Vocation Meditation -
Ascension Sunday, 2010
Jesus said to the disciples, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you - that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled."
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures and he said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witness of these things.
And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."
Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.
The reality of the resurrection and ascension cemented the faith of the disciples in the Risen Christ. Jesus' post resurrection appearances were vital and recorded with His final instructions, which are of great importance to our Christian beliefs.
Jesus stressed the reality of the resurrection. He was real and closer to them than ever. The Jesus who died was the Christ who rose again. Christianity is not founded on visions of disordered minds but on One who in actual historical fact faced the cross, conquered death, and rose again.
Jesus stressed the necessity of the cross. All Scriptures looked to the cross. It was part of the plan of God, where, it is the one place on earth that we see God's merciful love was truly manifest in Christ.
Jesus stressed the urgency of the task to the call of repentance and offer of forgiveness of sins to all nations. The days of sorrow were past and the message of joy must be taken to everyone. Mercy and compassion are for all.
Jesus stressed the secret of the power of the Church. The apostles had to wait for God's moment. His instructions were clear. They had to wait in Jerusalem until the Spirit from on high came upon them. Their mission is heaven-powered not a creation of human efforts.
The ascension of Jesus remains as did the Resurrection, a mystery. His appearances evidently got fewer and fewer in time. Humanly speaking, these could have disheartened them. But to the disciples, the ascension was a unique faith experience of the Church.
The ascension was an ending. The disciples' experiences with the flesh-and-blood Person of Jesus were over. Now they are linked to Him as the Risen Christ, independent of space and time. For them, He is out of sight but not in Spirit. He will forever be with them - anytime, anywhere!
The ascension was also the beginning. The disciples did not leave the scene heartbroken. Soon they will begin their task of proclaiming the good news. They left with great joy and were seen continually in the Temple praising God. In Jesus, they have a Master to serve and a Friend that has never left them alone.
"Lifting up his hands, He blessed them."
When I lift my thoughts in prayer, how aware am I of the blessings of God in my vocation path?
Jesus ascended into heaven to close His earthly presence among His own. They saw Him gone, worshipped Him and yet had gone out of the experience with joy. May I have also the experience of believing Your many signs of love in my vocation and remaining in constant joy. Amen.
For the full Gospel reading for this Sunday, visit the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops site.