Behold, Our Lord Goes Up With Shouts of Joy!
Readings: 1st: Acts 1:1-11; Ps 46:2-9; 2nd: Eph 4:1-13; Gos: Mk 16:15-20
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
Today we celebrate Christ’s Ascension into heaven. He has completed his mission by fulfilling his father’s will. So, as a good son, He has returned to render a full account of his work to his father.
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As Christ’s disciple, we rejoice because we celebrate the final victory of Jesus over Satan and this world. This is a sign of hope that we, too, shall overcome all the forces of sickness, poverty, humiliation, injustice, and oppression that try to subdue us in this world.
This is certain because the same Holy Spirit that raised and ascended Christ is with us (Rom 8, 11). Thus, Ascension reminds us that we are on a journey and that heaven is our final destination rather than this world.
In our first reading, Luke gives us a summary of the life of Jesus up to the point of his dramatic ascension into heaven. There are two messages of hope for us here. The first is the promise of the Holy Spirit: “…You will receive the Holy Spirit…and you shall be my witnesses to the ends of the earth.”
This means that Christ is not leaving us as orphans. Instead, he remains with us through the Holy Spirit “till the end of time.” Therefore, the ascension of Christ does not mean his absence from us. Rather it means his continuous presence through the Holy Spirit.
The second is the promise of his second coming (Parousia). So, today we celebrate because Christ has gone to prepare a place for us in his kingdom. We also celebrate the hope that he shall return to take us to be with him one day.
However, it is important to note that while we wait and prepare for Christ to return, we are not supposed to remain idle. That is, we are not to continue gazing endlessly as the apostles did at the scene of the ascension. Instead, we are expected to live productive lives. We are expected to continue Christ’s mission.
Both the second reading and the Gospel remind us of our missionary vocation. So, while we wait for the return of Christ, we have to make efforts to fulfill this call by living appropriately. Hence, Paul admonishes us: “Live a life worthy of the call you have received. Bear with one another charitably, in complete selflessness and patience. Do all you can to preserve the unity of the spirit by the peace that binds you together.”
Brethren, this is what we are supposed to be doing, rather than remain idle in the name of waiting for the Lord. The Lord must not meet us idle. We must have enough souls to present to him when he returns. So, rather than stand and gaze endlessly, we must embrace our calling with new zeal and hope.
Today’s Gospel reminds us of the mandate of our Christian calling: “Go out into the whole world and proclaim the good news to all creation…” Christ himself evangelized through his words, works, sufferings, and complete offering of himself. Now he calls us to do the same because the same spirit that sustained and resurrected him is with us.
Indeed, we cannot afford to fail Christ in this call. So, as we rejoice today that Christ has ascended into heaven, we must work hard to fulfill his mandate to us in the hope of his second coming to take us with him. This is what will merit us to be eternally with him.
Finally, together with the psalmist, let us acclaim the Lord: “God goes up with shouts of joy; the Lord goes up with trumpet blast.” Alleluia, alleluia!
Peace be with you!