Ascension of the Lord
Malvern Minute

 

Ascension of the Lord

May 21, 2020

Deacon Anthony J. Cincotta

Assistant Director for Retreat Ministry

 

Acts of the Apostles 1:1-11

Psalm 47

Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians 1:17-23

Matthew 28:16-20

 

Why did Jesus leave His beloved apostles forty days after His resurrection?  As we all know, forty is a significant number in Sacred Scripture:

  • Moses went to the mountain to seek the face of God for forty days in prayer and fasting.
  • The people of Israel wandered in the wilderness for forty years.
  • Elijah fasted for forty days as he journeyed in the wilderness to the mountain of God.
  • Jesus fasted for forty days in the wilderness and was tempted by the devil prior to the beginning of His public ministry.

For forty days after His Resurrection, Jesus appeared numerous times to His disciples in order to reassure them that He had indeed risen from the dead and to prepare them for the task of carrying on the work which He began during His earthly ministry.  In this very short Gospel narrative from Saint Matthew Jesus commissions the apostles to “make disciples of all nations, to baptize and to teach them to observe all that He commanded of them.”  Indeed, a monumental task.

Our Lord’s departure and Ascension into heaven was both an end and a beginning for His disciples.  It was the end of Jesus’ physical presence with them but it marked the beginning of Jesus’ presence with them in a new way.  A way they did not initially understand.

Jesus promised them that He would be with them always, “…until the end of the age.”  He assured them of His power, a power which overcame sin and death.  He has become the glorified and Risen Lord and Savior, and will ascend to the right hand f the Father in heaven.  He promised to give His disciples the power of the Holy Spirit which was fulfilled ten days later on the Feast of Pentecost.  When our Lord departed physically from the apostles they were not left alone or powerless.

I am quite certain that all of us have heard the term “seeing is believing.”  Many non-believers often harbor the illusion that if only they were able to see the Risen Jesus with their own eyes, they would be firm believers.

Matthew’s brief Gospel account of the Lord’s Ascension should cause us to pause.  The reason is a simple one.  We heard as the eleven gathered on the mountain in Galilee and caught sight of Jesus that, “When they saw Him, they worshiped, but they doubted.”  They actually see Him with their own eyes, they know He is alive, yet their faith is not as firm as we might have imagined it to be.  Did they see and not believe?  They needed to hear the comforting and reassuring words of Christ in order to fulfill their mission.

It makes us think of the words of St. Paul in his Letter to the Ephesians as he prays, “May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to His call.”   Here Paul reveals that there is a different kind of seeing which leads to a deeper kind of knowing and understanding of the person who is Jesus Christ.

Sisters and brothers, the inner heart does have eyes that see, it is a gift of the Holy Spirit, and it is called wisdom and understanding.  These “eyes” I speak of gives us the sure knowledge of the hope that is ours, the hope of sharing in the glory that is our destiny.  The promises of Christ! 

We are given the same “Great Commission” that Jesus gave His disciples.  He has given it to the whole Church.  All of us, as believers, have been given a share in this task, to be heralds of the Good News and ambassadors for Jesus Christ who is the Savior of the world.  We too have not been left alone in this task because our Risen Lord works in and through us by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Thank you Lord, thank you very, very much.

Question of the Day:  Are you aware of the “inner eyes” of your heart that guide you as a disciple of Jesus, the Lord?

Prayer:  On this day of the Ascension of Our Lord, let us make Saint Paul’s prayer our own, “May the yes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to His call Eph. 1:18.”  Amen.

Please continue to pray for the victims of the Coronavirus and for all who are affected by this unprecedented pandemic.

Prosit

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