His redemptive work. As much Christian art will attest to, this is a glorious and wondrous occasion in many ways! Though they will feel the presence of Christ in a new way in the body of the church and through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we can imagine that the disciples also felt the loss and absence of life as they knew it before when Jesus was on earth with them.
Perhaps on this day we hold that tension with them, too. The tension we have at times of feeling Christ absent from us and of Christ being with us. The tension of the vulnerability of our lives that can and has and will change for us. The tension of celebrating one thing while also mourning another. How are we to be in light of such vulnerability? I think our passage from Acts and from Mark can give us a clue…
After Jesus is lifted up, two men appear and basically say, “What are doing just standing there? Go and do what Jesus said – you know His promises will pan out.” And wow, do they do just that! What they experience in their gatherings and with the gift of the Holy Spirit to come is presence in a new way. In Mark’s Gospel, in this passage of Jesus’s ascension, Jesus gives them the Great Commission – to GO to all the world to proclaim the Good News.
We, too must keep “Go”ing -- knowing and trusting that the promises of Christ will be. What are we doing just standing here?
GO! It might be time to be in the presence of Christ in a new way today.
Hans Süss von Kulmbach
Readings for the 7th Sunday of Easter, May 12&13:
Sent by Beverly Aviles on Thursday, May 10 at 3:24PM