Grace to you and Happy Ascension Day!
Reflect on two unique moments when the Lord Jesus gave farewell words to his disciples. The first was on the eve of his arrest during the Last Supper. He left some instructions to his apostles. “Do this in memory of me”—these are the words of the institution of the Eucharist. Followed by the dramatic action of washing the feet of the disciples and calling them to do the same. This we know from magisterial and many theological teachings as the institution of church leadership—the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
This goodbye was not the final goodbye from Jesus. The second and final goodbye of Jesus in bodily form was at the Ascension. Scripture records the dramatic scene: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses . . . And when he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, who do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:8-11).
What a powerful and dramatic picture of the Ascension. Certainly, this doesn’t seem like an hallucination galore because all the apostles would not be hallucinating at the same time. Moreover, the use of vivid phrases like, “as they were living” “a cloud took him” “while they were still gazing,” . . . not to talk of the clear message from the two angels, faults such claim.
The point is this: This final goodbye from the Lord Jesus was dramatic and I suspect Jesus wanted the memory to stick. The message of this Ascension is consistent in all three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), namely, you will receive the Holy Spirit so you can bear witness to these.
If you relate this final goodbye with the Last Supper goodbye, you have the complete picture of Jesus’ “Will” to his followers. It’s like he was saying; I am done with my mission on earth and now is your time to continue it to the ends of the earth. You do so by celebrating me in the Eucharist, leading by example of service and letting others know about what I have done—evangelization. All this is possible by the Holy Spirit I will send you so you can bear witnesses.
This reveals something to me:
Evangelization is, therefore, a central mission of the Church. A failure to evangelize is a failure in our mission as the Church. But evangelization is possible through the power of the Holy Spirit, God’s gift to us, through Jesus Christ the Lord.
Starting from this evening, I will lead us through a nine-day novena reflection on the Holy Spirit.
Pray: Lord Jesus, keep the memory of your “Will” in my mind so I can always tell the story of my redemption in you. Amen
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.