The Ascension of Our Lord
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
Then he led them out as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven. They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God.
Source: Catholic Daily Reflections
And with that, the earthly mission of Jesus was completed and He ascended into Heaven. Or was it? Was His mission completed? Yes, but only in the sense that our Lord’s work of destroying death and offering new life was accomplished by His life, death and resurrection. Human nature was now invited to share in a new life of grace.
Prayerfully imagine standing on the mountain of the Ascension with our Lord. As you gaze upon Him, imagine that you were also present with Him throughout His public ministry. Imagine witnessing His many miracles, the way that He converted the hardest of hearts, the authority with which He spoke, His arrest, torture, death and then His Resurrection. Imagine seeing His hands and feet, once pierced, now radiating glory from those wounds. As you see our Lord in this way, imagine Him looking at you with love and saying to you that He has chosen to send you forth to the world to be a witness to Him and to all that you have seen and encountered. You are to go forth sharing the Good News of His life, death and resurrection with all whom you come in contact with.
First, our Lord has, indeed, shared His entire life with you. By reading the Gospels, you become a firsthand witness to all that Jesus did and accomplished. His Word is alive, and it reveals His very Person to you, just as it did to His first followers. Second, Jesus does call you to go forth and to share this living Gospel with the world. Therefore, it is important to ponder how you can do such a thing. How can you give witness to the Resurrection of Christ? How can you change lives? How can you continue the mission of Jesus Himself?
The promise given by our Lord to the disciples on the mountain of the Ascension is also a promise given to you. He is promising to send the Holy Spirit upon you so as to clothe you “with power from on high.” Only by receiving that power and using it fully will you be able to accomplish the mission that our Lord has given to you. Therefore, will you open yourself to the Holy Spirit and commit yourself to the continuation of Christ’s mission?
If we were to fully understand the mission we have received from Jesus, it would fill us with a holy fear. But too often the realization of what God wants of us fills us with an unholy fear instead. We think about evangelizing others, sharing our faith, witnessing to the truth by our actions, loving our enemies and living for the Gospel alone, and it can appear overwhelming. If that is the case with you, then know that this form of unholy fear can be dispelled so that the gift of holy fear can take its place. Holy fear is a gift of the Holy Spirit that inspires us to sense the awesomeness of God and the mission we are given by encountering it firsthand. It motivates us, encourages us and leaves us with wonder and awe. From there, this and every other gift of the Holy Spirit enables us to fulfill the unending mission of Christ.
Reflect, today, upon the particular mission that God has given to you. Prayerfully look at Jesus as He stands on the mountain of the Ascension and looks at you. As He does, let Him reveal to you not only His very Person, but also your particular sharing in His ongoing mission of sharing the Good News to the ends of the earth. Receive that mission with courage, joy and holy fear. Reverence it, savor it, ponder it and accept it. Commit yourself to this glorious sharing in the life of Christ by committing yourself to become a witness to Christ until the end of your life on earth.
My ascended Lord, as You entered body and soul into the full and glorious presence of Your Father, You handed on to your disciples the duty of completing Your mission on earth. I hear Your call in my life, dear Lord, and commit myself to the glorious task of continuing that mission on earth. Please use me as You will and fill me with power from on high so that I may help share Your saving Word to the ends of the earth. Jesus, I trust in You.