Acts of the Apostles 1: 7-11 Ephesians 1: 17-23 Luke 24: 46-53
The thinking of the Apostles, in the way that Luke described them to us, may well have been that now Christ’s ministry was over, his presence among u is finished. They were looking “longingly” as Jesus departed from them. On the other hand, the Apostles were quickly reminded that this event of the “Ascension,” Jesus’ departure from them, actually was turning a page. They were challenged, as are we. What are we to do now in response to what the ministry of Jesus was all about?
God became man in Jesus Christ to restore mankind, to reconcile mankind with God. This was proclaimed by Jesus totally giving of himself in the crucifixion. God’s action was not defeated by the death on the cross. It was not the end of Gods’ acting on our behalf. In and through the Resurrection what was proclaimed and what was realized was that over all things, even death itself God triumphs. God overcomes in the Resurrection.
But it does not stop there. Understanding this is the key to the celebration of the Ascension. Rather than a conclusion, it is a beginning. The ministry and mission of Jesus Christ, to reveal God to mankind, was not the action of one person alone at a given time in history. Rather that mission and ministry of Jesus takes on a new dimension, a new direction, in and though us, as the living, vibrant, Body of Christ in the world today. We are to continue that restoration and reconciliation as Church.
I have often made use of the term”Church.” Most persons, I imagine, identify a reference to “Church” as meaning the institution or structure. While hierarchy and organization are important parts of what we identify as “Church,” especially in terms of teaching, leading and unifying, we must also realize that we are joined together by our belief and by joining together in Eucharist, the “Comm-union” we share. We are to stand before the world as those who are truly affected by our belief and as those whose lives seek to live life in view of that faith. We are to seek to make known our loving God in what we are and how we live – as “Church.”
The reality of the presence of Jesus Christ in the world continues now with us. It is to be witnessed to the world in which we live and act today. This world, the world now, needs so desperately to learn the truth of God with us now, As the Apostles went about their work, in the world then, they did so in an amazing fashion, traveling long and difficult distances, from Spain to India, spreading he Gospel. We can do no less today with means that stretch the imagination.
What is to guide and inspire us is found in the words of St. Paul. Filled with the Spirit of Wisdom and with hearts that are enlightened may we make known the hope that we are to be, may we show forth the real power of God’s presence with us, may all parts of us – Christ’s Body the Church – radiate an enriching fullness of life because God’s love is lived and revealed in us and because the power and potential of God’s presence is known in us.
We celebrate the Ascension as a reminder to ourselves that we are not to be idle in our lives but that we are to go forth, here and now, declaring in our lives the truth of our good and gracious God.